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March 22, 2010What was your take on the West Virginia game?
Missouri didn't have Da'Sean Butler and West Virginia did. It was as simple as that. Oh, Missouri missed too many free throws. There were tip ins that tipped out. There threes that rimmed out: Kim English had one, Michael Dixon had a couple. But Da'Sean was Da'Man. The best player on the court won. And that's why Missouri is heading home, done for the year.
Missouri played hard, they just didn't play well. And West Virginia deserves credit for that. They're a better team than the Tigers. There are tournament losses where fans should walk away feeling disappointed. This wasn't one of them. Sure, the game was there and the Tigers had a chance to take it, but they just didn't quite have the ammo.
And overall, your thoughts on the season?
I don't know if it's fair to say Missouri overachieved, but I think it's absolutely fair to say that they got everything they could out of the season. This was a limited team to start the year. By the end of the year, they were even more so. I think making the tournament and winning a game establishes that Mike Anderson is building something and that he plans to make some noise for a few years now, not just a flash in the pan.
More than a year ago, this season showed the kind of players Mike Anderson brings on board and how hard those players are willing to work for a man many view almost as a father figure. Sure, there were some stinker games: the last Nebraska game, and until overtime the second Iowa State game. In a game that - to me - was a tipping point between a good season and just a nice one was the Clemson game. Missouri - and particularly Keith Ramsey and Laurence Bowers - played its most complete game of the season.
What are the biggest off-season keys for this team?
First, I think they need to get a Ricardo Ratliffe TYPE guy. Not necessarily Ratliffe, but a guy that can give you nine points and seven boards a night and be an offensive threat in the post. If they get that, the pressure on Tony Mitchell is greatly reduced. In addition, I think there are two keys: Kim English needs to be consistently what he was at times this year (like in the Clemson game). He needs to focus on what he does well and not try to do things he can't. Second, I think Laurence Bowers needs to make a Marcus Morris type leap. Go from a good solid contributor to a star, a borderline all-Big 12 type of guy.
I'd like to see Kim English be acknowledge the warrior that he is. I don't give a damn what that kid seemingly cannot do. He's a player who is willing to push beyond his limits, not because he wants to be the hero, but because he wants his team to win. He is to unselfish what Sherron Collins is to the other end of that spectrum. Now, that said, I'd like to see Dixon and Denmon start out as the 1-2 guards with Phil Pressey stepping into the mix as soon as possible. English move to the true swing position played by Matt Lawrence. And yes, get a juco banger to go with Laurence Bowers, Justin Safford and Steve Moore.
It has to be asked: Any concerns that Mike Anderson looks around again?
Mike Anderson isn't going anywhere and I don't care what the people in Arkansas contend. He may not stay at Missouri the rest of his career (there is only one Norm Stewart). But he's not going to walk off with this program just established, particularly when MU will make it financially rewarding not to.
No. He's going to be on some lists both this year and next. But I don't see him signing his life-long friend's son (Phil Pressey) and then leaving him. I think Anderson is at Mizzou at least until Phil Pressey is done...and maybe until he retires.
Time to turn to spring football. Give me a storyline or two you're watching.
First, is this completely Blaine Gabbert's team? It needs to be. Sure, he needs to make a leap on the field and be an even better quarterback, but more so, he has to become a leader and take control of this team. Also, I want to see if what I watched defensively in the first scrimmage becomes a theme and if Missouri can actually defend the pass this season.
Hey, hold on there. I know you're deep into spring football. But the old man barely realized it had begun. Give me a few days to stew on this. But I'll tell you this. You're not going to know if Blaine Gabbert has claimed leadership of this team in the spring. You'll only find that out when Big 12 play begins next fall.
Like Father, Unlike Son will run on the site each week through the end of spring football.