The start of the Missouri basketball season is still about five months away. But the foundation for the Tigers' 2011-12 campaign is being laid down right now. PowerMizzou.com stopped by a best-of-seven pickup set to chat with the current Tigers about the new coaching staff, the off-season goals and the looming season.
In a series of one-on-one interviews called Summer Sessions, Tiger fans can hear from each scholarship player this is currently on campus, minus newcomer Earnest Ross, who is not yet available for interviews.
Today, we move forward in our series with senior swingman Kim English.
PowerMizzou.com: Take me through the transition to the new coaching staff. You've made it pretty obvious you're happy with the change.
Kim English: "Yeah, I like them. Happy with the hire, happy to work with these guys. It's just a new beginning. It's rough starting over. You get comfortable with everything. I knew how it was with Mike Anderson, Matt Zimmerman, Melvin Watkins, coach Deets, the weights and the summers. I knew how all that went. And because we were a responsible bunch, they really trusted us. So it was kind of having the new coaches all gain our trust and give us freedom all over again, but I'm liking it. We're working really hard. We as a team really sat down and are focusing on our chemistry. We had terrible chemistry last year. We didn't play together at all. We didn't play defense. And it was a crappy season for the talent we had. We had such a wealth of talent and Mike Anderson's system won't work unless you have selfless guys. And we weren't that. We were open with each other after the season. Even now, we just sit down and talk about how we're going to try to go out, I hate to say it, but how that Kansas team did in '08. The Florida team in '06 and '07 I think. I mean, they were just so selfless and played together; Connecticut this year. We're just really excited about the new beginning and just want to finish our college careers out the right way."
PM: Is it fair to say then that the last six weeks of last season is what is motivating everyone out here this summer?
KE: "Oh yeah, it was miserable. I mean, having Rickey Kreklow leave killed me inside because I kind of looked at him like a little brother. I just put myself in his shoes and I know how my freshman year went and how that was the best team you could put on paper. Guys knew their roles, were so selfless, different guy had it going every night, Elite Eight, Big 12 Championship, rings, jackets, being the man around campus. And how him and Phil Pressey and Ricardo and Matt's first years went, with kind of a selfish team, a team that didn't play together, a team that wasn't fun to watch, a team that never won on the road. I mean, I feel sorry for Rickey. And Phil and Ricardo and Matt. I just want to let Phil, Ricardo and Matt see what it's supposed to look like. I'm kind of searching for that. I'm searching for that 31-and-7 team again."
PM: On the floor, just physical talent and not taking into account chemistry and the locker room, does this team have the pieces to be that good?
KE: "No doubt. Our top six guys can compete with any top six in the nation. I mean, we're good. We have some really, really good pieces. Not to knock Mike Anderson's system at all; it's great when it works, when you have the right kind of guys, but I'm excited to see what all these offensive weapons can do in a system that's a foundation, that it's an offense. I want to see Marcus Denmon coming off curls and knocking down shots and me running off screens, Phil Pressey coming off ball screens and him and Mike working together as a real tandem and just not so much playing in spurts, getting in the rhythm of the game. I'm excited to really get going. It's almost here. Two more weeks of summer, football season, we're rolling. Halfway through football season, it's game time. I remember D.C. like it was yesterday. One of the worst nights of my life. In front of my family, playing one of the worst games of my career, losing in the first round of the tournament, ending my season. Really still haven't slept well. Most miserable year of my life. Frustrating. And it happened for a reason. So here's to my senior year."
PM: How does your personal role change, being a senior and having a new staff and a new system?
KE: "Just being a leader. Being one of the leaders, being one of the top guys. Just making sure we stay together no matter what. No matter what anyone outside of our program, outside of our team says, we are the most important ones to each other. Keep that message with everybody from Truman State to the Elite Eight. That's our message. Stay true to that. Live it. You can't just talk it, you've got to live it. We've got to be open and embrace, encourage that extra pass, that charge, that bounce-off, that skip pass, that one more. That my bad and hustling to get it back after a turnover. We've got to embrace all that. Honestly, that Florida team, that Kansas team, that's what we've got to be."
PM: It's been about three-and-a-half years since you told us all you were coming to Missouri to win a national championship. This is your last shot to make it happen.
KE: "I know, it's my last shot at it. After my freshman year, I thought we were gonna do it for sure. But my prep school coach called me before we played in the Elite Eight. I was telling him, 'Yeah, man, you better just go ahead and book your ticket to Detroit, man. I think we're going out there, when are we going out there? He was like, 'Slow down.' He said, 'This don't happen every year. There's three hundred college teams. There's eight still playing.' So I definitely cherish that now. But I tasted it, I want to get back. I said it. I said it. Now, we gotta do it."
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