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 forward Laurence Bowers.
PowerMizzou.com: You had known coach Anderson longer than anyone on this team. When he left, how long did it take you to get over that?
Laurence Bowers: "I mean, it took a while. Like you said, I had been knowing him, literally, my whole life. I came here solely on his word. I hadn't watched any Mizzou basketball games, anything like that. When he left, it was kind of a shocker to me. I probably took it the hardest; I was hurt. But I think once we hired coach Haith and I got to know him the transition was kind of smooth. I'm looking forward to it."
PM: Did it take very long to get comfortable with the new coaches?
LB: "I'm very extroverted. I get along with pretty much anybody as long as you don't cross me the wrong way. And coach Haith made a very good first impression on me when I met him, and the rest of the staff as well. Like I said, it's been an easy transition. I really look up to these guys."
PM: You were kind of viewed as the prototypical forward in Mike Anderson's system. Are there things you like about the system you'll be in now that you think fit you as well or better?
LB: "Yeah, I've been talking to coach Haith and coach Fuller and they've expressed to me that I'll be playing the three some this year. I think that's my original position and I get a chance to showcase my natural position and how I could play in that role so I'm looking forward to that. I was kind of nervous when they first came here, but when they told me that, it's like, 'Oh, okay.'"
PM: You guys have been playing every day most of the summer. Who has stood out to you that's improved since the end of last year?
LB: "Ricardo Ratliffe is really looking good. Kadeem Green looks really, really good. Steve Moore is toning up. I think everybody individually has improved their game. I'm looking forward to it."
PM: You guys all came here as kind of the backbone of what coach was doing four years ago. And now this is your last go-round. How quick did it go?
LB: "Man, it went by fast. I've been telling people, probably for the last few months, it seems like I just got to college and now it's almost over. So we definitely want to go out with a bang this year. We got a taste of it our freshman year and we just want to take it all the way. That's our goal."
PM: Marcus and Kimmie both kind of said that getting there in your freshman year, you almost started to think you'd be there every year. Do you appreciate how hard it is after the last couple of seasons and does it drive you to get back?
LB: "Exactly. I mean, whenever you taste something that big, you always want to taste it again and go even further. Being a freshman on that team, I didn't play as much my freshman year, but just to be a part of a team like that and the experience, it actually makes me want to take the team further now that I'm a crucial piece of what we do. When Kimmie said that about we were gonna be there every year, he wasn't joking. I mean, we have been. And you've got to appreciate a guy like Kimmie. Kimmie has a lot of confidence in himself and in the team and that's what makes him stick out."
PM: Last thing, does this team have the talent to do something like that again?
LB: "I think so. You know, we've only lost two guys, Ricky Kreklow, Justin Safford. But I think from an experience standpoint, guys have tasted the NCAA Tournament and guys have won 23 games. Everybody's going to improve so I believe we've got the talent, it's just more so about doing it now."
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