Friday, January 16, 2009

Mini-Preview: Missouri

The best thing you can say about Missouri is that is has depth. And the worst thing you can say about Missouri is that is has depth. A whopping 11 players are averaging double figure minutes, though two are only effective on a nightly basis. Both of those figures rely on Leo "the lion" Lyons being reinstated at some point after his latest infraction with the law. By the way, does an indefinite suspension make sense to any for the alleged transgression of an "unpaid traffic ticket?" There has to be something more there, right? Right. Moving on, I say their depth is both good and bad, because it speaks to their style of play – which was well chronicled here (and part 2 is here).

Anderson's Forty Minutes of Heck makes absolutely no sense in this era of college basketball, let alone the Big XII. Every so often you face a team as bad as Colorado, in your building, you get a little hot and a 45 point win ensues. Sometimes it even happens against decent teams like Cal. But more often than not, you find yourself on the road, against a shit-tastic Nebraska team and you can barely come up with 50 points so you walk out losers. This can also happen against mediocre teams on a neutral court. Truthfully, we don't yet know what to expect out of the Tigers this year. They've played four competent teams (USC, Cal, Xavier, & Illinois), going 2-2 in the process. And they're 1-1 against Nebraska and Colorado, whatever you want to call them. So I guess we should consider them average.

You know most of the players, so I won't delve into them much except to highlight a few notable statistics that may interest you. Carroll, Lyons and to an extent, Tiller (7.6/game), are the only scoring options – nothing new – with Carroll and Lyons being the only competent rebounders on the team (no one else is averaging more than 3). Matt Lawrence has actually turned himself into a 42% 3-point shooter again, though that's a little misleading considering he's a startling bad 4/27 (14.8%) in their games against: XU, USC, Cal, IU, NU, otherwise known as their only legitimate competition. Additionally, I've seen decent stuff out of Denmon, Taylor, English and even Bowers – and I think we all know and respect the tutelage young Miguel Paul has received (and update). Denmon is clearly the most ready and may even turn out to be the best down the road, but none of these guys should be getting the type of minutes they're being afforded now.

This year's Tigers team has some potential. I'd even say they're capable of beating every team in the league – and not just in the sense that "on any given day…" – but that they have a different type of system to prepare for, along with just enough talent that if they're hitting shots they become very dangerous. Fortunately, they're still Missouri so they're likely to parlay this potential into something in the region of 8-8 and a restless few days waiting for their NIT seed.

Up next: Texas

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