Oct 29, 2012, 9:00 AM EDT
Throughout the month of October, CollegeBasketballTalk will be rolling out our previews for the 2012-2013 season. Check back at 9 a.m. and just after lunch every day, Monday-Friday, for a new preview item.
Last Season: 30-4, 14-4 Big 12 (2nd); Lost in the Opening Round to Norfolk State
Head Coach: Frank Haith
Key Losses: Marcus Denmon, Kim English, Ricardo Ratliffe, Steve Moore
Newcomers: Alex Oriakhi, Jabari Brown*, Keion Bell, Earnest Ross, Dominique Bull, Negus Webster-Chan, Stefan Jankovic, Ryan Rosburg
- G: Phil Pressey, Jr.
- G: Michael Dixon, Sr.
- F: Jabari Brown, So.
- F: Laurence Bowers, Sr.
- C: Alex Oriakhi, Sr.
- Bench: Keion Bell, Sr.; Earnest Ross, Sr.; Negus Webster-Chan, Fr.; Dominique Bull, Fr.
Outlook: Missouri is going to be a very different team this season. Playing without Laurence Bowers last season, the Tigers were forced to go small. They surrounded Phil Pressey, arguably the nation’s premiere with a trio of knock-down shooters — Marcus Denmon, Kim English, Mike Dixon — capable of going for 25 on a given night. They were lucky because English, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard, was tough enough to defend and rebound in the paint, giving them a mismatch on the offensive end of the floor that they were able to consistently exploit.
The problem, however, was that while the Tigers thrived offensively — the were the most efficient offensive team in the country a year ago, they simply survived on the defensive end. They struggled to force their opponents into tough shots, they weren’t great on the glass and they didn’t have a shot blocker to protect the rim.
This year’s team should be much improved on the defensive end of the floor. It starts with Pressey and Dixon, when he gets back from his suspension, who are both terrific on-ball defenders that can get out and pressure, man-to-man, in the half-court. Transfers Jabari Brown, who will get eligible in December, and Keion Bell are both big, extremely athletic wings while Earnest Ross is versatile enough to guard either forward position.
But the real difference makers defensively are Laurence Bowers and Alex Oriakhi. Bowers, before he tore his ACL, was considered by many to be the best player on last year’s Missouri team. He certainly was considered the best defender, as he’s an athletic and lanky, 6-foot-8 power forward that can defend any position on the floor. He’s a defensive playmaker as well, the kind of guy that can block shots around the rim and jump a passing lane. Oriakhi is the tie that binds for this group. While he struggled last year with UConn, Oriakhi was an overwhelming dominant interior presence during UConn’s run to the 2011 national title. He can block shots, he rebounds the ball on both ends of the floor, and he’s a better scorer in the post than he gets credit for. Don’t be surprised to see him average 12 points, 10 boards and 2.5 blocks this season.
While Missouri may flourish defensively this year, they will undoubtedly be taking a step back on the offensive end. That’s what happens when three of the most efficient scorers in the country graduate. But Missouri isn’t exactly without weapons this year. Dixon may end up averaging 16 or 17 points this year. Brown was a top 30 recruit known for his ability to score on the wing, while Bell averaged nearly 20 per game while at Pepperdine. Ross, Bowers and Oriakhi are all players that can get double-figures on given night.
But perhaps more importantly, there’s Pressey. As we mentioned, Flip is one of the best creators in the country, and there are few point guards that are as adept at making their teammates better as him. It’s pretty easy for Oriakhi to score, for example, when the ball is dropped off to him in front of the rim. The other point that needs to be made is that while neither Ross nor Bowers are the kind of shooter than English was, both are skilled and perimeter-oriented enough to play the same role — as a stretch-four, so to speak — offensively.
In other words, while the people playing to positions are different this season, the Tigers will be running essentially the same attack. With a new-and-improved defense and Pressey running the show, there’s legitimacy to the argument that Missouri can contend for the SEC title.
Predictions?: The key for the Tigers are going to be how all of the transfers come together. Only three players projected to be in the Tiger rotation have played for Missouri before, and one of those three — Bowers — sat out the only season that Haith has been in Columbia with a knee injury. Those are a lot of new faces to try and turn into a cohesive unit, but that’s precisely what Haith did last year with the Tigers. He took a team that was admittedly coming apart at the seams and turned them into a group that won 30 games and the Big 12 tournament. My money is on the Tigers repeating that success
May 21, 2013, 6:47 PM EDT
After spending one year on the coaching staff at LSU, long-time assistant Robert Kirby is once again leaving the SEC, this time to join Josh Pastner and the Memphis Tigers. Jim Kleinpeter of The Times-Picayune reports that the first-year LSU assistant resigned as an assistant coach on Monday night in order to take a similar position…
May 21, 2013, 6:02 PM EDT
Tulsa Shock guard Skylar Diggins wrapped up a great career with the Fighting Irish earlier this spring. Following her graduation from the University Notre Dame on Sunday, her sports agency, Roc Nation Sports — founded by Jay-Z — rewarded her with a Mercedes Benz. Got surprised with a new mercedes! Thanks so muchto Jay and…
May 21, 2013, 4:30 PM EDT
The Connecticut back court was already in good shape with the return of Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright and Omar Calhoun. On Tuesday afternoon, Kevin Ollie added to his guard depth with George Washington transfer Lasan Kromah. This news came according to CBSSports.com, who confirmed the transfer through a source. Kromah is graduating from George Washington,…
May 21, 2013, 3:16 PM EDT
The field for the Legends Classic has been announced. Pittsburgh highlights the field and will be joined by Stanford, Houston and Texas Tech. Each of the four teams will host a pair on games on campus prior to going to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the semifinals and the finals. The final two rounds…
May 21, 2013, 1:32 PM EDT
Montana announced on Tuesday that Washington transfer Martin Breunig would be transferring into the program. “We are very excited about signing Martin Breunig at the University of Montana,” head coach Wayne Tinkle said in a statement. “He’s a strong, athletic post player, and he really adds good size and strength to our front line.” “We…
May 21, 2013, 12:40 PM EDT
Kevin Stallings isn’t too happy about Sheldon Jeter’s decision to transfer. According to a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Vanderbilt head coach has blocked his former player from transferring to Pitt next season. Jeter is a graduate of Beaver Falls HS and announced over the weekend that he would be leaving the Commodores to…
May 21, 2013, 11:56 AM EDT
Jim Boeheim is a curmudgeon. He’s a grumpy old man that couldn’t possibly care any less about what anyone thinks of him, whether it be a media member, an opposing coach or an NBA team. He will, quite literally, say whatever he wants about whoever he wants whenever he wants. And I love it. In…
May 21, 2013, 11:09 AM EDT
Around two years ago, Bruce Pearl was fired as the University of Tennessee’s head coach stemming from lies that he told NCAA investigators that were looking into relatively minor infractions. Pearl had hosted Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft at his house for a barbecue during a recruiting visit and a picture of him was…
May 21, 2013, 10:25 AM EDT
There are not many coaches out there that have it as good as Rick Barnes. He’s the head coach of the men’s basketball team for the most recognizable university in the state of Texas which just so happens to have one of the richest athletic departments in the country. And that athletic department also doesn’t…
May 20, 2013, 9:45 PM EDT
With Marcus Smart making the decision to come back for his sophomore season, paired with other key players and a solid recruiting class, Oklahoma State is threatening to be one of the favorites for a Final Four berth next season. Memphis loses studs like Tarik Black and Adonis Thomas, but return Joe Jackson and bring…
May 20, 2013, 8:30 PM EDT
Looks like Juan Anderson had second thoughts about leaving Marquette, because he’s headed back to the Golden Eagles’ program. Anderson had announced he was leaving the program last week. The junior-to-be has played sparingly in his two seasons on campus, and originally wanted to transfer to be closer to home. Turns out he would rather…
May 20, 2013, 7:28 PM EDT
Mike Rice lost his job at Rutgers by repeatedly physically and mentally abusing his players. And it looks like he’s trying to get help with it. A report from ESPN.com’s Andy Katz said that Rice has spent the past two weeks with former NBA guard John Lucas at his rehabilitation center in Houston getting counseled…
May 20, 2013, 6:40 PM EDT
Bill Self might be challenging Rick Pitino for the title of “best college basketball offseason”. At least from a coaching perspective. Less than a week after top prep player Andrew Wiggins committed to the Jayhawks, Self got another big commitment, this one of a different one-year variety, as former Memphis forward Tarik Black has committed…
May 20, 2013, 6:15 PM EDT
Justin Tuoyo’s next stop is with a familiar face. The sophomore-to-be will be transferring to Chattanooga, where he will be reunited with Will Wade, who took over for with the Mocs after spending the past four seasons on Shaka Smart’s staff at VCU. The 6-9 Tuoyo averaged 1.1 points and 1.4 rebounds in his lone…
May 20, 2013, 5:35 PM EDT
Recently, the big trend has been to redesign a team’s home court with a cool graphic. Florida International recently pulled it off with a beach theme, Long Beach State did the same a few years ago. Oregon seemed to be one of the originators (as Oregon can be with this sort of stuff). Add George…
May 20, 2013, 4:50 PM EDT
A big announcement came today for Sacred Heart and Conference hoops as a whole as word came out that Dave Bike will retire as head coach after 35 years at the helm. His replacement has apparently already been found in assistant coach Anthony Latina. A news conference is expected sometime next week. Bike took over…
May 20, 2013, 4:15 PM EDT
There may not be a rivalry in all of college basketball more unique than the Battle of the Boulevard, which pits Belmont against Lipscomb, two schools that are located all of 2.7 miles apart on Belmont Boulevard in Nashville, TN. It dates back to 1953, and over the course of the last 60 years, the two…
May 20, 2013, 12:47 PM EDT
Dominic Woodson no longer plans to attend Baylor in the fall, according to multiple reports. Woodson was rated as the No. 80 recruit in the country, and the No. 9 center in the Class of 2013, by Rivals. But with Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson both opting to return to school, and with Rico Gathers…
May 20, 2013, 12:25 PM EDT
Frank Haith has added yet another transfer to his program, as former Baylor wing Deuce Bello will finish up his playing career at Missouri. The news was first reported by Gabe DeArmond of PowerMizzou.com. “I have decided to play for Mizzou,” Bello told DeArmond. “We played them three times while I was at Baylor. I…
May 20, 2013, 12:16 PM EDT
We’ve known that Long Beach State was heading towards some roster upheaval for a few weeks now, but the news will soon become official: five players from last year’s team will not be on the roster next season. The three biggest names: Keala King, Tony Freeland and Deng Deng. They’re 49er careers are caput. A…
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