There are suddenly enough cool links about this that I thought it deserved its own post...
From PM's "They're Back" article:
There were two seniors in Lyons and Lawrence who had been through the worst of times. There were two more who have shown a young, inexperienced team the way. There was a transfer from Delaware who has hit every big shot. There was a junior college transplant who forgoes offensive glory for swatting away shots. There were five freshmen, led by the irrepressible Kim English, who told the crowd, "We got five freshmen here. And we're bringing back three more of these trophies."
With every roar, the crowd gave back a little of what they've gotten from this group. A fanbase starved for success had finally tasted some. And sleep be damned, they were going to repay the guys that gave it to them. It was tough to tell which group enjoyed it more. The players as they hoisted the trophy and looked over the crowd that must have seemed bigger than that at some home games the last couple of years, or the fans who had waited so long to see this once proud program bounce back. In the end, it didn't matter who enjoyed it more. It mattered only that both had gotten what they wanted.
And while we're at it...from The Trib...
The low points have been well documented since Lawrence and Lyons joined the program in 2004. Their first coach, Quin Snyder, didn’t survive their first college season. Missouri was a first-round casualty in three straight Big 12 Tournaments. A string of off-the-court incidents only added to the frustration of their first three years.
The 14th-ranked Tigers (28-6) had done a good job of covering up all those sour memories and restoring pride in the program during Coach Mike Anderson’s third season on the bench. The tournament title ranks as their greatest achievement to date because hardly anybody saw it coming after the Tigers dropped two of their last three regular-season games.
“Coach Anderson has been nothing but honest with us, saying he is going to bring a championship to this school,” Lawrence said. “Not many people believed him except those 14 guys in the locker room and our coaching staff.”
From the KC Star...as if there weren't already 1,143 reasons to absolutely love Zaire Taylor...
Taylor went on to recount how — after quitting basketball at Delaware — he and his mother scraped together barely enough money to pay for a cheap place to live at the school while he took classes to make it possible to transfer to Missouri.
“My mother gave me enough money to rent an apartment,” Taylor said. “But then my roommate left.”
Along with his commitment to pay half the rent.
“I couldn’t come up with that,” Taylor said. “I was evicted.
“I stayed with friends. I spent a few nights in the computer lab.”
Melvin Watkins, MU associate head coach, became worried. He couldn’t get Taylor on the telephone. Not until later did Taylor tell Watkins that — because he had lost the cell-phone charger and could not afford to replace it — Taylor couldn’t renew the phone’s battery.
“He’s a young man who went through some hard times,” Watkins said Saturday, taking in the joy of a 28-6 Missouri team that is waiting for its NCAA Tournament destination today.
From The Missourian...
Coaches and players cut down the net in tiny pieces, dragging out the process of removing it from the rim. Senior Leo Lyons, the first player to snip a piece of the net, climbed up the ladder slowly, pausing on each rung to absorb the moment.
When his turn came, Lawrence paused for a moment at the top of the ladder, pumping his fist in the direction of a section of Missouri fans. He tucked his small piece of string behind his ear.
Everyone hugged. Anderson hugged Lyons and Carroll. Players hugged each other. Lawrence hugged the team's managers, who also wore Big 12 Champions T-shirts and hats. Freshman Kim English even hugged a few reporters, thanking them for making the trip to Oklahoma City.
Three years ago, Anderson arrived at Missouri talking about such things and it all sounded like wild dreams. He talked about winning titles and collecting championship hardware. He talked about resurrecting Tigers basketball and giving those words true import again.
And now barely three years into the process, Anderson had delivered on his word. Decked out in his tailor-made, black, three-button suit, crisp french-cuffed shirt and gold silk tie — and with a smile on his face as broad and bright as a full moon — Anderson looked like a million dollars.
Or maybe even $1.3 million, depending on whom you ask.
It's so easy to develop an emotional attachment to this team. They had won over Columbia a month ago...and they've just kept winning since then. And they might not be done yet.