The Tigers ended this season with a whimper last night, so it's time to start look toward next season. Everyone but Justin Safford (barring any transfers) should be returning for Missouri next year. The question is, is that a good thing? Some of my friends felt that this Tiger team was less talented than some of Mike Anderson's UAB teams. While I whole-heartedly disagree with that, I have to say that this season was a bit of a disappointment.
Missouri looked lost on the court more often than most of us would like this year. I'm not sure if that was because of a lack of veteran leadership or if it was general inexperience, or even maybe just less talent than we're used to seeing. There's no doubt that Mizzou missed the leadership of Zaire "Mr. Big Shot" Taylor and J.T. Tiller, but if no one stepped in to fill that void this year who's going to step up in 2012? Many of us, myself included, felt like this would be Kim English's team, but Kim regressed this year and seems (if one looks at Twitter) to have lost the confidence of many Mizzou fans.
Certainly, the addition of Tony Mitchell would have made Mizzou a different team, but no matter how talented Mitchell is, was he really all Mizzou needed to get over the hump? A lot has been made of the potential addition of Ben McLemore, but is that what Mizzou needs? Another guard? All season long Mizzou's weakness on the glass and in the paint has been exposed. Bowers and Ratliff did an admirable job and even sometimes put on spectacular displays, but neither truly has the size to be a force in the paint. I suppose that position has really always been a weakness for Missouri. We haven't had a true low-post scorer since Arthur Johnson graduated.
Even the things that should have been Missouri's strength's (guard play and shooting) ran hot and cold this season. While Phil Pressey and Mike Dixon had games where they looked like all-conference players, they had enough games that made you wonder just what the heck they were doing. For some reason both Dixon and Pressey seem to leave their feet nearly every time they make a pass. While this sometimes turns into a spectacular play it often results in either a poor pass or a turnover. Hopefully one or both of those players develop a cooler head. Certainly, Pressey is only a freshman and has the potential to be a star and another season under CMA should do him well.
So, my question is, how confident are you in this Missouri team going forward? Who steps up to lead this team? Does Kim English get better instead of worse? Will Dixon and Pressey finally figure out how to run this offense? Is McLemore the answer?