1. Three days to Vandy
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2. You can only pass the tests you're given
3. Timeliness is good, not needing timeliness is better
4. Hello, hoops
On a new "feeling" this year with all the new guys...
"It has been new every year. We had a new group last year. We have a new group this year. I will say this, the feeling is different in that we do have more players returning this year than we did last year. Last year, we only had Phil Pressey returning from the year before. That was pretty unusual. One player returning, you usually have one starter returning (and some other guys) and we had one player (total) returning. So, this year with guys like Stefan (Jankovic), Earnest (Ross), Jabari (Brown), Tony (Criswell) and Ryan Rosburg, we have guys that were on our team last year and that helps."
On this being the first year that Coach Haith has recruited every player on the roster...
"From day one when I got the job, I thought this was our team. I don't really look at it that way or look at those things. As for you guys, you have obviously figured that out. I think for us to have the kind of team we had for those first two years, we looked at those guys as our guys. This team is no different from our first year team or last year's team. They are all our players."
On differences running screen-and-roll with a scorer like Clarkson instead of a playmaker like Pressey …
"I think Jordan, he has the ability to make plays like Phil. I mean, Phil was as good a passer as I’ve ever been around, but I think Jordan does have a feel to hit open people. You look at his size at 6-5 … I think Jordan, one of the things, we looked at angles of our ball-screen stuff, because when he gets going downhill, he’s a great finisher at the basket. Phil kind of struggled sometimes doing that. But you’ve really got to, with pick-and-roll, you’ve got to pick how you’re going to defend it in terms of what you’re going to try to take away, and I think Jordan will do a good job in terms of taking advantage of the defense, what they give him."
On impact of Clarkson’s size on the defensive end …
"He’s by far—and I think Wes Clark as a freshman is a pretty good defender too—Jordan is our best defender. He’s really good on the ball. He’s good off the ball. He has great instincts. He runs down loose balls, and that’s a great quality to have" when "your point guard is your best defender. A guy that’s the frontline of your defense. It starts with him. And Wes, he’s our other really good perimeter defender right now. Both those guys, they’re really committed to defending, and that really helps your defense."
"That’s pretty much what we’re trying to harp on is our defense," said forward Tony Criswell, one of two seniors on the Tigers’ roster. "We have a lot of talent and a lot of athletic guys. We’re sure that we’re going to be really good on defense, but, as far as effort and being together, that’s the strides we’re taking."
It’s been eye-opening for freshman forward Johnathan Williams III, a four-star recruit and potential starter. He said Missouri’s practices have been as intense as games already.
"You just have to see it," Williams said. "It’s amazing out here."
Pressey played a major role in recruiting Clarkson to Missouri, calling his old friend five or six times a week, according to Clarkson.
"When it was time for me to transfer, he was like, ‘Hey, man, you might as well come and stop through and see how it is.'"
The prodding paid off as Clarkson pledged allegiance to the Tigers in May 2012.
After sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer guidelines, Clarkson is ready to fill Pressey’s shoes.
"It’s definitely more exciting than usual, being able to play this year, knowing that I’ve been sitting out all last year, just working, getting ready for a time like this," Clarkson said Tuesday afternoon, before the team’s second practice of the season.
According to coach Frank Haith, Clarkson will fill more than just Pressey’s slot as the starting point guard - he’s also assumed the leadership role vacated by Pressey.
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