After reading in the comments about Haith as a coach in the thread this morning I thought that I would write my opinion on him but as I tried to enter the conversation my post got longer and longer and I ended up just putting over here in a fanpost.
Years that players have been on the Mizzou Roster and Active
Wes Clark Fr.- 1year
Criswell Sr.- 2 years
Johnathan Williams Fr- 1 year
Jordan Clarkson Jr.- 1 year
Shane Rector Fr.- 1 year
Torren Jones Fr.- 1 year
Jabari Brown Jr.- 2 years
Earnest Ross Sr.- 2 years
Ryan Rosburg Soph.- 2years
Keanau Post Jr.- 1 year
The reason that I believe coaching has not been a big issue with this team is how long Haith has had to work with them. We can count transfer years to say that some players have been at the program for three years, but I am only going to count the active years in this example. The striking thing from above is that Haith has zero players that he has coached actively for three years.
For players like Rosburg, Rector, Jones, Clark, Criswell, Post and even Ross, these are raw athletes that had to or must develop their game, typically I would say it takes a years sometimes two to transition to the speed of competition and then in the second or third year you see that jump in production.
Rector, Jones, and Clark are all players that should be in limited roles while they adjust to the increase in competition around them. I fell that Clark has done very well this year even though there are a lot of gripes about his game, he handles the ball well and at this point that all I really want from a freshman point guard that does not have the pedigree of Tyler Ennis. At this point I don’t believe Haith has had enough time with these players to see positive or negative coaching results.
Rosburg is a limited forward that in a good situation comes off the bench to play twenty minutes a game of solid defense and takes the points when he can get the easy dunks/ layups. It looks like the game has started to slow down for him slightly but he should not be counted on as a starter at this point. Unfortunately for Haith our forward position is very weak and he is the best available, I feel you can start to see the impact of Haith's coaching in the growth that Rosburg has made this year, from the beginning of the year. He has become our best post defender when he is not biting at pump fakes, and his rebounding position and boxing out have improved.
Criswell and Post are both transfers from lower competition that in the case of Criswell did not do that well at that competition (3.2pts, 3.6 reb in 14min at UAB), and in the case of Post, he was bigger and stronger then everyone else in junior college. I honestly have no clue what Haith saw in Criswell that made him extend him a scholarship offer and Post is one that just didn’t pan out and there will be plenty of those.
Ross is the obvious player that sticks out from this group. He has developed into a starting caliber guard/forward/linebacker. I can see why Haith recruited him, playing in the SEC he had a stat line of 13pts 6rebs in 31 min, and he had room to grow on that with his frame and strength. I see lots of positives from Haith’s coaching on Ross; on the defensive end he is a much better help defender and rebounder then last season, and he defends without fouling while still producing a steal a game. For Haith’s impact on his offensive game I got nothing, this year he seems to be a catch and shoot guard or second option whenever Brown or Clarkson are not on the floor. He isn’t bad but he hasn’t been incredible and I haven't noticed much growth.
Now the three that I have not mentioned are Clarkson, Brown, and Williams. Two of these three have been incredible this year. But all three had different expectations then the rest of the roster when the entered the program. Clarkson has been everything we could have wanted and more. He was a high profile transfer who has proven that he has what it takes to dominate the collegiate level. With the short time that Haith has spent with Clarkson I can’t say how much Haith's coaching has done, but if he comes back next year (big IF) we can look at him as a player and hopefully see improvements in his game.
Williams came in a highly touted freshman that early on looked like the real deal. We saw him rebound everything and just hoped that he developed a decent midrange jumper to open up the rest of his game. Now we have soured on Williams lately due to him getting blocked every time he shoots and his hands that are made of stone. I will be very interested to see what Williams looks like next year and what Haith works on Williams with. I personally hope that he practice the pick and pop 15 footer and hits the weights.
The last player in this group is the one I believe Haith has done the best job coaching. Now to be fair Brown was a very highly touted recruit and has more talent then anyone else on this team in my opinion. But think back to last year and how bad Brown was at defense. He was horrendous, teams could have run back cuts on him twenty straight possession and made fifteen layups. He has always had that sweet beautiful stroke of his but Haith has done a wonderful job of putting him in the right place on set plays out of timeouts plenty of times this year. The defensive improvements and positioning for Brown point me in the direction that Haith is doing a fine job coaching him, he is still not to be mistaken for a lockdown defender but he is not nearly as big a liability as he has been.
The first group of players, either have been at the program long enough (Rector, Jones, and Clark), may have not been talented enough (Criswell and Post), or have meet realistic expectations (Rosburg and Ross, heck Wes Clark has done this too). That’s a large part of the Roster we are not a College Basketball Power and the McDonalds All-Americans are not going to start coming to the University of Missouri. As of right now Missouri should be "rebuilding" in the sense of developing players for a larger role in the future, a "rebuilding" year does not mean that Missouri should miss the NCAA tournament but expect less then competing with the top 15 teams in the nation. As of right now I feel that this team has played up to expectations in all but two games (Georgia at Home, and Vanderbilt on the Road) Those are the only two games this season I believe we can look back on and say we should have beaten those teams. Overall there are many out there that expected a big year and we still have much of the SEC schedule to go, I expect them to go five and two in these last seven games with a loss at Tennessee and either at Georgia or at Alabama. This team is still firmly in the hunt for an NCAA birth and with 22 regular season wins and hopefully 2 SEC tourney wins we will find a spot in the field of 64 68. MIZ