State of Mizzou Basketball: Kim Anderson is your new Hoops Overlord

AlaTiger, ArmchairAnalyst, Belegcam, CBonerfied and I were asked what we thought of the hiring of Kim Anderson and what we thought it all meant going forward.

AlaTiger: It's not the most exciting hire. That doesn't mean it was a bad hire. Sometimes the flashy candidate or the "obvious" candidate is not a good fit, and interviews are more about fit than anything else. How does this person fit into your department? Do they reflect your organization's values? Do they recognize their deficiencies and understand how to select complementary staff? How do they fit into the current situation?

Because we didn't participate in these interviews, we don't know all the answers. We can, though, make some informed speculation. After a time of tumult, perhaps the most important characteristic was a true desire to be at the University of Missouri. Not for career advancement, nor for career rehabilitation, but a real belief in the university itself. Kim Anderson has that in spades. Another key in the current situation is the ability to integrate transfers into a cohesive unit. Division II is by nature transfer laden, and Kim's championship team was stuffed with transfers who he molded into a national championship team. In my view, the age thing is overplayed. If Kim is doing well and happy, he can easily last ten years.

What I have to assume is that he displayed an understanding of his shortcomings and had a plan to address those, through staff hires or otherwise. The big concern is recruiting. Will he get the players he needs to fit his system? Rich Daly was known as the recruiter on the Norm staffs. Who will fill that role on Kim's staff? One potential positive: high school coaches care about how you treat all of their recruitable athletes, not just the superstars. The fact that Kim has apparently established solid relationships in his previous role can only help.

I don't know if I can place a win total on next year's team. There was great doubt about what we had when Haith was in charge, and if anything that doubt may grow until we know who Anderson can retain. What I do want to see is a team that plays solid defense and has a recognizable offensive structure beyond give Jordan the ball and get out of the way.

So ultimately, I place my trust in Mike Alden to assess the situation and get the right coach for the circumstance. We'll know in a few years how successful he was.

Armchar Analyst: I'm underwhelmed. After spending the last ten days debating the merits of coaches like Gregg Marshal, Ben Howland, and Jay Wright - however facetiously - the Kim Anderson hire felt a lot more like a ground out than a home run. I'll readily admit that my overinflated expectations may be leading to some unwarranted disappointment, but asking me to temper my excitement during a coaching search would be like asking your dog to keep it cool when you open the fridge. Neither of us are smart enough to remember to stay calm when the prospect of a tasty treat enters the equation. Unfortunately, instead of the succulent strip of bacon I was pining for since I heard Mike Alden break the seal on the refrigerator door, I ended up with a plain, old hotdog.

To put it bluntly, Alden just hired a man to coach his basketball team that he deemed less attractive than Frank Haith in 2011. Circumstances have obviously changed since then, but the fact remains that Mizzou is replacing Haith with a coach who he was hired over just three years ago. You can argue that Anderson's success at Central Missouri during that time earned him another shot, and you would have a legitimate point. The Mules definitely accomplished a lot under his tutelage, but they did so in Division II. Manning the helm of a Division I program will be significantly tougher. I would've preferred to hand the reigns to someone with a proven track record at the highest level of college basketball. Hell, any sort of track record would've been nice, good or bad. Anderson posses neither, yet here we are.

My issues with this fanbase's infatuation with Norm Stewart are documented, so it shouldn't be a surprise that the fervent chants for Kim initially left a sour taste in my mouth. As his candidacy became more legitimate, I set my distaste aside and took a serious look at Kim Anderson's qualifications. In doing so, I came away with a major question: would he have even been on Missouri's radar if it weren't for his ties to the program? I lean towards no, but there's a reason no one pays me to make these decisions. It's entirely possible that he could thrive, but we won't know if Anderson can stand the heat until he's thrown into the fire.

Had I been expecting the this hire from the beginning, I probably wouldn't feel so disenchanted. But that wasn't the case. Alden made the decision to conduct the entirety of the hiring process behind closed doors, and he did a damn good job of it. A few stories surfaced claiming Anderson was Alden's guy, but they could have easily been guesses that turned out to be correct, and most of us dismissed them as such. Had Alden been a bit more transparent in his decision-making, it's certainly possible that we may have been more accepting of his choice.

He wasn't though, and that's okay. I'll never blame any public figure for opting not to share their every whim with the public. Sure, Alden could've softened the blow a bit, but he would've had to offer himself up to the anonymous masses to do so. He hasn't completely dodged the criticism, but he did manage to avoid it during the most stressful part of his job. I have faith that this allowed him to calmly collect his thoughts and make the decision he thought was best. So far, that seems to be the case.

Since the hire, information has come out that would lead me to believe Marshall at least considered the job and ultimately decided the timing wasn't right. Take that how you will, but to me it screams, "I would've been a Tiger for the right amount, and Mizzou wasn't willing to hit my number." If the administration deemed that number to be too high, I'll trust their judgement. We haven't heard anything from Howland's camp yet, so we can only speculate about his level of interest. As more details emerge, we may find that Kim was the only candidate to show serious interest. We may also discover that we had our pick of the litter. Each scenario is disheartening in its own way, but we're going to have to move past that.

We've cast our lot with Anderson, and it's not like there's nothing to root for here. This Son is about as True as they come. You can bet your ass that he's going to come in to work every single day and give his all. This is the program that helped make him who he is: a coach that employs a tough, in-your-face brand of defense and an up-tempo offense. It's an exciting combination that I'm eager to see in action.

If the current roster can gel with it - I'm hopeful that they can - I don't think a finish in the top third of the SEC is out of the question. It would be unreasonable to expect a team that's losing over 70% of its scoring from the previous year to easily make the tourney while playing in a power conference (har, har). Throw a regime change into the mix, and the season outlook gets that much murkier. If Mizzou catches a whiff of the NCAA Tournament, I'll consider Anderson's first season a success. Best case scenario: the players rally around Anderson, buy into his philosophy, rattle off a few upsets, and sneak into the Big Dance.

This year isn't my biggest concern, it's the future that I'm more worried about. Anderson already has a team to work with in 2014-15, what he doesn't have is a team to work with in 2015-16. Recruiting is going to be Kim's weakness, and it's one that we can conceivably shore up quite a bit by surrounding him with a stellar supporting cast. Retaining Fuller would obviously go a long way towards accomplishing that. It doesn't seem like there's been much traction on that front, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed. If the reports of a five-year, $1.1 million-ish deal for Anderson are accurate, we'll have enough spare change to throw a hefty raise Fuller's way. Hopefully that'll be enough to keep him around. If it's not, I'll be far more worried than I currently am.

Worried is probably the wrong word. I'm not worried, I'm just a bit disgruntled. Soon, I'll complete the transition from frustration to cautious optimism. Kim Anderson is our head coach, regardless of the circumstances that led to his hiring. He will be leading the Tigers into battle for the foreseeable future, and I'll be cheering him on just as hard as I would've cheered on any of the other names on our hot list. After all, it's not the name of the back of the jersey that matters, it's the one on the front. MIZ-ZOU.

Belegcam: Okay, so let me start by saying that if Mike Alden was trying to please a certain demographic by making this hire, I'm definitely not in it.  My Missouri fandom's only overlap with the Norm years is the late '90s, which I think we can all agree weren't exactly his golden years.  When Kim Anderson was Big 8 player of the year, I wasn't born yet.  When Kim Anderson was last associated with the University of Missouri, I hadn't yet entered high school, and I didn't have the slightest clue who he was.  Heck, I didn't even know what he looked like until a few days ago.  Reflected Norm glory isn't doing anything for me.  I'm not impressed by the #TrueSon angle, either.  Frankly, "is an alum" is pretty far down my list of criteria for a head coach.  (I'm not an alum either.  Throw produce at me if you must.)  So from the beginning, some of the major things in Anderson's pro column are non-starters for me.

For me, the only important question is whether Kim Anderson can coach and recruit at this level.  There were some good discussions today (yesterday, when this goes up) about the difference between D-1 and D-2, and it seems to be smaller than I would have initially thought.  A good D-2 team (like Anderson's UCM) could reasonably be considered to be equivalent in talent to a low- or even mid-major squad in D-1.  That said, I'm still a bit iffy about Anderson's ability to make the jump.  Remember that even Bo Ryan and Bruce Pearl had D-1 mid-major stints before ascending to the big leagues.  Anderson doesn't have any experience as a head coach in D-1, and his most recent experience at D-1 in any coaching capacity was 15 years ago.  Unfair though it might be, I'd feel substantially more comfortable with this hire if Anderson was at Missouri State.

That said, I'll try my best to look at this objectively.  As far as the Xs and Os go, I'm not worried.  There's no reason play-calling and systems that worked at UCM shouldn't work at Missouri.  Recruiting is a thornier issue.  At UCM, Anderson had access to something he won't have at Missouri: the ability to accept D-1 transfers who don't want to sit out a year.  It seems that he took full advantage of this to build his teams, although I don't know exactly how his roster balance between transfers and 4-year guys stood.  At Missouri, he's going to have to bring in and retain recruits to do well.  (Transfers, as I've said many, many times, make a great supplement to a roster, but building your team around them doesn't tend to work out.)  And it is here that we run into a big, big issue with Anderson: I can't see him drawing the big-time recruits unless he already has some solid on-court success going for him.  (And by big-time, I don't mean the one-and-done guys.  We weren't getting those guys anyway.  I'm talking about the kind of guys we're used to getting: the Jakeenan Gants, the Namon Wrights.)  Maybe his great relationships with Missouri HS coaches offsets that a bit, but I don't see KA as having the ability to attract, say, a 4-star who's drawing interest from other major programs.  Maybe if you get Fuller on board, the problem's patched to a degree, but he won't stick around forever.  Obviously, success fixes problems like this.  If Missouri becomes a perennial tournament team under HCKA, this issue goes away.  If Missouri is scuffling along as a .500 team in the middle of the SEC pack, it's very much there.

And that brings me to our next issue: attendance and interest in Missouri men's basketball.  Both tailed off badly last season, which is worrisome.  With Anderson coming on board, that will probably see a jump, and if he can put together a likable team that plays hard, we'll probably see another jump.  This would be a positive development, but I see two major issues on the horizon.  For one, some the attendance issues might not be within Anderson's power to fix.  Maybe tickets just cost too much, maybe people just aren't as interested in SEC games.  And secondly, I worry that improvements Anderson can bring would be temporary.  Will the fans continue to come out for the scrappy, hard-working team that keeps missing the tournament?  Maybe, maybe not.  Although some Mizzou fans (both here and elsewhere) welcome the prospect of being a "football school," I can't sign on to that (even if I really like football)  which is why I think this needs fixing.  I have seen game threads on other SEC blogs not hit double figures in comments.  This is a regular occurrence.  Don't let this happen, Mizzou.

So, my bottom line on Anderson is that I'm not at all convinced that he was the right choice when you set aside sentimentality.  That said, I really, really want to be wrong.  This program deserves greatness, and if Kim Anderson is the man to deliver that greatness, I will absolutely take it with no reservations.  If any Anderson supporters want to save this for future servings of crow, feel free.  I will eat it with gusto.

CBonerfied: I think that everyone who has already commented has nailed much of what I would say.  Good stuff.

For me, I have softened my stance overnight.  A good night of sleep and waking up to Atch's magnificent post was helpful in making me get further behind Kim Anderson the person.  And the more I think about it, I can find significance in his deep Mizzou ties; if this university means as much to him as the #narrative suggests, he'll have no shortage of investment in the program.  I imagine Kim Anderson will say all the right things and be a great ambassador for the university.

Also, while this may seem like peeing on ashes, he's not Frank Haith.  I don't know if it was possible for me to be as frustrated with a gameplan and a team as I was with last year's squad, and while I advocated to give Frank another year, he made our lives easier.  Point for Kim there.  But...

Everyone would have received that point.  And all we want as fans is a winning program to be proud of.  To think that Kim Anderson was the best available option capable of providing us that, in the absence of knowledge into the hiring process, is a stretch based on what we know RIGHT NOW.  I am on record numerous times saying that I preferred an up-and-comer with head coaching experience who has demonstrated the ability to stay at the top of their conference for a multi-year period.  Also, many of us desired a coach with significant RECENT recruiting seeds already sewn.  It truly is a different ball game now from 15 years ago.

At the end of the day, this hire will warm a lot of people up to the b-ball program again....but all that matters is the wins and losses.  My personal opinion is that there was a significantly lower risk in taking a younger D-I head coach, but that means nothing now.  I am behind Kim Anderson, he is Mizzou through and through, and he will want to win.

And with the money saved on his salary, he deserves his own aptly named and impressive form of transportation to wow recruits.  A Kim-Vee?  A Kim-O-Zine?  A KimStream?

HHKB Chris: A little less than a day after the big reveal I find myself less angry (I'm maturing!) than I thought I might be, but more confused and full of questions that no one can really answer at this point.

Can Kim Anderson recruit D1 players to Mizzou?  Can he retain Fuller as an assistant to help in recruiting?  Is Fuller even that great a recruiter?  If we're basing it on results at Mizzou, the jury is still out.  JW3 looks great, and Clark and the Tornado have potential, but they could just be role players.

Can Kim Anderson coach and make in game adjustments against the likes of Kentucky, Florida, and the rest of the SEC?  I've watched one game that he coached and that was last year's game where the Mules lost to this year's Mizzou squad.  I wasn't paying attention to the Mules or Kim Anderson so I have no idea.

Can Kim Anderson make the jump that Bo Ryan did just without the D1 experience?  Both Bruce Pearl and Bo Ryan made successful jumps to the D1 level, we'll see if Kim Anderson can make that leap as well.  But again, we just don't know yet.

Basically, we have a coach that I would have been shocked to have gotten an interview had he not attended Mizzou and even more shocked to have been offered the job.  I'm paraphrasing from a Chris Rock piece about OJ Simpson as a bus driver instead of a football player here but if Kim Anderson hadn't been an alum of Mizzou, he'd have just been Kim Anderson, that guy that won the D2 National Championship at some school I've never heard of.  And this will stick with me for a little bit.

But that's all irrelevant today, Kim Anderson is our coach and the expectation is that he will bring the Missouri back to Mizzou, that this will potentially increase ticket sales from older alumni who stayed away because of who the coach was and that the glory days (which I'm not sure were all that glorious if you count NCAA tournament victories as important) will be back upon us.  The reality may be something completely different.

For the fans that yearn for stability and the comfort of things remembered this probably is making them very happy but at the end of the day all that really matters is wins and losses.  If Kim Anderson's teams win, the fans will come and if they lose, they won't regardless of where he went to school.  Mizzou fans really embrace the motto of the state by demanding you "Show them."

Well Kim Anderson, looks like it's your time after 15 years, and 3 other coaches to show us, how long you get to show us will depend on you, the players you bring in, Mike Alden and those boosters who woke up this morning with a renewed vigor and pep in their step.

Good luck, I'll be cheering you and oh, get on Twitter, it's 2014, you kind of have to whether you want to or not.

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