Being that I still haven't gotten around to watching the UMSL game I DVR'd last weekend, this was my first look at Mike Anderson's second edition. Some quick thoughts before I shower and hit the sack...
Let's just run down the roster...
Demarre Carroll: Energy, energy, energy, and apparently a deadly baby hook. That thing's ugly as hell, but he made pretty much every one. HAS TO improve from the free-throw line, though. He's going to be there a lot this year, and it could make or break Mizzou in some games this year. He really is fun to watch though.
Keon Lawrence. He runs around like a little kid enjoying the game, and he has the "John Kruk's batting stance" version of a basketball shot. How can he not be my favorite player? Love this kid.
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Stefhon Hannah. His touch was a little off tonight, but he was under control and made some nice passes. I'm not worried about him.
J.T. Tiller. LOVE this kid too. He's always full-speed and almost always in control (aside from the play where three different guys drew a charge on him at once because he was so infinitely out of control). He's a pure energy guy, and while I'm not sure I'd trust him to run the point for 30 minutes a game or anything, I think the team's better when he's on the court. When Anderson called off the dogs and sank Mizzou back into a 2-3 zone at the end of the first half, I swear it seemed like Tiller had 8 straight steals. He was everywhere the ball was.
Leo Lyons. Looks about the same as last year. He too needs to work on the free throws, and his range really doesn't seem to extend beyond about 3 feet from the basket, there's no question the dude can finish around the hoop.
Nick Berardini. Love that he hit a three off of a Matt Lawrence-esque head fake.
Jason Horton. Also looks the same as last year. Made an open 3, helped corral the offense when it started to lose control, but hopefully Tiller and Keon steal more and more of his PT this year.
Michael Anderson Jr. Coach Dad put him in with 2 or 3 minutes left in the first half to try to give MO Western a breather. He was...fine.
Marshall Brown. You know, I think I really like him as a sixth (or seventh) man. Bringing Keon and Marshall off the bench brings you both automatic scoring and nice athleticism.
Justin Safford. Welcome to Mizzou, Mr. Safford. Never mind the sick alley-oop...he very much plays within himself, and he had a lovely no look pass to Anderson Jr. in the second half. I think I'm gonna like this kid...though I guess I should wait till I see him against a team with a pulse.
Vaidatos Volkus. Possibly a great bench guy. To paraphrase Bill Simmons, he's like a homeless man's Demarre Carroll, and as long as we don't have to count on him for more than 10-12 MPG max, I think he can make a solid contribution.
Matt Lawrence. He was announced as 6'7 in the starting lineup introductions, so he apparently grew an inch in the offseason? That said, he looked taller and skinnier than I remembered him...which is fine, I guess. His shot looks exactly the same...just gorgeous.
Darryl Butterfield. He was Darryl Butterfield. Another good role player as long as his role doesn't grow too large.
More random thoughts...
- I really do like this team, but I'm not sure how much rebounding and free throws (combined with a rougher non-con slate) are going to hurt them. When that press is working, though, it's just a gorgeous thing to watch.
- I'm not sure if MO Western is worse than the '98-99 UA-Pine Bluff team that John Woods was joking about during the game, but...yeah, they were all sorts of bad.
- Jeers to the refs...18 fouls in the first 7.5 minutes of a freaking exhibition game??? Granted, after that they were alright...bodies were hitting the floor a lot, and they had to call something, but oy. The first half lasted 65 minutes, and Mizzou was winning by freaking 45!
- I love how confident Michael Wilbon was on PTI today while talking about how Kansas would beat Mizzou and possibly go undefeated (in football)...when it's pretty much a guarantee that he's seen neither Kansas nor Mizzou play this year...and for that matter, he probably hasn't seen OU play either. Sorry...had to mention this somewhere...
- There were 1,500 more people there tonight than for Saturday's UMSL game. In other words, I just cannot imagine how empty that place was Saturday. No wonder Mizzou sleepwalked in the first half of that game.