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SEC Basketball Team Preview: #5 Missouri Tigers

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Taking a look at our own Missouri Tigers with help from ChickenHoops from GarnetAndBlackAttack.com, HHKB Chris, & switzy227. All predictions on the upcoming season are based upon a Game-By-Game pick of the upcoming season instead of just ranking the teams, in hopes we would get a more interesting look at the team rankings.

Mizzou Record

MizzouCoach

WHO THEY LOST

  • Earnest Ross, Graduated
  • Jabari Brown, Professional
  • Jordan Clarkson, Professional
  • Tony Criswell, Graduated
  • Torren Jones, Dismissed

Few teams lost as much as Missouri, and have so little coming back. Tennessee is in competition on that one, but it’s close either way. Torren Jones was dismissed before the school year started. Cameron Beidscheid left at the end of September without having played a minute in uniform. Earnest Ross, who averaged 14 points per game, and Tony Criswell both graduated. Juniors Jordan Clarkson, 17.5 ppg, and Jabari Brown, 19.9 ppg, both declared for the NBA draft. Perhaps the frustrating part is that only Clarkson was drafted, and the Tigers sure could use some of Brown’s scoring this season. With Ross, Brown and Clarkson, Mizzou lost approximately 157% ( *not the actual percentage* ) of their reliable scoring.

WHO IS COMING BACK?

player

yr

pos

min

pts

rbds

asts

fg%

ft%

3fg%

Johnathan Williams III

SO

F

26.3

5.8

6.5

0.7

45.4%

56.5%

36.4%

Ryan Rosburg

JR

F

22.2

4.8

4.1

0.3

71.6%

56.9%

0.0%

Wes Clark

SO

G

20.4

4.1

2.2

2.1

35.9%

63.3%

36.8%

Keanau Post

SR

F

8.1

1.5

1.7

0.0

63.3%

30.0%

0.0%

The leading returning scorer from last year is Johnathan Williams III. The sophomore forward was a highly ranked recruit and consensus 4-star player coming out of high school, he also started every game for the Tigers last year. Though his impact fluctuated wildly at times, Williams is the mostly likely player that you can point to as somebody who can be the best player on the team. Wes Clark is another sophomore who saw a lot of quality minutes as a freshman and proved that he can play at the major level, he had some rocky moments a year ago and didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, but all the reports coming out of preseason camp are that he’s a new player this year. Missouri will need Clark to take on a much larger role and be more of an impact guy. Ryan Rosburg is a solid if unspectacular big man who doesn’t provide big numbers, but does all the little things well. Keanau Post is a guy who showed some flashes of huge potential while at the same time playing like he was scared to do something wrong which led to him having a hard time finding the floor.

JOHNATHAN WILLIAMS III
sophomore forward
PLAYER TO WATCH

Photo credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The leading returning scorer for Mizzou averaged a paltry 5.8 points per game last year. But there was a lot to like about Williams season, he’s a fierce rebounder and was an offseason of weight training away from being a real impact player. Missouri needs him to fulfill that expectation. Also coming off minor knee surgery it might take him a bit to get going, but Williams well rounded game should give Mizzou the edge it needs on the interior to challenge the long line of teams with stellar frontcourts in the SEC.

WES CLARK
sophomore guard
UNDER THE RADAR

Photo credit: Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports

After an up and down first season and a rocky offseason that started with an arrest, Clark reset his course and has turned into a leader that the team needs. He’s a crafty ball handler, exceptional passer, and better shooter than his numbers showed a season ago. Most fans, and possibly those on the coaching staff, likely had too high of expectations on Clark heading into his freshman season, so his performance, if anything, has tempered the expectations for this season. But have no doubts, Clark at his best has the potential to be an all-conference level performer.

WHO ARE THE NEWCOMERS?

FR Montaque Gill-Caesar 6'6" 215 lb 4-star #31 SF
FR Jakeenan Gant 6'8" 207 lb 4-star #52 PF
FR Namon Wright 6'5" 200 lb 4-star #73 SG
FR D'Angelo Allen 6'7" 220 lb 3-star - SF
FR Tramaine Isabell 6'0" 180 lb 3-star - PG
JR Deuce Bello 6'4" 198 lb 4-star #54 SG
SR Keith Shamburger 5'11" 170 lb 2-star - PG

A pretty incredibly and deeply talented incoming group of newcomers. The least renowned is probably Keith Shamburger who comes in to contribute at point guard as a 5th year transfer, the experience and calm on the floor should help gavanize the younger players. Tramaine Isabell and D’Angelo Allen come in as relatively unheralded 3-star recruits but should add to the competitiveness of the team. Both players were big winners at the championship level in high school, love to play defense, and have a swagger in their game that shows they aren’t afraid to compete. Deuce Bello transfers in from Baylor as a former highly touted recruit hoping to live up to his potential. Then the 4-star combo of Teki Gill-Caesar, Jakeenan Gant and Namon Wright fills out the newcomer list. All three should be able to contribute and contribute a lot early on. Gant is a springy forward with decent shooting range, Wright is a strong and athletic wing with improving ball skills, and Gill-Caesar is a bull of a small forward who will get to the free throw line a lot with his ability to attack the rim. The one name missing from this list is Cameron Biedscheid, who left the program at the end of September.

DEPTH CHART

DepthChartIMG

Point Guard Off Guard Wing Forward Big Forward Center
Shamburger Clark Gill-Caesar Williams III Rosburg
Isabell Wright Bello Gant Post

OVERVIEW

There are a lot of reasons why this team shouldn’t succeed. A first year coach at the Division 1 level. A team that lost more than 70% of their scoring from a year ago. A team that’s leading returner averaged under 6 points per game. Plus, a lot of youth. 2 seniors, 2 juniors, 2 sophomores and a slew of freshmen, all of which are expected to contribute. The odds are not in Missouri’s favor to have a successful season.

So why is it that so many Missouri fans, including myself, are hopeful, positive even, about this upcoming season? It’s a complex question. To start you have to go over the last two seasons of disappointing basketball that has been played at Mizzou. Frank Haith endeared himself to the fanbase with a pretty outstanding first season, a National Coach of the Year award, and a 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. That teams weakness was defense. And defense continued to be a problem for Haith’s teams in the next few years. The exposure of Haith and his teams seemed to create a malaise around Missouri basketball in a way that not just affected attendance, but any sense of excitement for the future.

Mizzou fans were mostly still forgiving of Haith despite of all this. Most even willing to give him another shot when he bolted for safer and more secure pastures in Tulsa. Waht Haith knew was the roster challenges were going to be the biggest hurdle this season. He had a couple talented transfers coming in, a highly touted freshmen class moving up, and another highly regarded freshmen class coming in. He was out trying to land an impact scoring guard before deciding to bail. The roster was young, and the season was likely to be rocky. So he bolted rather than face possible termination following next year. At that point most Mizzou fans breathed a sigh of relief. There was almost a reluctant relationship with Haith. He came in, had NCAA troubles, won big, went to the SEC, underachieved for two years, recruited well… it was like a TV drama that’s lost it’s edge but you keep watching because you want to see what happens.

The problem on Mizzou’s roster was never a lack of talent. The talent is there in the form of 7 former 4-star recruits.

To say that Kim Anderson won the press conference doesn’t quite say it all. Anderson has won the offseason. He did everything you would hope the new coach would do. The optimism is something else though. The problem on Mizzou’s roster was never a lack of talent. The talent is there in the form of 7 former 4-star recruits. What seemed to lack was passion, hustle, and probably most importantly, a plan. The assistant coaches, perhaps most notably the holdover Tim Fuller, have spoken out about how great Coach Anderson has been about his plan for Mizzou.

The non-conference slate is tough though not necessarily as unforgiving as it appears. Games against Arizona and Oklahoma are very likely to be losses. But a home game against Xavier, and neutral site games against Oklahoma State and Illinois are tough but not insurmountable. The level of competition could prepare this young team to make a good run in league play, or it could beat them down a bit and leave them reeling. I can see this team surpassing expectations and winning more than 20 games, or I can see them skidding to a .500 record overall. Missouri will likely struggle to score throughout the season (and we've seen evidence of that to this point), and that may prevent them from being able to get over the proverbial hump. That kind of performance could end with a 10th place finish in the league. At the same time they could fight like hell, dive all over the floor and out work their opponents, then find a way to finish with an NCAA bid and a top 4 finish in the league. Anything is possible at this point. And that is what makes it exciting.

RMN Responds

We asked ChickenHoops of Garnet & Black Attack to do an outsiders view of the Missouri Tigers in this slot, trying to make sure this wasn't a big homery preview. Below ChickenHoops comments are switzy's picks for the upcoming season. For ChickenHoops picks you'll have to reference the Gamecocks Preview.

It's hard to view Missouri through anything other than its losses. Of course, that starts at the top, with the switch from Haith to Anderson. I think we can all agree that losing Haith is no big travesty, but at the same time, it's difficult to know what Anderson will bring to the court in his first year coaching at the highest level of college basketball.

There's also no way of getting around the three massive losses of Brown, Clarkson, and Ross, each of whom played over 30 minutes a game last season for the Tigers while using the lion's share of possessions. And that was on a pretty average team!

Who scores? Rosburg doesn't seem like anything other than role players, so newcomers need to step up in a major way for this group to even get back to last year's level, let alone the heights that Missouri fans expect. Williams was highly touted coming in, and he was plenty decent last year, but he has to take on a drastic increase in his role, and it's unclear if he can handle it.

Obviously, there are a ton of talented players that are coming to Columbia for Missouri this season, and that certainly increases the possibility that the Tigers can take off quickly - unproven includes the possibility that players can be better than expected. But Missouri needs a lot of things to fall their way this season to end up as even a top 50 team, and I'm skeptical those things will all occur.

South Carolina relied heavily on (less talented) freshmen last year, and simply couldn't sustain success in a down SEC with them. The nice thing about freshmen, though, is that they become sophomores. So I think Missouri's going to be back in fine form quite soon, as these newcomers improve under Anderson. But given what it's replacing, and the lack of proven replacements, I have a hard time seeing Missouri finishing anywhere better than 6th or 7th in an SEC that's slowly improving in the middle.

switzy's picks
HHKB Says

The University of Missouri invented Homecoming and the Tigers really took it to an extreme in the offseason by hiring former Mizzou standout Kim Anderson. Kim Anderson proves one thing is that if you want a job, no is not a definite, it’s just a challenge. The Tigers will be young, unproven and with little experience, but there’s excited in Columbia for basketball, simply because Frank Haith isn’t walking through that door, enjoy Tulsa Frank, you will be, well not missed, but people will notice that you’re not there anymore.


Each SBNation site was asked for one representative to submit a Game-by-Game pick of the upcoming SEC season to get a different look than if we just asked them to submit a ranking by team, or a prediction for their record. It yielded some interesting results. If you would like to partake in the pick 'em game with the so-called experts, here is the link to the Google Form we used:

I'll keep the form open to be filled out until the SEC season starts. If you would like a nifty rankings image like you see above from switzy's picks, send me an email or tweet and I'll make it happen. You can also follow me on Twitter: