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Rock M Roundtable: Kim Anderson, Frank Haith, narratives and expectations

The Knights of the Round-ball table reconvene to discuss the Kim Anderson hire and his coaching staff, our parting shots thoughts about Frank Haith, and predicting the narratives for 2014



Well, OK.  I'll throw another one out.  When KA was hired, I think it's fair to say that many of us were nonplussed (to the extent that at least one commenter called us out on it.)  If we assume that he's done all that he's going to do program-wise until the season starts, what's your opinion now?  Increased? Decreased? Need to see on-court results to change your opinion?


My answer: pleasantly surprised but will need to see product on the court. So far he aced the first phase of the hire - he won all us all over with the recruiting and and coaching hires. The second phase will be the season and the third will be how he does going into next year.

The Rob Fulford hire, paired with the retention of Tim Fuller seems like real effort to recruit the nation's top basketball talent. It'd be pretty damn cool to start seeing blue chip basketball players filling the roster even if it's on the way to the NBA. I think the modern game has evolved where you have three types of recruits: 1-2 year guys who are destined for the NBA, the second type are 3-4 year guys who contribute consistency to the program before graduating/heading to a professional league, and the third type who are depth and spot contributors. For the past few years, Mizzou has had a lot of the second and third type of guys and we rallied our support for the likes of Laurence Bowers and Steeeeeeeeve Moore, but a program can only over-achieve (if you want to call it that) for so long before it needs help.


At first I was not enthused and thought it was a weak hire, and I still doubt he gets the job if CMSU doesn't win the Division 2 title.

However, he's passed every test aside from actually coaching that we could have wanted.  Retained Fuller and Tibaldi, retained all of Frank's recruits, added some more of his own and filled out his staff with a quality up and coming coach who can recruit the bejesus out of the world.

That all being said, I am sticking by what I said when he was hired, show me the results on the court.  If the team looks organized and and is playing with passion and we lose this first year, that's fine, because it will have been an improvement over the dross we saw last year.  If the they look like a free for all then I'll start to question his and his assistants abilities.

Finally, I just want to know what his problem is with the hats....what's the deal with hats KA?!


I've been really impressed by the ability of KA and the staff he's assembled to recruit despite being new to the program (keeping Fuller and Tibaldi helps here, of course.)  I was fully expecting to end up with a class that was weak, tiny, or both.  Maybe, if we were really lucky, we'd keep one of Gant or Wright.  Instead, he held on to both and picked up some intriguing new pieces as well.  It's a shame we missed out on the eminently memeable Kevin Punter, but we replaced him with a guy named Shamburger, so it's all good.

Really, the only downside to this is how playing time shakes out.  With transfers much more common nowadays, you have to seriously worry about losing a guy who isn't playing much.  You can't just tell a guy that if he works hard in practice, he'll be a starter his junior year anymore.  This was, in my eyes, one of the more serious problems under Haith, and it really wreaked havoc on the development of a solid core.  Who gets time and how much will be something to keep an eye on.

Overall, I've been impressed with Anderson (relative to my expectations, at least).  The proof will be in the pudding, of course, and I'll feel very differently if the team throws out a clunker of a season, but Kim gets an A from me for now.


Maybe KA is just one of those guys who looks funny in a hat, so he takes out his anger for his personal shortcomings on everyone else. Thus... no hats.

I'd like to think that I've been pretty consistent on this issue of the Anderson hire. I never doubted his ability to coach. Coaching wasn't the reason I wasn't thrilled with the hire. I knew, and know, he can coach. He can relate to players because people don't change much, sure players today, at least elite players might have a bit more of an ego, but as somebody who played I know that even the lower level guys have an ego as well. I had mild concerns with his age but nothing crazy. More because I would like somebody that is going to be at Mizzou for a LONG time since we've been through 3 coaches since Norm. My biggest concern was hiring Anderson for Ol Mizzou's sake. That he would get the band back together and take us back to the era of Norm with his assistant coaching hires. I worried that he would bring in several guys from his CMU staff, maybe a former player... something that would thrill the same alumni base that pined for the Norm Stewart years but wouldn't be effective at landing the talent necessary to compete in the SEC.

The home run hire would have been Gregg Marshall. Without Marshall, Mizzou was in a tough spot because there simply wasn't anybody out there who was a home run hire. Since they had to move on to plan B I think Alden moved to Anderson and hoped that he wouldn't do everything I mentioned above. That he would go out and retain Tim Fuller, and find a 3rd assistant who was going to get him players. Head coaches close in recruiting, but the assistants get in the door. And when he hired Rob Fulford, it solidified to me that Kim Anderson was going to be his own guy, but even more, he understood what it takes to compete at this level. It takes players. Now that he's got the assistants who can go out and find the players, most of my nervousness has been calmed because I know he has the staff that can land players.


On the topics of things done to death, what do you foresee as being a subject, a talking point we'll be tired of hearing about by season end? "Frank Haith left for Tulsa" will obviously be repeated ad nauseum, to the point I'm trying to figure out what nickname we should give him? We have "Suitcase Mike", what about "Phonecall Frank"?

When Mike Anderson left, I actually defended him for the most part, because I thought it was mostly due to his scummy agent Jimmy Sexton. When Haith left, I felt no sympathy or remorse because it seemed to be all his own doing, and poorly handled at that.


I would expect plenty of "hometown hero Kim Anderson," and much will be made of how this is his first D-1 job.  Also, "Missouri lost 80% (or whatever) of last year's production.  How are they going to replace that?"


Lots of homecoming references and the fact that Mizzou invented, coming home of Biedschied tied in as well.

For Frank how about, Frank "the hell with defense" Haith, or Frank "always one step ahead of the chopping block" Haith

I'll throw out another question, what would constitute a good first season for KA record wise both con and non con?

Also how awful is Vanderbilt's court?



A good season for KA is hard to peg for me personally. Mainly because I'm not exactly sure what to expect. I hope that they're better coached on Defense than they've been, the talent is certainly on the roster to be pretty good. I don't think an NCAA bid is out of the question by any stretch. I think they should be able to find a way to win 20 games at least. With probably about 26 max. If HCKA can get this team to 26 wins it will complete perhaps the best opening salvo for a first year from a Mizzou coach, maybe ever. Haith has such success his first year on the court, but the off the court issues plagued him and stunted recruiting. Kim Anderson has had none of that. He's gotten the staff, he's gotten the recruits (so far), and if they run off 26 wins... I mean, we'll have a parade. I'm also sure that a faction of the fan base will be calling for Alden to be fired because it took him so long to hire KA. Not that there isn't right now. Realistically he needs to get this team to a minimum of 20 wins. Anything less and I would consider it a disappointing season.

I like Phone Call Frank, btw. Vanderbilt's court is bad, but I'm pretty sure it's not the devil. And the big meme for the season will be new to D1 coach KA and how he's handling it


A "good" season would be an NCAA tournament bid. May sound like a lot but if you're going to put Phone Call Frank in front of the firing range for missing the NCAA tournament, it would see you have to have the same consistency with Kim Anderson. #TrueSon-ness and program trajectory aside, a "good" season for Mizzou HAS to be an NCAA tournament from now on. I think that's the standard that's been set.

A subset of the "good" season would be a demonstrative improvement in the enjoy-ability of watching games. Tenacious Defense→ Fastbreaks→ Secondary fastbreaks→ Half-court of Threes and Dunks run out of whatever system Kim Anderson implements to make that happen.

Confession, Vanderbilt's court only mildly bothers me.


Got to agree with FU here.  A tournament bid would make me very happy, and I think it's very achievable.  I would probably even be happy with a near miss and NIT bid, given solid improvement from the team.  (Like last year, except without all the aggravating bits.)

I don't really mind Vanderbilt's court.  My personal hate court is A&M's, which needs to die in a fire.


I don't know that many put Haith on the firing squad because he missed the tournament. I know I didn't. I think Haith bailed because he knew next year could be bumpy due to the roster and didn't like his chances to withstand the heat and come out with his job. Anyone with eyes can see that this roster has the talent to make it to the NCAAs. But they can also see that the talent is very young and still has much to prove. So making the tournament isn't a given.

I think program expectations should be to make the NCAAs every year. But I also feel that you have to give the benefit of the doubt to a first year coach with a roster of young players. And to be fair, I would have given the same benefit to Haith had he stuck around. I just don't know that Alden would have.


Well, Chris asked what a good year would be.  Missing the tournament wouldn't thrill me, but I wouldn't go searching for the pitchforks and torches unless the team was well below .500 bad.


I actually have a real-live pitchfork in my garage I walk by everyday. I just need someone to provide a torch unless this monster isn't afraid of fire.


I can probably drum up some torches.

But I've always hated assigning an arbitrary record expectation to a team because I think expectations are a more fluid thing. If everybody is healthy I think the expectations are different than if you play 3/4 of the season without 2 starters due to injury and you lose a bunch of games by 2 points. If Mizzou is under .500, but they're competitive in all the games, I'll feel better about the team going into next year because young teams often need to learn how to win.

That said I really don't anticipate anything like a .500 record out of this bunch.


I'm going to answer my own question because well this is America I'm told.

I think a good year is over .500 in the SEC and sniffing at a bid late in the season and one not built on record done in December/January.  That the team is playing good D and at least halfway decent to watch.

I think expecting an NCAA bid should the standard at Mizzou but I'm willing to give KA the benefit of one year to get things right in his way.

As for Vandy's Court, it's worse than hell.


We keep hearing about how so far Mizzou has barely practiced any offense, focusing primarily on defense. Did Kim Anderson forget to hire a coach for offense or are we going to try and implement the Harvard 4 Corner offense next year?


So here's the interesting thing, it's always been my belief that you forces on offense and individual skill development in the offseason, and work on defense during the season. So it seems like a big departure from "conventional coach think" for Anderson to have that approach. I get that we want to get back to this defensive minded philosophy at Mizzou, and that's all well and good with me, but I think we really need to make sure that we aren't doing these things for the wrong reasons. Right now this is a very young team, and a lot of players are rough around the edges. They need skill development in a big way.

The reason defense is usually the in season focus and offense is the offseason focus is because you want your offense to be pumping on all cylinders to go against defense to make your D better. Also because Defense is really about effort and space. Knowing where you are supposed to be. It's much less complicated than offense. I just hope that KA is making sure that our team can score the ball, because that 4-corner offense is great when you don't have a shot clock.


Perhaps the main reason for the focus on defense is that when KA looked at the film of last year and the pre-froshs (PCU reference!) tapes showed a real lack of ability that caused him some concern.

Maybe this team is just really that bad at defending that he wanted to start at square one to either put in a set system or just to teach the basics, including communication, which can work for the offense as well.


Agreed with Chris.  Most of AAU and summer basketball for prep prospects is about offense, in my estimation.  Kids grow up learning how to score a lot more than how to properly position themselves on D nowadays.

For all of our shortcomings on that side of the ball for the last three years, it's nice to have some defense being prioritized.  While we don't know who will score for our team next year, it is nice to know that the D should be improved.


That was my feeling as well.  They know how to score (if maybe not in a polished manner), but not how to play tough D.  Can't really speak as to whether it's a good or bad thing, though.


I guess what I'm hearing is that Kim Anderson is trying to flip the script and have Mizzou's offense develop while having to face tough, well positioned and hustling defense.

That may be reductionist, but it seems like that's a good strategy given the trouble Mizzou faced in the past couple years was when faced with having to score when the defense was set and anticipating our best players/plays. If the tone set by Mizzou's defense forces players to develop more than one or two aspects of their offensive game, that can only be a net positive over the course of a season.

I think another aspect of this is forcing offensive players to begin breaking down defenses early in the season so later, when they're more fatigued, it comes more naturally.


Yeah, I'm not convinced that's how it really works though. I'm also not convinced at all that Haith was committed to defense in the way that KA will be. The offseason emphasis on defense worries me a bit because we know that this team returns almost zero scoring. The whole adage of "you can't lose if the other team doesn't score" sounds great, but it's freaking basketball. Even the worst teams score at some point. And I think you can keep defense simple enough to go hard at it once the season starts. I would probably spend some time focusing on it in the offseason from a principles standpoint. Showing the guys what it is that we are going to do. But I just wouldn't make it a primary focus. We need to make sure we can score enough points to win.

I wasn't there for any Haith practices, but I do believe that losing Brown, Ross and Clarkson (who guarded the PG a lot) will end up being a net plus defensively. I'm more worried about how we are going to score next year.


Definitely agree that losing those three will be a net gain on that side of the ball, and agree with the idea that our offense is going to take a step back.  I was mostly approaching my statement with the idea that players grow up practicing offense (through shooting around and pick-up games, which is basically what AAU is) a lot more than having structured defensive practice, which may or may not be true--just a perception.

I'm fairly convinced that our offense will have lesser results than last year, but it won't anger me as much as last year's selfishness did.  When our big 3 stalled out during SEC play, it was awful for me to watch such non-team oriented offense (annoyed me so much that I wrote that article about A/FGM).

Since I haven't been on this entire thread much, I can summarize all of my thoughts by saying that the more distance we get from the Frank Haith era and with what we can reflect on in the early stages of the Kim Anderson era, the last three months have been a HUGE net win for our basketball program.  While I didn't want Frank to be fired, I was definitely not upset that he left--it made things easy.  To be where we are now--great staff in tow, in play for bigtime players, a Mizzou lifer in charge, and with our fan base being pretty united on the state of our basketball team--it's pretty exciting.


I echo that last paragraph really. I also didn't want Haith fired. But I wasn't necessarily sad to see him go either. Next season will certainly be interesting, but I am really excited for the future of this program.

Until next time!