Last year at this time, we were getting our first taste of the Kim Anderson experience and we were all optimistic. Then, last year happened. A team comprised primarily of freshman and sophomores, with a rookie coaching staff and the departure of some players that would be counted on to contribute and lessen the load, transferred away for any number of reasons, which led to what we will just refer to as "9-23."
But with the black and gold game we officially get to close the book on the 2014-2015 season and focus on 2015 - 2016 and hopefully a better showing than last year. If you've been ignoring Mizzou basketball since March of 2015 let's get you caught up with what you've missed.
- After a tough season Jonathan Williams III surprisingly transferred from Mizzou to Gonzaga, one of the main reasons being cited was a lack of chemistry with his teammates.
- Deuce Bello also transferred (a move that only would have surprised you if you had been living under a rock) after getting pretty much no playing time all season long, despite a team that could have used him with players getting suspended or being ineffective all season.
- Tim Fuller parted ways with Mizzou in a mutual separation and in a stellar interview with Sam Snelling shared some of the behind the scenes things that led Mizzou down the path from Miami accusations to the inexperienced roster they had last year. This great interview led to Sam being accused of destroying Mizzou basketball. Which is plainly not true, Sam destroyed Mizzou basketball much earlier than the publication of that interview.
- Corey Tate (#TRUESON!!!!) was hired to replace Fuller on Kim Anderson's staff. It was noted that he had a strong acumen for the game, ability to relate to players and wide reach of recruiting reputation in the midwest. His connection to the AAU St. Louis Eagles was also big plus, but for whatever reason, he was not able to exploit those relationships to Mizzou's advantage.
- In startling news in the dead of July, Montaque Gill-Caeser also transferred from Mizzou to San Diego State, never returning to Columbia after trying out for the Canadian National Team. Teki had a very bumpy season and after getting body slammed in the Illinois game never was right again.
- Mizzou brought in Terrance Phillips, Cullen Van Lear, KJ Walton, Kevin Puryear, Martavian Payne and Russell Woods this offseason to solidify the roster and provide some depth in areas of need after the departures of the aforementioned former Tigers.
- Kim Anderson hired Steve Shields (formerly of UALR) as a special assistant to his staff with some of the leftover Fuller money and should ease the burden of running a D1 program from KA so he can spend his time teaching in the gym and on the recruiting trail.
- The Mizzou family is putting all it's support behind Assistant Coach Brad Loos' daughter who was recently diagnosed with bone cancer at 5 years old. Cancer sucks, it sucks really, really hard. RallyForRhyan.
So, it's been a busy couple of months to say the least. But it's time to look forward. When you're watching tonight's exhibition, what should you expect and what should you look for? While it won't give us a definitive answer to how the upcoming season will go, we can glean some answers to the bigger questions heading into the season.
- How does Wes Clark look? If you recall Clark dislocated his elbow after going for a loose ball in Columbia East against South Carolina last February. Does his shot look altered? How comfortable does he appear with the ball in his hand?
- Who is running the point? Aside from Terrance Phillips Mizzou does not have a true point guard. Does Tramaine Isabell act as the primary ball handler, moving Wes Clark to more of an off guard position (which he has said he is not), or is Tramaine the second option off the bench? Or are we going to Smurf town and starting all three?
- Can the team shoot? Last year, Mizzou could not shoot the ball, and it killed them. Any progress in this area will be needed if they are going to improve on last year's showing.
- How are Namon Wright, KJ Walton and Martavian Payne shooting from the outside? This season they'll be relied upon to keep defenses honest around the perimeter to give the bigs some chances down low and to allow for some slashing from the other guards. Mizzou can't just be a jump shooting team.
- Is the low post going to be manned primarily by Jakeenan Gant and Russell Woods, or has Ryan Rosburg managed to hold off the sophomore and JUCO transfer?
- How has D'Angelo Allen's game progressed? Is he still playing in the 3 spot with a bigger focus on getting his outside shot, or is he banging down low with the big bodies?
- Where do freshmen Cullen VanLeer and Kevin Puryear fit in with a roster already filled with established players?
- Will Kim Anderson do something weird? PLEASE DO SOMETHING WEIRD!!!!
That should cover everyone in some fashion and give you something to watch, aside from you know, the actual scrimmage. In the meantime here's a fantastically nerdy Hoops tweet to get you prepped for the Winter.
Here are the details for tonight's affair, when to come, how to get in and what to wear.