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What Dennis Gates and Sean East II had to say prior to Mizzou starting the regular season

Words from the head coach himself and one of the team’s captains

Utah State v Missouri Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

In three days, Missouri men’s basketball will take the court for its first game of the 2023-24 regular season. Coming off a 25-win season that saw the Tigers win its first NCAA Tournament game since 2011, the Tigers embark on a new journey with aspirations of playing on April 6th and 8th in Glendale, Arizona. Head coach Dennis Gates and returning guard Sean East II gave their thoughts ahead of their November 6 matchup with Arkansas Pine-Bluff.

Dennis Gates

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Louisiana State Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

On Mizzou’s opponents and Arkansas Pine-Bluff: “Our schedule that we put together is not an easy schedule by any means, and we kick that off Monday night against a tough APB (Arkansas Pine-Bluff) team led by coach (Solomon) Bozeman, who I respect dearly. He comes from a great basketball family.”

On what he wants to see accomplished in the first game: “Just being able to be consistent in what we do. Obviously, have a positive assist-to-turnover ratio. We want to be able to shoot the three at a certain percentage. We want to lead the country in free throw percentage.”

Words on the potential starting lineup and rotations: “So this season, you look at Noah Carter, you look at Nick Honor and Sean East. I think those guys give us a unique starting trio. From there, we have to figure out who else is deserving and who else wins out.”

On Caleb Grill, John Tonje, Kaleb Brown, Noah Carter, Nick Honor, Sean East II, and Tamar Bates: “These guys are definitely a connected group of guys. Communication is important, but also how you respond to adversity, and I want these guys to be able to talk through certain points in the game, certain issues, and execute what we need to execute.”

More on Noah Carter: “He has the experience to put the ball in the basket and rebound but also give us what we need from experience but also a leadership standpoint. There’s many games where he could have definitely gotten over 30 points, and I truly believe his unselfishness, and obviously the presence of Kobe Brown, kind of made him take the backseat to that. That’s just that unselfish spirit, and we need that throughout the season.”

On Aidan Shaw’s progression: “I think he has a strength that a lot of people don’t have, and I want him to obviously show that every time out. So, he has grown without a doubt. He’s a year older, a couple of pounds heavier, and obviously a little bit more’s not easy what I’m asking him to do, but it’s possible that he can do those things, and he’s a special player when he executes that.”

On returnees Kaleb Brown and Mabjor Majak: “Mabor Majak has been playing tremendous basketball, and I want his role to grow. Kaleb Brown, who I spoke about to you guys, just based off the most improved player this summer, I want him to continue to grow. I don’t want any complacency seeping into our program.”

On this year’s bench: “When you look at JV Brown, you look at Danny Stephens, Jackson Francois, those guys have to lead us vocally on the bench, no different than Ben Sternberg did.”

Graduate guard Sean East II

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament Second Round-Princeton vs Missouri Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Feeling towards playing the first game of the season: “It’s my last first game of my college career, so I’m kind of anxious but trying to stay level-headed at the same time.”

On his comfortability within the program: “It’s been a journey, but having Coach Gates with me and him executing and telling me what he needs out of me this year...I’m just trying to take it all in at the same time. It’s coming fast, but it’s been fun.”

What he’s telling Curt Lewis to expect this season: “I’m just telling him don’t expect anything or, you know, try to put too much pressure on yourself...just come in and do what you’ve been doing for a long time now.”

On the pressure and expectations for this season: “No pressure for us. We’re just going to come out and play hard and do what we do. So, it’s not going to be any pressure for us.”

On becoming a more vocal leader: “Five, four, six guys leaving? So, I mean, somebody’s got to step up and do it, and I was one of the returners and just stepping into that role and drive the culture and drive everything that we want to do into the young guys. We have five freshmen and 11 newcomers total, so I mean, me, Nick, Noah, and Mabor gotta be kind of like driving it alongside the coaches.”