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Mizzou Basketball Presser Notes: Border War Edition

Dennis Gates and Nick Honor spoke to the media on Thursday about the upcoming matchup with the Jayhawks.

NCAA Basketball: Loyola-Maryland at Missouri Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Dennis Gates and Nick Honor met with the media to preview the Border War showdown with Kansas on Saturday.

Dennis Gates | 2nd Season | Head Coach

  • On the current state of this team: “We are showing growth in areas that I’ve expected us to show it, some slower than others but we’ve showed it. Our depth has been key in our success. Being able to have guys continue to fight for playing time and different starting lineups gives us an advantage.”
  • On his connection with Kansas’ head coach: “Bill Self is a Hall of Fame coach, we share the same mentor in Leonard Hamilton, who gave Bill his first job and gave me an unbelievable opportunity as a GA and 10 years as an assistant and countless phone calls that he answers late at night when I have questions.”
  • On how his team is approaching The Phog: “We have guys that are college basketball educated, meaning that they know and have heard what it’s like to play in Kansas.”
  • On how he compares this upcoming atmosphere to others: “Mizzou Arena is a special place to play in. When you look at the fans and their excitement for games, we compete with anybody. I’ve been able to coach at Cameron Indoor, I’ve been able to coach and play at UCLA, and our fans compared to others is unbelievable. We know Kansas has a great home court advantage but that doesn’t mean that we’re not gonna compete to the best of our ability. If you look at the history, teams have conquered The Phog.”
  • On what past coaches have told him about the rivalry: “Norm [Stewart] always talks about it during our conversations. I think that every coach has told me ‘Hey, this is the game that our fans and tradition have circled.’”
  • On who he wants to see step up in December: “I like the direction that Connor Vanover is going. I love what Tamar Bates has given us. I love what Anthony Robinson II has given us. I challenge Trent Pierce, I challenge Curt Lewis and I challenge Aidan Shaw. He [Shaw] has to give us 10+ rebounds per game, and I think he’s trending in that direction.”
  • On Hunter Dickinson: “We’ve seen him play from AAU all the way to Michigan and now. He’s a dynamic player. You look at Zach Edey and himself, they’re probably the two most dominant post presences in the country right now.”

Nick Honor | Graduate Student | Point Guard

  • On his advice to younger guys on playing in an environment like this: “I just wanted to tell my guys that it’s basketball at the end of the day and to not get distracted by stuff that does not have anything to do with us.”
  • On what’s impressed him the most about Anthony Robinson II: “I would say his energy. He’s obviously a skilled player and you’ll definitely see him do a lot more as the season goes on, but the spark he brings off the bench and his ability to crawl up under ball handlers and change the course of the game. And, he’s a Florida guy, so he’s tough.”
  • On how Dennis Gates helps the team prepare for road environments: “Coach makes the practice environment hectic, puts us in all kinds of situations. Sometimes he refs our scrimmages, so there’s a couple calls that might not go our way on both sides to get us ready for that.
  • On perimeter defense being a strength for this team: “We have strength in numbers, we feel that we have one of the best core group of perimeter guards in the country. It goes back to practice and our defensive principles.”
  • On how he has educated himself on the rivalry: “It’s kinda funny, coming here last year I definitely had to do some research and ask some questions, especially to my guy Phil Pressey.”
  • On Caleb Grill’s advice about playing in The Phog: “He just said that we have to stay strong with our leads. It gets loud in there and they can always make a run, so we have to stay strong and persistent.”
  • On defending Dajuan Harris Jr.: “He’s a pretty good player, I just want to stop him from getting into the paint and limiting his vision to make those passes.”