Gates’ first time at the Hearnes
The No. 16 Missouri gymnastics team took down No. 5 Auburn 197.450 to 196.55 on Sunday night. The upset victory came in front of 6,041 fans, a new record for the Hearnes Center. Dennis Gates was in attendance.
“It was an outstanding atmosphere,” Gates said. “I was able to see how electric the Hearnes Center is. It was my first time at the Hearnes, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.”
The Tigers’ next meet will be this Friday against Arkansas in Fayetteville.
“I was just realizing how good our gymnasts program is, to be able to defeat a top five program and being ranked themselves,” Gates said.
Another shot at the Bulldogs
In the two teams’ first meeting, Mississippi State edged Missouri 63-52 in Starkville. For the seconds straight game, revenge is on the mind for the Tigers.
“They’re one of the best defensive teams in our conference,” Gates said of MSU. “I think they do a great job in forcing programs to take tough shots, holding the score down and being able to post-feed at a high-level.”
The man they feed in the post is 6-foot-11 senior forward Tolu Smith. He had 25 points and 12 rebounds in the first game against Mizzou, and he has consistently been one of the most dominant players in the SEC for the past two seasons.
“What’s unique is his time of possession is very low, but his effectiveness is very high,” Gates said of Smith. “He does a great job of timing, and he’s a seasoned veteran.”
Kobe Brown learned a lot from the loss to the Bulldogs, citing that they are a contrast in style to how Mizzou usually plays.
“They want two-pointers before they want threes,” Brown said. “They want to pound the ball inside, getting drive-and-kicks for openings on dump-offs and dunks. They want to play through Tolu as much as they can.”
Michael Jordan’s influence
Gates also spoke a bit on the images of him sitting with Michael Jordan that are floating around social media, as well as his influence on him as a young man growing up in Chicago.
“My high school was literally a couple blocks away from the United Center. You were able to see the championships, the progress of the organization, the ups and downs,” Gates explains. “But also, the perseverance that they showed.”
Gates went on to state that he would sit at a table with a notepad and try to draw the triangle offense frequently, citing that it influenced his love of the Xs and Os.
“I was fortunate enough to where there were workouts during the summers when I was in college, where Michael Jordan would open up Attack Athletics with the famous trainer Tim Grover,” Gates said. “[Grover] taught me how to get out of my comfort zone. He’d say ‘hey, we have an NBA workout, and I know you want to get into coaching, so you may just want to walk around and introduce yourself.’”
Gates emphasized that, despite the eras of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, Michael Jordan will always be his GOAT.