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Mizzou MBB looks ahead to senior day and the final game of the regular season

With Ole Miss coming to town for the season finale, Dennis Gates and Tre Gomillion reflected upon recent results and the season as a whole.

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Senior day festivities

A host of Tigers will be honored for senior day tomorrow, although it remains to be seen how many of them will return for another season in Columbia. Dennis Gates had plenty to say about almost all of the veterans on this roster:

Ben Sternberg: “He’s really a guy that I think doesn’t get enough credit. He really defines our team with his mentality and characteristics. He’s an underdog, not given some of the opportunities in life, but the path that he’s been able to pave and earn himself is remarkable. I’d have it no other way for him to go from manager, to walk-on, to captain.”

DeAndre Gholston: “He’s a tough-minded kid, one of the biggest shot-makers on this team as we have seen this season. He’s impacted the uniform that he’s put on. He decided to go to Milwaukee over Cleveland State, but I knew that our paths would cross again someday.”

D’Moi Hodge: “I couldn’t imagine him being anywhere else. I’ve impacted his life, and he’s impacted mine.”

Tre Gomillion: “The first kid I ever signed as a head coach, and nobody can ever replace that. He’s a young man that I truly believe will be on a staff one day when the ball stops bouncing. He’s great at leading men, and I couldn’t imagine being on this journey without him.”

Sean East II: “He’s infectious man. No one puts in more time than he does in this program. He knows the janitors, the janitors know him, and he knows how to turn the lights on and turn them off in the gym. I’m not sure if he’s on staff or what but he knows everything about this building [Mizzou Arena] because he’s made it a second home.”

The senior day ceremony will take place after the conclusion of the Ole Miss game.

“I’ve always recognized guys who have done four years regardless of if it’s a medical redshirt, however many years they got left,” Gates said of who will be honored.

He went on to explain that he has not had any conversations with players about returning for next season, and for some, going to the NBA. Gates says that he’s always waited until after the season for these discussions because he wants his players to stay in the moment and not miss out on memories.

Time to reflect

Year one of the Dennis Gates era has gone by in a flash. Now facing postseason tournament play, Gates reflected on everything that has gone in to this season.

“Our season is built a certain way from the summer in preparation, all the way into non-conference, closed scrimmages, road games; all of those situations add up,” Gates said.

This team has certainly improved mightily since the opener against Southern Indiana on Nov. 7. There have been plenty of bumps in the road, but everything is a part of the process according to Gates.

“When you look at growth, you look at taking two steps forward and one step backwards,” Gates said. “As long as you’re gradually improving in certain areas and finding more about yourself as a unit, then you’re doing it right.”

Gomillion cites the team’s connectivity and developed relationships as a major reason for this team’s recent success. Gates agreed, explaining that he always hopes for his players to be standings for each other’s weddings and have life-long relationships off the court.

“The experience with each other and the chemistry with the time put in through the season, guys now know each other’s moves and where they like shots,” Gomillion said regarding how this team has improved the most. “That’s the biggest thing; guys playing more with each other.”

Through Sternberg’s vlogs and the team’s constant high-energy, that team chemistry is plain to see, and the players seem well on their way to remaining friends for life.

A new challenger approaches

Missouri cruised to an 89-77 win over Ole Miss in Oxford on Jan. 24. The Tigers shot “the piss out of the ball” as Gomillion puts it, and the game itself was rarely ever in doubt.

However, the Rebels’ best player did not take the floor on that day. Junior guard Matthew Murrell leads Ole Miss with 15.0 points per game to go along with 2.6 assist per game. Following a 26-point performance against Texas A&M on Tuesday, Murrell is eager to introduce himself to the Tigers this weekend.

“He’s an unbelievable wing, a great scorer and decision maker,” Gates said. “He’s definitely as asset to them if you continue to watch the games that he’s been in.”

Murrell will likely face a host of Tiger defenders, although Hodge and Honor should see him the most.