It's Monday and we don't yet know where Mack Rhoades stands on the future of Kim Anderson. Over the next few days I think we'll probably hear rumors going both ways but I doubt it drags on for very long. Rhoades needs to make a swift decision because the task at hand of rebuilding the Missouri Tigers is going to be a difficult one no matter who is in charge. The longer Kim Anderson sits in limbo, the tougher it will be for him to use the post-season ban to his advantage and get to work.
There is a lot that still needs to happen on the roster side of things as well. The scholarship situation is tough because of the self-imposed sanctions coming up either this season or next, and it makes all the sense in the world to go ahead and take the sanctioned scholarship next season and get it out of the way. In fact, if I were Mack I would tell Anderson, or whoever ends up in charge, that they are taking the sanction next season and playing with 12. The rest you can figure out. Where are we in terms of numbers? Glad you asked:
There are obvious problems with continuity which Kim Anderson was hoping to address, but the roster churn has continued as next seasons roster will only feature at MOST two players that where on board when Anderson accepted the position. Shane Rector, Torren Jones, Cameron Biedscheid, Johnathan Williams III, Deuce Bello, Montaque Gill-Caesar, Martavian Payne, Wes Clark and D'Angelo Allen all left prior to their eligibility expiring. From conversations with people around the program, I'd expect at least two more defections. That's almost a full roster of players who have been in and are now out of the Missouri basketball program. Not all of this is on Kim Anderson, but some of it is. Maybe this is part of his process of cleaning things out and getting some more of his kind of players in on the roster. But for Anderson's plan to work, he has to get the guys he wants to stay to buy in. And it still feels as though there isn't full buy-in from parts of the roster.
Maybe Rhoades keeps Anderson and the last of the players not to buy in are shuffled off without too much of an APR hit, and Kim and Rob Fulford can work some magic and bring in Deshawn Corprew and either somebody like Cheickna Dembele or Kyran Bowman. Corprew seems the most likely and, like last year, it will be tough to find impact players in the spring, although the staff envisions Corprew as an impact guy. If they're able to have a productive spring and remove what's bad and bring in some good, there's reason enough to see positive things happening for Mizzou Hoops despite the darkness of the last two winters.
If Mack decides to move on however, we'll have a COMPLETELY different spring. From my understanding, if he does it will only be for somebody that is instant impact and will generate buzz. Otherwise he'll give Kim a chance to make progress next season.
Mizzou finishes the year ranked 172 in KenPom; which is 5 spots lower than where they entered the year, and 42 spots higher than last year— Sam Snelling (@SamSnellingRMN) March 6, 2016
Reasons for optimism:
Some things got better. They improved offensively and the staffs first full class of players proved to be one that you can build upon. The freshman class isn't exceptional, but they're pretty danged solid, and there's a lot to like about each guy. It's a youth filled roster who infuses some much needed size and athleticism to the roster. If the staff can figure out how to get this team to improve defensively they could easily get to .500 overall and win 6-9 games in league play. If Mizzou can land somebody like Deshawn Corprew they'll have a much higher ceiling with players like that. It's a much longer arc than we originally anticipated but after bottoming out for two years, there is a small light at the end of the tunnel.
Reasons for pessimism:
19 wins in two seasons is as bad as Missouri has seen it in most of our life times. They've won 6 games in conference play total, and none on the road the entire time. On top of that, their only win away from Mizzou Arena was against a Division II opponent in Maui last year. The roster remains unsteady and looks to continue with that trend this spring. If they don't land Corprew, the pickings are slim and you're going to rely on guys that haven't proven they can win consistently as this level. On top of that, attendance has completely bottomed out and will likely be even worse to start the season next year, basically eliminating a reliable revenue stream for the program.
Where I stand:
I'm not going to sit here and tell you that Kim Anderson is the guy for the job. I don't think he's proven that he can win games regularly at this level, even remotely. Are Mizzou fans patient enough for a long slow rebuild? It doesn't appear so because nobody is showing up to games. There is a vocal minority of fans who seem to support Anderson no matter what, but they aren't turning up to watch the team play. With that said, I do think Kim should get a third year. The APR situation isn't great, and bringing in a new coach could make it worse if some of the players decide or have it decided for them they won't be back. The APR issue will likely be solidified by the end of next season, you'll have a system president and a chancellor in place, and you will have given a good man an honest shake at turning things around. Year 3 of Kim Anderson would absolutely be the make or break season for him. As he would have a roster nearly full of guys he picked, and the expectations would increase because we'd see what his real vision is, and not one that involved trying to make do with what Haith left him.
I'm not one of these who think this roster was cratered by Frank Haith. There was a decent list of players in place, enough to win more games than they won. But Mike Alden knew the type of guy he was bringing in when he hired Kim Anderson, a virtual opposite of somebody like Frank Haith.
So Mack has a decision to make, or at least one to announce. Either way we can now turn the page on the 2015-16 Missouri basketball season and start looking forward to the 2016-17 season. Just take in some March Madness in the interim.