A Recap of Mizzou Men’s Basketball So Far

With the loss of Phil Pressey, Alex Oriakhi, and Laurence Bowers, many wondered how the Mizzou Tigers men’s basketball team would fare this year.  It would be the first year that head coach Frank Haith would display a team that is comprised of players that he recruited.  All of former head coach Mike Anderson’s players had moved on. However, with their starting big men gone and their point guard, would Mizzou be able to compete this season? This was the main concern for the Tigers entering the season: would they be able to replace the front line scoring and rebounding that they had last year. So how is the season progressing? With last night’s loss to LSU, the Tigers have dropped to 2-3 in conference play and 14-4 overall.  The non-conference schedule was soft, and produced a quality win over UCLA at home, but a frustrating loss to Illinois in the Braggin’ Rights game.  This is the same Illinois team that has now dropped four straight Big 10 games.  The conference schedule has produced what will surely look like a bad loss to Georgia at home, and a road loss to a mediocre Vanderbilt team.  So what’s the problem? It’s what everyone has been saying: the front line is not producing the rebounds and points that the team had last year with Bowers and Oriakhi. The statistics do not lie.  Last year, Alex Oriakhi averaged 11.2 points a game and 8.4 rebounds.  Laurence Bowers averaged 14.1 points a game and 6.1 rebounds.  This year, Jonathan Williams III, who is a freshman, is averaging 7.1 points a game and 7.4 rebounds.  Ryan Rosberg is averaging 4.5 points a game and 4.4 rebounds.  Coach Haith has publicly complained that the team is just not finishing strong at the rim.  Missed layups and inconsistent rebounding has put Mizzou in a difficult spot.  The guard play has been strong, but it’s not enough to make up for the soft inside play in close games. So, Mizzou is what its record indicates. Unranked and clearly with work to do if it wants to make the NCAA tournament.

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