Thursday, May 25, 2006

An evening with Mike Anderson

By Tiger Fan

I just got back from an Alumni Association Rally for new Mizzou basketball coach Mike Anderson and I must say I was very impressed. Anderson was met with two standing ovations from the crowd, but he also drew seven or eight more spontaneous ovations during his speech. For a minute, I thought I was at a State of the Union address… but then I realized that the man speaking actually knew what he was talking about. It remains to be seen how he will do on the basketball court, but I think Anderson is definitely winning the PR battle off the court, which is something Mizzou basketball desperately needs. He says all the right things and does it with the type of enthusiasm that can be infectious. I’ve liked the Anderson hire all along, but now I’m really starting to get excited about Mizzou basketball again. Cautiously, of course. Here are some more specific quotations from the evening:

-Corey Tate and Ryan Kiernan were both at the cocktail hour beforehand. I liked that Anderson made reference of these two during his talk. Anderson says he views the basketball team as a family, so these guys are already part of his family because they have contributed to Mizzou in the past. It’s definitely nice to see that folks like that support Anderson.

-“Mike Alden wanted so badly to be here, but he is caught in bad weather in Denver.” Oh darn.

-John Kadlec filled admirably for Alden, giving a quick update on the state of the department. Kadlec made specific mention of the baseball team, saying they are in a good position to win the Big XII tournament. (note: I think he’s right. The Tigers got a big win last night over Oklahoma State thanks to an excellent outing from Nathan Culp. That means Scherzer is available to pitch Friday against OU and Zagone can go Saturday against the beakers. If all goes well, that means Jamieson can start Culp in the championship game on Sunday and throw the whole staff at them if necessary… after all, if they don’t win, the season is probably over. But it’s still possible. And the Tigers are getting hot at the right time, having won five straight.) Kadlec also talked about spring football, observing that he thinks TEs Coffman and Rucker are ahead of where Tiger great Kellen Winslow was at this point in his career. That’s downright scary. (For anyone who doesn’t know, Winslow is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and his No. 83 has been retired at Mizzou.)

-Anderson was charismatic and straightforward at the mic. He was honest too: “I’m not going to lie. At first, it may look more like 25 minutes of hell and 15 minutes of ‘What the heck are we doing?’” (I respect that kind of honesty.)

-More from Anderson: “I’m going to win a national championship. I don’t know when, but I’m going to do it. That’s just me; that’s Mike Anderson.” (Works for me.)

-On fan support: “I’m not going to be satisfied until we have 15,000 packed in there every night. And they’re going to be there to see us… not whoever we are playing.” (There’s a reason I know that the Hearnes Center holds exactly 13,611 people. It’s because we used to sell it out every game. Let’s find out what Mizzou Arena holds.)

-On the speed of play in his system: “If you take a bathroom break, you’re going to miss something.”

-On recruiting: “We’re going to start by putting up giant walls around the borders. Recruiting is the lifeblood of any program.”

-On his practices: “I like to encourage competition. Our practices are like war. That’s where you earn your playing time.” (He also said all the current players were gasping after the first drill of the first workout. That’s what I’m talking about.)

-On his offensive philosophy and game plan: “We attack on the offensive end just like we do on the defensive end. If we play the defense right, they won’t have time to set up whatever defense they are planning to use.” (At least one guy in the crowd seemed to question Anderson’s game planning skills because “everyone is pressing nowadays.” This is a prime example of basketball ignorance. Anderson’s game plan is not the type of press that kids are running in junior high… and he does it for the whole game, not just in spurts. I’m pretty sure Kentucky wasn’t ready for it a couple years ago when they lost to UAB in the tourney… and it worked pretty well for Arkansas when they won a national title. So I recommend that all the armchair point guards out there reserve judgment until you actually see it in action.)

-On his coaching style: “No one plays like us. They’re not going to be ready. But good coaches make adjustments. That’s how you win games.” (Any chance we could get him to have a little talk with Pinkle?)

Overall, Mike Anderson really won me over tonight. If you don’t get excited listening to him talk about the future of Mizzou basketball, I don’t know what to tell you. Things are finally moving in the right direction. What kind of guy is Anderson? After his speech, tons of folks were lined up to shake his hand and wish him luck. I didn’t want to take up much of his time, so I shook his hand, told him I was happy to meet him and that I am looking forward to the season. Before I could walk away, he stopped me: “It’s nice to meet you too. What’s your name?” So I told him and we talked briefly about my history with Zou Crew and such. It didn’t last more than 30 seconds, but things like that can really make a difference when it comes to establishing relationships between the athletic department and the fans. I think Anderson is a good coach, but he seems to be an even better person… and that’s exactly what Mizzou needs right now.


Anonymous said...

Excellent report. I am looking forward to meeting Mr. Anderson in KC next week. In fact, I am down right excited.

It is great to hear more and more people from around not only the Mizzou bball community, but also anyone who has met MA that he is the real deal.

I think we might have captured lightning in a bottle with Mr. Anderson.

Anonymous said...

I think Huggins is still gooder.

-fatty fat fat

Jeff said...

Thanks for that report. I wasn't able to make it, but reading your account helps make up for that a little.

As you say, everyone seems to have the same belief that Coach Anderson is the real deal and one of a kind.

I think we are truly lucky to have him, particularly given the tragi-comic way we landed him. Maybe God is finally smiling on Tiger Nation.

I know a number of other school's wish they had hired him.