All right, it's time for me to make my return after allowing my esteemed colleague to dominate the postings for so long. You know what that means, folks! That's right, prepare for some mocking, and some bitterness. And maybe some analysis somewhere in between.
Well, the late basketball signing period ended this week, and Mike Anderson really impressed me with the players he was able to sign. He came in late and still got some good players who fit his system well. Here's my take on the class...
First and foremost, keeping New Jersey boy Keon Lawrence was huge. Though the Rutgers fans were convinced Keon would dump MU for the Scarlet Knights (though why he'd do that after already turning down one chance to get out of his LoI is beyong me), it didn't happen. Lawrence, by all indications, is a fantastic scorer. Coincidentally, that's MU's biggest need next season. Of course, this is an MU team, so I won't get my hopes up TOO high -- because then he'll bust for sure. But if Lawrence is the real deal, there's no telling what this team can do.
The biggest news of the signing period, though, was luring PG Stefhon Hannah away from Bob Huggins and the K-State kitties. At best, Hannah will start and be a big upgrade over Horton (read: won't spend 25 seconds pounding the ball into the court like he wants to kill it); at worst, he'll be solid and give the Tigers two point guards. Sorry, Thuggy bear.
DeMarre Carroll, a transfer from Vanderbilt, also should have a big impact - next year (damn NCAA regulations). OK, maybe this wasn't a hard sell for Anderson (after all, Carroll is his nephew), but he will give MU another athletic, combo forward, and that fits into this system perfectly (you reading this, Ty Morrison?)
SG J.T. Tiller sounds like a freakish athlete who likes to play defense. Good fit for the system.
The other signess, Vaidatos Volkus and Darryl Butterfield, won't be big stars, but if they play defense, rebound, and run the floor, they'll be doing their jobs.
And therein lies the biggest adjustment MU fans must make with Anderson as the coach. MU won't rely on any Arthur Johnson types in the future; CMA's system is about athleticism and length. Bigs such as Leo Lyons will be the norm now. Adjust we must...
So, with all that said, I'm optimistic about next season's team. I'm sure there will be growing pains, but I can see Anderson's plans starting to take shape. I'm looking forward to seeing the fruits of his labor a year or two down the road.
PS - Thomas Gardner signed with an agent, committing him to getting bypassed in the NBA draft. Good bye Thomas - we'll miss you - have fun playing in Europe.