Thursday, November 09, 2006

Basketball season is here

By Tiger Fan

In case you are looking for a way to pass the time this weekend with the football Tigers on a bye week, let me remind you that the Mizzou basketball team opens play this weekend with three games in three days. Things tip off Friday night… but it won’t be on TV for some reason. Anyway, I’ve had the opportunity to watch both of the exhibition games so far this season and I’ve been generally pleased with what I have seen. I’m not expecting a Big XII title or anything, but at least we have a reason to pay attention again. Here’s a rundown:

Good news…

-Stefhon Hannah is the best point guard Mizzou has had in a long, long time. I’ve heard lifelong Tiger fans compare his abilities to those of Melvin Booker. He’s very quick, plays solid defense, knocks down 3s and throws a killer alley-oop. Too bad he wasn’t around for the end of the Rickey Paulding era.

-Marshall Brown will need to step up this year if the Tigers are going to accomplish anything. So far, so good. It may just be the inferior opponents, but Brown has been doing a good job of attacking the basket… plus, playing with Hannah really seems to elevate his game.

-Matt Lawrence has proven himself to be a good shooter when he gets the chance. That’s something we will desperately need.

-The new system is fun to watch. Even when Mizzou was obliterating the Lithuania Academy, I was entertained by all the steals and fast breaks. It’s probably a product of the system, but the Tigers also seem to be playing with a lot more energy and heart

-Stefhon Hannah is the best thing that ever happened to Jason Horton. First, Hannah’s presence keeps Horton from bringing it up the court and pounding it into the floor for 20 seconds. And second, he is pushing Horton and making him a better player. Have I mentioned how excited I am about Stefhon Hannah?

-Volkus seems like a solid contributor. He’s not going to win any style points, but he’s not afraid to get in there and rebound… which is good because don’t really have any big guys inside to handle that.

-Butterfield has more touch than I expected.

-Tiller appears to have all the physical tools and is a solid defender. Now it’s just a matter of refining his game to make him a complete player

-Grimes is quicker after shedding a few pounds in the offseason.

-We are scoring at a much better clip this year. I know that UMR and Lithuania Academy are horrible, but we scored 105 and 94 respectively. That’s much better than the totals we put up in last year. Unfortunately, I remember the days when we used to do that during the actual season… of course, I also remember needing a buzzer beater to beat the EA Sports All-Stars.

-We have a chance to surprise some people because this system allows us to play beyond our talent level. If we were playing in Quin’s “system” with this year’s talent, we would lose a TON of games

-We have a coach that is actually coaching this year. Seriously. Every time you look over there, Anderson is standing up, calling out instructions, moving guys around. Maybe I have forgotten that Quin used to do this, but I remember looking at the bench last year during the Braggin’ Rights game and seeing Quin sitting down and looking defeated. Attitude reflects leadership.

Bad news…

-We’re going to get killed inside this year. Definitely once Big XII play starts but maybe even before then. We better steal the ball before they get into a half-court set or we will be in big trouble. It sure would be nice to have DeMarre Carroll right about now… or Ty Morrison… sigh…

-… or Leo Lyons, for that matter. Lyons has been out for the exhibition games with undisclosed academic troubles. Great... just what we need. Hard to believe Kentucky wanted this guy.

-Keon Lawrence and Glen Dandridge are hurt and probably will be for at least another month. We know what Dandridge brings to the table and I can easily see him starting over Lawrence in this system. It fits his game perfectly. We still don’t know about K-Law. If the rumors are true, we want him out there ASAP.

-Mike Anderson Jr. isn’t a big addition, but at least he’s not using a scholarship. I have a sneaky suspicion that once everyone is healthy, we won’t be seeing very much of him.

-Grimes is being way too fancy with his shots. In both exhibition games, he was the biggest player on the floor, but he was shooting fade-aways and jump shots. He needs to take it strong to the rim and go through people. If he can’t be tough inside, it’s going to be a long season.

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