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New Season, New Team

Mizzou logo for sports featureWith college basketball just starting up, the Missouri Tigers look to get back on track with the loss of six players and a finish of fifth in the SEC standings.

Last year, Missouri had a 23-11 record to go along with a 11-7 record in the SEC standings. When Mizzou started playing in their first SEC tournament, they lost to Ole Miss in the third round. To top it off, they had an early exit from the NCAA Tournament, losing to Colorado State 84-72.

It was a down season to some people, especially with the season Missouri had before. Missouri boasted a 30-5 record, winning the Big 12 Tournament for the last season in the conference and receiving a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Ryan Welty, sophomore and varsity basketball player, talked about his predictions for Mizzou.

“They won’t be as good as they have been in recent years” he said. “With Kentucky and Florida having good recruiting classes, Mizzou will struggle with getting past those teams for sure.”

Bradley Peck, psychology and long-time Mizzou basketball fan, commented on this year’s Missouri team.

“They will be in the middle of the pack” he said. “Mizzou will probably end up in sixth place, maybe fifth.”

While Missouri will have their hands full this year, the season looks brighter already with the acquisition of Jordan Clarkson, a transfer from the University of Tulsa. Clarkson, a junior, averaged 16.5 points per game and 2.5 assists per game.

Clarkson will have to take the reigns at point guard with Phil Pressey leaving early for the NBA Draft. Pressey averaged 7.1 assists per game, so a pure facilitator will be lost. Clarkson will have to protect the ball which was one of Pressey’s flaws, averaging 3.5 turnovers per game.

Welty also talked about Pressey and the leader he was.

“Pressey is a big lost because of the leader and floor general he was for Mizzou” he said. “Even though he was wild at times, he did a good job of getting everyone involved within the offense.”

While Clarkson is a player in need, Missouri is still inexperienced. With four starters in need of replacing, Missouri will need to dig deep if they want to get back to the scoring prolific team they once were. Earnest Ross and Tony Criswell, the two lone seniors on this rebuilding Missouri team, will have to step up and be leaders with Alex Oriaki and Lawrence Bowers not there to fire the team up when needed.

Grant Brady, senior and KU fan, stated his opinion of this year’s Missouri team.

“A team that loses that many seniors, it leaves the young guys to rise to the occasion and take over,” he said.

Brady also commented about what he wants to see from the Tigers basketball team.

“Even though I am a KU fan, I would like to see the Tigers do good,” he said. “I would like to see the local teams have success even if they are rivals to KU.”

Missouri has some transfers on the team, but they also have some young talent coming in this year. John Williams III and Wes Clark are the big recruits Missouri will be looking to ride on this year for some extra funk.  Williams, a freshman out of Memphis, TN, is a versatile power forward that can change the game with his nifty moves in the post. He can also bring the ball down the court when needed, similar to Royce White, the Iowa State power forward who coaches  considered a “Point Forward”.

On the other hand there is Wes Clark, a point guard from Detroit. Clark is being brought into replace the erratic, fast-paced Phil Pressey after Clarkson leaves. According to ESPN Recruiting 150,  Clark is six feet tall with above average ball handling abilities .

Now Missouri is starting a new season, but it will be without their head coach for the beginning of the year. Missouri Head Coach Frank Haith will be suspended the first five games of the season with sanctions being put down on him from when he was the head coach at the University of Miami. Haith is being punished for speaking with AAU coaches and having “improper contact” with recruits, ESPN reported.

Peck also talked about the allegations regarding Frank Haith.

“Well with Missouri’s schedule, they wouldn’t be playing anybody that you or  I  would have to worry about.” he said. “ It is almost like a slap on the wrist for Missouri to squeeze out of a situation like this and only lose your coach for five games.”

With the football team producing at a high rate, the Missouri Tigers basketball team looks to maintain the same success with their season just over the horizon.