#18 Missouri Men's Basketball Preview

Missouri Tigers

Overall Rank: #18
Conference Rank: #3 Big 12
Missouri Men's College Basketball Logo
Missouri Team Page

2010-11: 23-11, 8-8
2010-11 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Frank Haith (First year at Missouri, 129-101 overall)

Missouri seems pretty unstable at the moment with a new coach coming in and conference realignment rumors swirling all over Columbia. Coach Frank Haith will keep things relatively similar to the Tigers team of the past few years, which means this team will still get up and down the floor and play pressure defense. That is the personnel Coach Haith has at his disposal and he will slowly slow things down over the years, but do not expect many major changes in 2011-2012.

Who’s Out:
Another problem Missouri ran into during the offseason was a season ending injury to Laurence Bowers. The 6-8 senior averaged 11.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.8 blocks last year and he will certainly be missed under the basket. The Tigers have five other players who averaged at least 20 minutes per game and they are all returning. Forward Justin Safford is the biggest loss and the only graduating senior. Safford averaged 6.4 points and 3.6 rebounds during his final collegiate campaign. Ricky Kreklow and John Underwood were not major contributors last season and both opted to transfer.

Who’s In:
With the injury to Bowers and a couple incoming transfers who must sit out this season, the Tigers are a little light on scholarship players. That is not a good thing for a team that runs. Kadeem Green is the only scholarship newcomer who will play this season. The 6-8, 210 pound forward should have a positive impact right away. He sat out last season after suffering an injury during high school and knows how to play with all the returning talent. Green is a good athlete who should immediately replace Bowers ability to block shots. Tony Lester is a walk-on point guard who will not see much playing time this year and may redshirt.

Who to Watch:
Depth may sound like an issue, but that will not apply to the backcourt. This is a very talented and deep unit that will lead Missouri back to the NCAA Tournament. It starts with Marcus Denmon, who led the team with 16.9 points per game a year ago, is one of the best shooters in the nation. He connected on 44.8 percent of his long range attempts and will use his 6-3 frame to attack the basket as well. Even on those rare occasions when Denmon’s shot is not falling, he will still do a ton of scoring by getting to the rim. Denmon is also a superb defender and can shut down some of the best guards in the Big 12. Kim English will start beside Denmon on the wing. English had a relatively disappointing junior campaign, averaging 10.0 points per game. His shooting numbers went down, but he certainly has the capability of being just as efficient as Denmon. Michael Dixon and Phil Pressey will once again share minutes at the point guard position. Dixon emerged as a quality shooter last season and that made him extremely difficult to defend. Pressey started a dozen games as a freshman and set school records for a freshman in assists and steals. With those two options at the point, Missouri will always be in good hands.  Matt Pressey, Phil’s brother, is an experienced senior who will provide much of the depth on the wing. Jarrett Sutton will have the opportunity to earn some minutes as well.

Final Projection:
With Bowers out, the frontcourt is very slim and this team will have to play very small at times. Fortunately, the guards are good enough to pull it off, but Missouri still needs some major production from Ricardo Ratliffe and Steve Moore if they hope to make a deep NCAA Tournament run. Ratliffe is the experienced option who averaged 10.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks during his junior campaign. He will have to be a consistent interior scorer and help take some of the scoring and rebounding slack left by Bowers. Moore will never put up huge numbers, but he has done all the little things to help this team win. Now he will be thrust into a much, much bigger role, but that does not mean he has to score. As long as Moore can play defense and help out on the glass, the backcourt and Ratliffe will handle the rest.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Michael Dixon, Junior, Guard, 10.2 points per game
Marcus Denmon, Senior, Guard, 16.9 points per game
Kim English, Senior, Guard, 10.0 points per game
Ricardo Ratliffe, Senior, Forward, 10.6 points per game
Steve Moore, Senior, Center, 2.0 points per game

Madness 2012 NBA Draft Rankings:
#50 Laurence Bowers
#58 Kim English
#84 Ricardo Ratliffe

Check out another story about Missouri basketball