Top 68 Team Previews: #21 Missouri Tigers
Marcus Denmon is one of the best returning guards in the Big 12. (Icon SMI)
By Ryan Feldman
Friday, October 07, 2011
Last Season: 23-11 (8-8)
Key Losses: Justin Safford
Head Coach: Frank Haith
Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Michael Dixon, Jr. 6-1 Jr.
SG: Marcus Denmon 6-3 Sr.
SF: Kim English 6-6 Sr.
PF: Ricardo Ratliffe 6-8 Sr.
C: Steve Moore 6-9 Sr.
Key Reserves: Phil Pressey 5-10 So. PG, Matt Pressey 6-2 Sr. SG, Kadeem Green 6-8 Fr. PF
Frank Haith takes over the Missouri basketball program with a roster that can compete against any team in the Big 12. The Tigers will be an experienced, guard-oriented squad that will try to run and gun.
With nearly every key player returning from the 2010-11 team, everything was looking promising for the Tigers. But earlier this week, Laurence Bowers tore his ACL and will require season-ending surgery. It was a huge blow for the Tigers, who don't have much depth in the frontcourt and were relying heavily on Bowers down low.
Without Bowers, Mizzou will have to rely more on its guards. Michael Dixon, Jr., Marcus Denmon and Kim English form one of the best backcourts in college basketball for the second straight year. And Phil and Matt Pressey can provide quality depth off the bench.
Dixon, a 6-foot-1 junior, averaged 10.2 points and 3.5 assists per game last season with a nearly 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Dixon, like all of Mizzou's guards, can stroke the ball from 3-point range. He shot 38.8 percent from beyond the arc last season. Backing up Dixon and possibly challenging him for the starting point guard spot is Phil Pressey, who led the team last season with 3.9 assists per game (2.2 turnovers per game) along with 6.5 points per game and a 36.1 3-point percentage.
Denmon is Mizzou's best scorer. The 6-foot-3 senior guard led the team in scoring last season with 16.9 points per game. He shot a remarkable 44.8 percent from 3-point range while making almost two and a half long balls per game. He also shot 50 percent from the field, which is a terrific number for a scoring guard. Continuing with the impressive marks, Denmon averaged less than one turnover per game with a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. The Tigers want Denmon to have the ball in his hands as much as possible because he will be efficient and make good decisions. The more Denmon gets the ball, the better the Tigers chances to win games.
English is a very talented 6-foot-6 senior wing. He can score in a variety of ways. English, who shot 36.6 percent from 3-point range last season, can shoot the ball from the perimeter or use his size and athleticism to score around the basket. English averaged 10.0 points per game last season. He showed flashes of brilliance at times but struggled with consistency and shot a low percentage from the field (36.6). If he can improve his shot selection and become more consistently effective, English is capable of being one of the top wing players in the Big 12.
Matt Pressey, a 6-foot-2 senior and the brother of Phil, who averaged 5.7 points per game last season, will provide depth at either guard position for the Tigers.
Without Bowers, the Tigers will have to turn to Ricardo Ratliffe for their frontcourt production. The 6-foot-8 senior averaged 10.6 points and 6.0 rebounds per game last season.
Other than Ratliffe, the Tigers don't have much. Steve Moore will have to step in at center. The 6-foot-9, 267-pound senior, who averaged 2.0 points and 2.3 rebounds in 11.5 minutes per game last season, is a strong, bulky big man who can clog up the middle. But it's yet to be seen if he can stay on the court for a long period of time.
Because of their lack of the depth, the Tigers may have to turn to redshirt 6-foot-8 freshman Kadeem Green, who tore his Achilles during his senior year of high school and has been recovering ever since. If Moore and Green aren't productive, Haith will have to throw a four-guard lineup out there at times.
Missouri fans should not be discouraged by the Bowers injury. Sure, it's a tough loss and it will alter Haith's plans. But the Tigers have the guard play and experience to win a lot of games this season. Mizzou will look to get out in transition and knock down outside jumpers. And when it comes to the NCAA tournament, guard play and experience is often what leads to deep runs in March.