It’s tough to explain the finish of the Missouri Tigers basketball team this year. A team that had so much promise but, ended with a thud. In looking at Mike Anderson’s teams in Columbia, a fan could expect a strong finish and a better showing in post-season play. His teams had done that before and some of us, like me, expected them to turn it on again in March. Anderson told me on KMOX a day before their loss in the first round of the NCAA tournament to Cincinnati that his team had a big run in them. It never materialized and maybe we should have expected that. This season, the Tigers started the year 14-1 and finished with a thud finishing 9-10 in their final 20 games. How did this happen? This was a team that at one point was ranked in the top-20 week after week.
A hard look at the Tigers will tell you that they have to be better with their inside game going into next season. Ricardo Ratliffe had his play trail off at the end of the year in both rebounding and scoring. In many ways, he was the Tigers inside presence. At the start of the year, Ratliffe lead the club in rebounding in 8 of the first 13 games. In the final 18 games, Ratliffe lead the Tigers in rebounding only 3 times. The good news was that Laurence Bowers was active at the end of the season and he is back next year. As a team this year, the Tigers were minus 56 in the rebounding department on the year.
Kim English. Simply, he has to be better in his senior year and he’s not the only one. The junior from Baltimore played the second most minutes on the team but, he finished fifth in scoring. This is a player that the Tigers are expecting to play with smart decision-making as well as a scoring touch. A great kid, that works as hard as anyone and will expect a lot of himself his senior year. Can he deliver?
Win on the road! The Tigers have to better away from Mizzou Arena. This season the Tigers had one road conference win. That was a 6 point win against Iowa State. In their defense, no matter what team you are, it’s tough to win on the road in conference play but, if you are an elite team, you find a way to win on the road.
Finally, there are many reasons to be optimistic for next year. As a matter of fact, there are nine. There are nine players that return next year that saw significant playing time this year. That experience is invaluable. The season for the Tigers is over but, there are better days ahead….I hope.
Dan McLaughlin can be heard weeknights on The Sports Hub from 9p-12a