This season has been a crazy ride for the Mizzou basketball team. Actually it has been an up and down two two years. The Tigers had extreme upside entering the 2011 season with multiple juniors on the team and the rising start freshman Phil Pressey. But right out of the gates Mizzou was unable to secure the acquisition on of the top recruits in the nation…Tony Mitchell. Tony is a type of player that can totally change a team and could have gave Mizzou real depth. After committing to Mizzou Tony was unable to graduate high school in time and missed his opportunity to play here. Then Mizzou underachieved all season long, and especially in the NCAA tournament losing their first game 78-63 to Cincinnati.
After the conclusion of the season Missouri’s head coach Anderson decided to leave Missouri to go coach at his alma mater Arkansas. This move sent the program into a panic trying to sift through candidates for the new coaching job. On a Saturday evening it was announced that the next Tigers’ basketball coach would be Frank Haith…this was followed by a “who?” from much of the Missouri fan base. After not landing the perceived first choices for the position such as Matt Painter at Purdue, many fans and students thought the school had to settle on Haith.
Frank Haith came into a job where he had 6 seniors that could play extremely well; Marcos Denmon, Michael Dixon, Kim English, Ricardo Ratliffe, Steve Moore, and Lawrence Bowers. There is no doubt that this team could make a run in the big-12 especially if the sophomore Phil Pressey matured at the point guard spot. Then seemingly out of no where Laurence Bowers injured his knee sidelining him for the upcoming season. This was a huge loss because Bowers brought experience, depth at the post, and had just come off one of his best statistical seasons. This was just another reminder that this season was going to be an uphill battle.
Coach Haith got the Tigers believing him early on as they went on to be #2 in the nation at one point. Missouri was also doing this with an untraditional 4 guard line-up and only having a 3 person bench to go to. But as the season came to a close Missouri had beaten Kansas once, and Baylor twice both were in the top 10. This led to a 30-4 record and a Big 12 Tournament Championship to cap off the amazing year. So against all odd the Tigers have braved the challenges with their heads held high and given opponents their best shots. Most of all this team belives in the coach and his system, and in one another.
Once again Missouri was snubbed by not being given the number one seed, making Mizzou the first team with 30+ wins from a major conference to to get a #1 seed. This is just the continuing trend for the Missouri Tigers and their season so on Friday they get to start a new chapter in their story in the NCAA Tournament. Norfolk State beware you are facing a determined Missouri team with lots to prove, as the team has been saying all year #FEWDM (For Every One Who Doubted Me).