15 December 2009
I've been meaning to throw up a hoops related post for awhile now but have been snowed under lately with paperwork here at the Mizzourah HQ. Here are some random things presented Picasso style that I've noticed so far this season:
-Kim English looks like the second coming of Clarence Gilbert. That's good and bad. He'll carry the team for stretches when he's hot and he'll also have the occasional four-for-16 performance. As good a shooter as Kimmie is I don't think he's quite at Gilbert's level. But I also think Kimmie has a higher ceiling than Clarence ever did. Gilbert was a ridiculous shooter, good ball handler, underrated defender (if my memory serves correctly) and tough as nails. Kimmie can be all those things plus he posses more athleticism and a willingness to try to get his teammates involved in the offense. And this isn't intended as a knock on Gilbert (who is one of my all-time favorite Tigers), but I'm going to guess that Kimmie's a tad bit more coachable than Clarence ever was.
-J.T. Tiller has been pretty inconsistent since coming back from that foot injury on opening night. He seems to be moving OK but it'll take some time for him to round back into Big 12 Defensive POY form.
-Marcus Denmon has probably impressed me more than any other Tiger. He's shooting with more consistency and confidence than he did last year and for some reason I continue to undervalue his toughness. I think after he exploded in the Black and Gold Game last year we all assumed he — and not Kimmie — would be the Clarence Gilbert type. But in actuality his game is much closer to J.T. Tiller's.
-Michael Dixon is a very skilled player. His mid-range jumper is money, he can handle the rock and is one of the quickest dudes on the team. But at this point he still has a lot to learn about playing good fundamental defense. His man is getting by him far too frequently and that's drawing help from another defender which obviously causes a breakdown. He'll get there. He's just not there yet. For this season, we can expect him to be a sparkplug who will be especially useful when teams slow the pace of the game and try to bog Mizzou down with zone defenses.
-After the first couple games I was really excited about the apparent improvement Steve Moore had made in the offseason. But I haven't seen much (or anything) from him since. He's a good rebounder and he's really big so he should be able to block some shots. But when he's on the floor the Tigers are basically playing four-on-five on offense. He's still got a ways to go before he starts getting more than 10-15 minutes per game.
-Ditto for Miguel Paul. But at least with Paul the skills that he does have (speedy, can lead the fastbreak, good passer) will be maximized because of this system. Bill over at Rock M has mentioned how effective Miguel is when Mike Anderson brings him in at the end of the first half — paired with Dixon — and basically has him run a winded opponent off the floor. I'm still not sure MP3 will ever average more than 15 minutes per game but he could eventually be an extremely valuable 10-15 minutes per game guy. If that makes sense.
-Laurence Bowers is going to be a great player. But this season it will likely be frustrating watching him because he's not quite there yet. He's the most talented player on this roster but he lacks an aggressiveness that he needs to make him great. The good news with Bowers is that even though he'll probably leave us wanting a little more this year, he's still going to probably end up with a really solid season. I'm seeing something around 12 ppg, six rpg, two apg, 1.5 blocks and 1.5 steals. That's pretty solid.
You also have to point out with Bowers that even though he won't reach his ceiling this year it won't be because he's some sort of head case or chronic underachiever. It's just a natural maturation process most players go through.
-Keith Ramsey can be dominant on the boards, very good defensively and serviceable on offense when he doesn't take shots from further than eight feet. But God help me if he launches another one of those three-pointers.
-The verdict is still out on Tyler Stone and John Underwood. Haven't seen near enough of them to make an sort of judgement on their games or their potential.
-All in all this team is right about where I expected them to be. OK, I didn't expect losses to Richmond or Oral Roberts but I think come March this is a bubble team that will have somewhere in the neighborhood of 19-22 wins. You had to expect some bumps along the way. Braggin' Rights is suddenly an enormous game and when that could really turn the season around for the Tigers. The great thing about this team is that it's pretty obvious that things will get better in the near future. Not that the team won't miss guys like Tiller, Ramsey and Zaire but with a top 10-15 recruiting class coming in next year the depth on this team is going to increase pretty dramatically in the next 12 months. Much like the football team this year, this basketball season is really more about holding steady than anything else. And that doesn't mean we can't still make a nice run this year.
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