Mizzou Basketball Looks to Reverse Their Woes
Mizzou basketball looks to reverse their woes with a strong returning class and a talented group of recruits.
The 2017 offseason for the University of Missouri men’s basketball team has fans and players excited about the direction the team is headed. The new look of the team’s roster has Mizzou poised to regain some integrity in a harsh SEC division.
The main source of this excitement is the recent signing of former California coach Cuonzo Martin and the plethora of talented recruits he has already brought in. Starting with the consensus, top 2017 prospect Michael Porter Jr., Martin is making a splash for a team that has struggled in men’s basketball in years past.
The team’s returning players, who just began summer workouts with the new players this week, have high hopes for the program’s change.
While no players return from former Mizzou coach Kim Anderson’s debut season in 2014-15, the many new faces wearing black and gold has the Tigers’ faithful pumped for a potential NCAA Tournament run. During the last two seasons, before Martin’s arrival, the Tigers had a pathetic record of 18-45. Tigers fans are eager to forget the seasons under Anderson, whose coaching and recruitment never brought fruition to Columbia. With over 150 days before the 2017-18 season begins, returning Mizzou players are glad for a chance to shed their losing ways of the past.
“It’s definitely a relief,” said senior forward Jordan Barnett —last season’s leading scorer, who transferred from Texas midway through the 2014-15 season. “We know we’re going to be good. Our biggest challenge is just getting better and doing better than what’s expected. I just can’t wait, man.”
Barnett averaged 12.2 points and 5.7 rebounds a game, while forward Kevin Puryear averaged 11.8 points and a team-high 6.0 rebounds. Junior guard Terrence Phillips, who averaged 10.4 points with a team-high 35.6 percent of three-pointers made, wrap up a strong returning class that could add nicely to the new faces.
However, fans this season won’t be paying attention to the returning talent. With new arrivals Blake Harris, C.J. Roberts, and transfers Kassius Robertson and Jeremiah Tilmon, there are plenty of new faces that could change Mizzou’s fortunes.
The abundance of talent means that Mizzou will have an increase in competition for starting players, which could mean good things for Martin. Players are up to the challenge, as well, to earn a starting spot among other great teammates.
“It isn’t fun unless you’ve really got to compete for your time,” Barnett said. “We’re all battling and we’ll see who’s all going to be on the court. It will be fine, regardless of who’s there. There’s going to be a lot of excitement. … We’ve got a lot of talent on this team, and everybody’s showing it early.”
With the player pool looking more favorable, now it’s up to the Tigers to execute. For years the Tigers have paled in comparison to old Big 12 rivals the Kansas Jayhawks, but with a change in face and division the Tigers are poised to carve out their own legacy as a NCAA basketball program.
What are your thoughts? Do you think the Tigers has what it takes to reverse their past and move forward with the future? Let us know what you think by commenting below!