Mizzou Basketball Preview

By Steve Goldberg

As the calendar turns to November here at the Universityof Missouri, the upcoming basketball season provides a respite from all the football and conference realignment news.

Everyone has high hopes for this year’s team after a disappointing ending to last season. New head coach Frank Haith will be the focal point of the media early in the season to see how the team adjusts to the change in coaching.

Haith will have help because the team is stacked with seven seniors and tons of experience. However, these seniors will be transitioning from the old “Fastest 40 Minutes” style of play to a more balanced, half-court offense. Coaching, shooting, and balance will be the keys to success for this Missouri team.

Guard play should not be a problem as the Tigers are loaded with talent at the position. Mizzou’s lineup will feature a very talented and experienced rotation of guards, offensively and defensively; Marcus Denmon, Kim English, Michael Dixon, Matt Pressey, and his younger brother Phil Pressey. This group will be the key to Mizzou’s success.

Forward Ricardo Ratliffe will be playing the center position due to an offseason ACL injury to senior Laurence Bowers, but he is only 6’8″, which is rather small compared to many of the teams Mizzou will be playing. Ratliffe, as well as backups Kadeem Green and Steve Moore, will need to step up their play in the low post on both offense and defense. Having an effective post game will help take the load off the shooters.

Mizzou is ranked No. 25 in the USA Today Coaches Poll, and they will open up regular season play Friday night against Southeast Missouri State. The Tigers non-conference schedule features matchups against Notre Dame in Kansas City, Villanova in New York, and a road game against Old Dominion.

With the Big 12 dropping to 10 teams this season, Mizzou will play every team in the conference twice. Baylor, Kansas, and Texas A&M also begin the season ranked in the Top 25, so the conference is packed with tough competition.

With the season less than a week away, the players and fans are looking forward to a memorable farewell to the Big 12. Dreams of the Final Four inNew Orleans are not so far out of reach with the talent this team has. So forget about all the conference realignment drama for the moment and just get ready for an exciting season of college basketball.

Steve Goldberg is a freshman sports journalist at the University of Missouri. You can follow him on Twitter @SG_Mizzou15 or find him on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bostonfan93.

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