The Rebirth of Mizzou Basketball
While it can certainly be a beautiful game at its best, when the execution is just right, most of the time modern basketball consists of a hulking giant who would be under investigation for massive steroid use in any other sport, dribbling the ball down the court, until he reaches a point about two or three feet outside the three point arc. At that point, he takes one final dribble, then runs about five steps while cradling the ball in his arms, then leaps up into the air, banging into the nearest player while dunking the basketball. Depending on which player is more popular, either the guy doing the dunking or the guy he ran into will likely be called for a foul. If the two players are equally well liked, the foul is determined by a coin flip.
And that, my friends, is my opinion of basketball.
All the same, I have to admit that I'm starting to get a little excited by what the Missouri Tigers are doing this season. After a pretty serious beatdown of Kansas State Wednesdasy night, the Tigers now find themselves with a record of 24-4 overall, and an 11-2 mark in the Big 12.
Suffice it to say, it appears now that Mike Anderson was the right guy to turn the Mizzou program around. When he was hired to try and revive the basketball program in Columbia from its Quinn Snyder-induced stupor, I admit I wasn't a fan of the move. I didn't think Anderson was the guy. I said at the time that if Mizzou wanted to be a big stage competitor, they needed to step up and bring in a big stage coach.
Shows what I know, huh?
Apparently, I had failed to learn the lesson of Mizzou's previous coaching hire, that of Gary Pinkel. He was brought in to try and rebuild the Missouri football program when its fortunes were as low as they had ever been. Pinkel wasn't all that heralded at the time, though he was well respected amongst those familiar with the Mountain West conference.
Now, after eight seasons at the helm of the Tigers, Pinkel's team has won back-to-back Big 12 North titles (now, if they could only figure out some way to beat fucking Oklahoma), and become fixtures in the national football picture. Missouri didn't hire the hot guy; they hired the right guy.
It appears they did the same with Anderson. He's only been at Mizzou for three years, and already the results are becoming impossible to ignore. The Tigers will make the NCAA tournament this year for the first time since 2003, and find themselves ranked eighth right now in the ESPN Coaches' poll. The Anderson style of play, which consists of constant, full-court pressure on defense and a sprinting, uptempo offense, is becoming known throughout college basketball as an extraordinarily dangerous combination.
The only two teams ahead of Missouri in the Big 12 are perennial powerhouses Kansas and Oklahoma (again with fucking Oklahoma!), and the Tigers will get a shot at both of those teams before the season is out. In short, just where the Tigers finish up at the end of the season is all up to them.
So now, I promise I've learned my lesson. Mike Alden, the Athletic Director at Mizzou, apparently does know what he's doing when it comes to hiring coaches. And, to be honest, he also seems to know what he's doing when it comes to getting the attention of media types who don't even like basketball, such as myself.
Okay, Mizzou. You've got my attention. Now let's see what you do with it.