Five Questions For... Missouri Tigers

Is Bowers' injury the worst thing that could have happened to Mizzou?

Welcome to Five Questions for... Missouri Tigers

Here you'll see five of the most pressing questions for the TIgers and our response to them.  Feel free to contribute your answers in the comments section.


1.    Mizzou is going from the "Fastest 40-Minutes" to more of a set offense. Can they transition to the new scheme their first season or will it take some time to get the right pieces in place?

2.    We all know about the Yahoo! report, and Frank Haith’s purported involvement. Has that blown over, or will Haith still find challenges recruiting because his name was tied to the report?

3.    For a team that was eighth in the conference in rebounding last year, could Mizzou have afforded to lose anyone less than Laurence Bowers, who will miss the season with a torn ACL?

4.    Even with Bowers on the sideline, Mizzou has a wealth of seniors on the roster. Is it ‘now or never’ for the Tigers?

5.    Marcus Denmon played in the World University Games in China this summer. Is he a sleeper for Big 12 Conference Player of the Year?


See the answers after the jump...

1.       Mizzou is going from the "Fastest 40-Minutes" to more of a set offense. Can they transition to the new scheme their first season or will it take some time to get the right pieces in place?

E. Carnes: I‘m really going to miss Mike Anderson's style of play, which was a blast to watch. I imagine - like with any new coach - there will be a period of adjustment, but I don't think it's going to be a huge issue. The frenetic, no-mercy style Mizzou is used to can be an asset in a set offense, too. Kim English and Marcus Denmon sounded pretty confident about it on media day. Mizzou has some great senior leaders, plus Denmon has already been exposed to Matt Painter, Cuonzo Martin, and Brad Stevens' style at the World University games. And the Tigers won't be alone in having to adjust their scheme for a new coach this year in the Big 12.

Nathan Kotisso: This will definitely take some time for the roster to adapt to. Had Mike Anderson stayed in Columbia, the Tigers would definitely be one of the three best teams in the Big 12 coming into the year. Their talent may be able to overcome the coaching change and new offense to place a top five finish in the conference.

Matt Paton: I think it will take time, but in some ways this team felt like it was running out of control, especially once they got down last year. Still, there's plenty of talent. The backcourt will be the most important part to make the transition.

Evan Pfaff: I think they can. I think they have the benefit of an experienced team with a bunch of talent. If this were a Texas Tech or Iowa State, I'd be more worried about the transition, but most of these guys have played together for three seasons, so they know each other and what to expect from one another.

2.       We all know about the Yahoo! report, and Frank Haith's purported involvement. Has that blown over, or will Haith still find challenges recruiting because his name was tied to the report?

EC: Well, it shouldn't be all that challenging if he keeps paying recruits $10,000. But all kidding aside, these are serious allegations that aren't going away any time soon. The NCAA investigation, which is still underway, could take years to resolve and potentially result in a show cause for Haith. Right now there's not much of a paper trail and Haith has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, but who knows what else the investigation will turn up. I can't help but think about Kelvin Sampson in 2007. Even if Haith's name is cleared by the investigation, the damage will have already been done - The Yahoo! report has dominated Mizzou's preseason media coverage and Haith's reputation has taken a serious blow. He already lost top recruits Rodney Purvis and Tyrek Coger. Right now, I bet Mizzou fans are pining for The One that Got Away, Matt Painter...

NK: Haith will run into some problems in recruiting. He's already had two decommitments from two ESPNU Super 60 prospects Ishmail Wainright and Tyrek Coger following the Yahoo! Sports report. Other coaches will use the Miami (FL) scandal to woo recruits away from Mizzou and call into question Haith's integrity from parents of prospects as well. It may not be now, but Haith and his assistants can recover on the recruiting trail in the near future.

MP: I'm not sure he'll face many recruiting challenges unless his position at the university looks questionable. Missouri definitely needs to be crossing its fingers that the NCAA finds holes in Shapiro's story.

EP: I feel it has blown over, or at least it isn't front and center like it was a month or so ago, and will seem like a distant memory if Mizzou starts winning and if the NCAA clears him... but to Nathan's point, the biggest challenges he'll face will be with other coaches bringing it up to the recruits parents.  

3.       For a team that was eighth in the conference in rebounding last year, could Mizzou have afforded to lose anyone less than Laurence Bowers, who will miss the season with a torn ACL?

EC: There's no denying that the loss of Bowers is a huge, huge blow to the Tigers. I think the only blow that was worse was losing Mike Anderson. Ricardo Ratliffe will really have to step up, while the rest of the team adjusts to a guard-heavy lineup. But Bowers seems like the kind of player who will keep being present, keep being a leader even if he's out for the season. I think that will count for a lot.

NK: The Tigers ranked 151st in the nation in rebounds per game, so rebounding's not a big part of who they are. Bowers will be missed, and most of the rebounding responsibilities will fall on fellow senior Ricardo Ratliffe. He'll definitely have to pull in a figure significantly north of 6.0 rebounds a game this season. 

MP: I'd say Ricardo Ratliffe and Marcus Denmon might have been worse. Bowers was definitely sneaky good, and a great rebounder. That said, Missouri's rebounding woes seemed to come as much from their style (i.e. taking shots before people got set up), and I expect we'll see some sort of improvement even if just a small one this season.

EP: Bowers' loss in immensely impactful. Besides leading the team in rebounds and blocks per game, Bowers' outside jumper would draw defenders away from the hoops, giving Ratliffe and others more freedom down low to grab the boards. Ratliffe will need to step up, and I think he can in his second year, but there is no accounting for someone as dynamic as Bowers suffering a season ending injury.

4.       Even with Bowers on the sideline, Mizzou has a wealth of seniors on the roster. Is it ‘now or never' for the Tigers?

EC: Maybe now or never for a Big 12 championship, depending on where Mizzou ends up next year. I'm not so sure it's now or never for a deep NCAA run, though. If Bowers had been able to play this season, I'd say this was the Tigers' shot. But Bowers plans to redshirt this season and will be back next year, along with Mike Dixon, Kadeem Green, and Phil Pressey. If Haith can keep his nose clean, Mizzou could build something good for next year.

NK: Missouri will sort of resemble the team St. John's had last year with all those seniors at important positions, except the Tigers have more talent on paper. Looking down the road, Mizzou doesn't have a lot to be ecstatic about in terms of incoming recruits, but it's still very early in the year and one or two really good ones that decide to pop for the Tigers can change their outlook. 

MP: It may be ‘now or never' for Haith. I'm not sure he needs a national championship, but he'll definitely need a respectable showing to quiet the disgruntled fanbase. Especially if Mizzou decides to leave for the SEC, a lot of people will be calling for a clean slate.

EP: Much to the delight of KU fans, Mizzou has never been in a Final Four, so I don't know if there is a ‘now or never' scenario for the Tigers. With Bowers this team has Big 12 championship and Final Four aspirations. Without him, I think that some of those expectations are quelled and the team actually gets some leeway they wouldn't have had otherwise. I will say that if they don't advance far this season then it might be some time before their name is mentioned with the tops in their league - whatever league that may be.

5.       Marcus Denmon played in the World University Games in China this summer. Is he a sleeper for Big 12 Conference Player of the Year?

EC: I think he could be. Especially if Baylor and A&M (with Perry Jones III and Khris Middleton, respectively) underperform. In fact, if Denmon's able to lead Mizzou to a great season despite Bower's injuries, conference realignment questions, and the allegations against Haith, I'd say he deserves it.

NK: Denmon is often forgotten, but he has got to be one of the better guards in the Big 12. He shot 50% from the field for the entire year. He doesn't pass the rock much (1.7 assists/game as a point guard in 2010-11), which may hurt his chances for conference player of the year, but nonetheless a strong candidate. 

MP: I'm not even sure I'd call him a sleeper. I think him, Perry Jones and Thomas Robinson are the three biggest contenders. He also has the most proven success out of the three (the other two are based much more on projections). I'm certainly really excited to see how Denmon will progress after last year's breakout season.

EP: Agree with a combination of everyone above. I feel he is fourth in POY voting coming out of the gate, behind Jones, Robinson and Middleton. Jones has so much talent around him that his numbers may suffer, Robinson can't draw Ds out of the lane like the Morris twins could and Middleton takes games off, so with consistent play Denmon could receive the honor.

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