I have been watching Missouri basketball my whole life and I can honestly say I have not been this impressed with a team since Norm was the coach. This team has experience, is talented and has an unbelievable chemistry on the court.
The thing I have enjoyed the most this season is to watch the defense this team has been playing. I never really cared for the 40 minutes of hell because over the long term it could not be successful but the way we are playing defense is the exact strategy it is going to take for this team to win the big 12 and make a run in the NCAA tournament. So far this team is averaging over 10 steals a game by just playing solid half-court defense. The thing that sets this team apart is that they play pressure half-court defense for 35 seconds every possession of the game which is a credit to the coaching staff. You do not see this team give up easy baskets like past teams. Another thing I have seen out of this team is the guard's ability to rebound even against teams that are bigger than they are. They are aggressive on the glass and seem to really take pride in rebounding even though they are a smaller team.
As for their offense, if you have watched any of their games you understand how talented they are. It is obvious they can shoot considering they are shooting 43% as a team from 3pt range and 52% overall. The reason I think this team is different from others in recent years is their unselfish attitude. They will pass up open shots to get better open shots and no one has been doing that better than English and Flip Pressey. Their ability to share the ball and make the extra pass is why they will continue to be successful the rest of the year. They have 5 guys averaging double figures in points and Matt Pressey
could be there by the end of the year.
The x-factors so far this year are clearly Kim English
and Marcus Denmon
. Both of these guys are averaging over 18 points per game. Kim English is shooting over 60% from 3 and over 60% overall. That to me sticks out more than anything as far as how hard he has worked in the offseason. He is coming off a down year and so far looks like a completely different player. His shooting form looks much better than last year and he is not trying to force his way to the bucket as he did last year. It seemed very clear he was trying too hard to make plays happen last year, whereas this year he is letting the game come to him. Marcus Denmon is averaging 18.5 PPG, 5.37 RPG, and 1.8 APG. Him and Kim English look like 1st team all big 12 players so far this season.
Other x-factors, they are only turning the ball over an average of 9 times a game. Again you have to credit the coaching staffs here, who is also another X-factor so far this year. The team seems very prepared and disciplined every game no matter who the opponent is. This coaching staff has done a great job bringing this team together after Mike Anderson left and I am very excited where this team could go.
Questions for the future.
Can this team win on the road consistent enough to win the conference?
How will they play against the bigs of Baylor and Kansas?
Will their speed and quickness continue to cancel out their lack of size?
How will their lack of depth affect them by the end of the year?