After his team prevailed in the annual men’s basketball Black & Gold scrimmage Friday night, senior Kim English took a stat sheet from a reporter’s hand and sighed when he looked at one category.
English scanned over the column that showed his game-leading 27 points in the game.
“Four turnovers,” he said, grumbling.
It was English’s fourth Black & Gold scrimmage of his career and he had just played his best one. But entering a season in which he looks to bounce back from an underwhelming junior year, English has even higher personal expectations.
Perhaps the attitude not only comes from seeking redemption, but also from the new role he has on the team.
The absence of senior forward Laurence Bowers, who is out for the season with the torn ACL in his left knee, has forced first-year coach Frank Haith to reevaluate his personal in just the first week of practice.
The resolution: start the 6-foot, 6-inch English as a power forward rather than a guard.
“When you look at the position Kimmie’s now playing, he’s going to have chances to get loose because he’s playing that four spot,” Haith said. “Most (of his defenders) won’t play him out on the perimeter like that, which is a tremendous advantage on one end.”
The advantage took form at the scrimmage. English was able to riddle his defender and scored in a variety of ways. He scored whether he was freelancing, carving up the lane, swooping by rebounders or firing from afar. He was 5-of-8 from three-point territory.
“Having the floor spread like that hopefully will play to my advantage,” English said.
Both English and Haith noted that the offense’s change of scenery could also play to the advantage of senior forward Ricardo Ratliffe, a teammate of English’s in the scrimmage who appeared comfortable commanding the post for himself while scoring 20 points.
If the scrimmage featured an MVP award, it would have gone to English. But the senior just couldn’t ignore the stats sheet.
“I have to do a better job of boxing out and getting more than five or six offensive rebounds,” he said.
The Gold squad corralled 16 offensive rebounds, compared to English and the Black team’s five.
“We (have) to rebound the ball,” Haith said. “That’s where we got to have our improvement if we play that way offensively with Kimmie at the four.”
Senior guard Marcus Denmon, a Preseason All-Big 12 selection, played alongside English in a black jersey. He added 16 points and five assist and said he was confident in operating the new-look offense.
“Kimmie played great,” Denmon said. “We knew that moving him to that spot would really give us that advantage on the offensive end. I’ve been playing with him for a while now. There’s no four-man that can guard Kimmie in this league. I mean, I say that humbly, but I really feel that way.”
Guarding English in practice is junior Earnest Ross, a bulky 6-foot 5-inch, 222-pound transfer from Auburn. English said that having “a guy like an NFL linebacker” defend him in practice has been beneficial.
Perhaps fans at Mizzou Arena were introduced best to the transformed English when he rose above to swat a floater from Ross. It was emphatic and as the student section let out its cheers, English turned and gave a salute.
“I’m just having fun, man,” he said after the game. “I’m just having fun. That’s about it.”