Three years doesn’t seem long ago at all, senior guard Marcus Denmon said.
“It’s our last season,” Denmon said of seniors in the team’s starting rotation. “I remember us coming in as freshmen and some of the older guys telling us it’s gonna go by fast. And they hit it right on the nail. It’s really flown by and now that it’s our last chance to go out and play at this level and lead our team, it’s really that much more important.”
Denmon is entering his final season at Missouri with high expectations after being named to the Preseason all-Big 12 Team. So far, he has made his final year of collegiate basketball worthwhile. He played as one of 12 members on the World University USA Team during the summer. He was the leading force behind his team’s 4-0 start through three exhibition games and the season opener against Southeast Missouri State University last Friday night, in which he scored 20 points.
Guard Kim English has raised the stakes in his final year with Denmon as well. The two have been together since they were recruited out of high school.
“I’ve been here with Marcus for four years,” English said. “We’re at the point where I can tell him he needs to step it up and he can tell me I need to step it up. That’s the kind of team you need when you want to win championships.”
English said the thought of a final championship run has given the senior group a greater sense of urgency.
“It’s a sense that we’re all embracing,” he said. “We understand that teams are remembered by championships and that’s what we’ve worked for these past three seasons. This is our last chance to go get it.”
Since Laurence Bowers tore his ACL in the first week of practice, he has been wearing dress clothes on the sidelines while watching his fellow senior teammates embark on their final season together. Still, Bowers can be found pacing with a limp through his team’s warm-ups before tip-off. He’ll exchange high-fives with them, give pats on the back and raise his fist with them before they all break a huddle.
Bowers will return under scholarship next season. Nonetheless, his teammates said they were sad to know he would not be playing with them.
“When I found out what happened to Laurence, I literally started crying for him,” senior center Steve Moore said.
With Bowers sidelined, Moore will be expected to make a bigger impact on the team after averaging 11 minutes a game his junior season.
Having worked out with team trainers during the summer, Moore shed more than 20 pounds while preparing to produce more minutes on the floor.
“I mean, why not?” he said. “I’m a senior. It’s my last go around. I don’t know what’s going to happen to me after college. I don’t know if I’m gonna play basketball after college. So I figure you got to give it everything you've got now. You think about it a lot. It’s in your head every day, all day. About how you're a senior and how you want to make the best out of everything.”