As the Missouri Tigers prepare for their first season as members of the Southeastern Conference, they will bring along one player who has already played two seasons in the league. Junior forward Earnest Ross transferred from Auburn after leading those Tigers in rebounds as a sophomore in 2010.
When you were looking into transferring to Missouri, did you have any inclination that you might return to the SEC?
Not at all. I definitely thought I was playing in the Big 12, for sure. Now that we are in the SEC, I’m happy to be a part of it again, and I’m looking forward to playing.
As Missouri is entering the SEC, you’re the one player who has played there. Do you feel as if it gives you an edge?
Just being able to have already played in the SEC, I kind of already have an idea of what to expect as far as physicality, play and stuff like that. It does give me a little advantage. As a team collectively, I think we’re ready as a team to compete at the highest level in the SEC and compete for a national championship.
Has anybody on the team come to you with questions about the SEC, such as how to approach it?
Sometimes I get questions about what different arenas look like or what to expect in different arenas. It’s just like here. It’s always a sellout crowd when you’re playing a good team. For us, we’ll always be a pretty good team going into each game we play. It’ll be a lot of sellout crowds. (Also), the physicality of play. It’s a rough-and-tough conference, so just being able to adjust to that.
What is something about the SEC that the average fan might not know?
Playing at Kentucky is just a crazy environment. You have to be mentally ready and physically ready. Not only is the crowd going to be crazy but not a lot of calls are going to go your way, so you definitely have to be mentally ready for that.
So is Kentucky the toughest atmosphere to play in?
Definitely. There’s 25,000 people there and a sellout crowd every game. But I think we’ll be ready for them this year.
If you had to pick another tough atmosphere, what comes to mind?
Tennessee is a very nice arena. They pretty much are like us, a very good basketball school. They get a lot of good crowds in there every home game.
What’s it like to move from one group of SEC Tigers to another?
(laughs) That was something I didn’t even think about when I decided to come here. But I’m happy to be a part of Missouri, and I’m looking forward to playing in the SEC again.