Dressed in their best formal wear and with smoked sirloin on the menu, the Missouri basketball team were celebrated like kings of the Big 12 Conference on Monday at Mizzou Arena. The end-of-the-year banquet — which featured 15 awards, a jazz background band and a booth where guests could pose with the Big 12 championship trophy — served as the official send-off for the winningest senior class in Missouri basketball history.
The Tigers will graduate eight seniors this June, including team centerpieces like leading scorer Marcus Denmon (second-team All-American), guard Kim English (Big 12 Tournament MVP), center Ricardo Ratliffe (second team All-Big 12), starting guard Matt Pressey and center Steve Moore.
Denmon, English, Moore and reserve guard Jarrett Sutton won a program-record 107 games in their four years on the court together.
“Iʼm going to miss all their enthusiasm,” sophomore Sharla Davenport said. “They were really fun to watch. It was always a good time coming to the games and really getting into it.”
In taking home four awards, including “Most Improved” and “Hustlinʼ Tiger,” Moore walked away with the most hardware. He narrowly edged out English, who won three. Denmon was named MVP.
The night featured speakers such as Chancellor Brady Deaton, Athletic Director Mike Alden and coach Frank Haith, but it was English who stole the show. He spoke on stage three times, cracking jokes, performing Haith impersonations and even predicting his future career path.
“Iʼve been talking to you all a lot for four years,” he said to the crowd. “So, Iʼm done talking for at least the next 10-12 years until coach Haith brings me back as an assistant.”
Off the stage English was more subdued, saying he appreciated the fan support but wished he had given them more to celebrate like a deep NCAA Tournament run.
“Iʼm not pleased with our legacy,” he said. “We didnʼt win as many championships as I wanted. People will say how great this season was but Iʼll only remember it for how it ended.”
Not everyone in attendance felt the same way.
“It was definitely a successful season,” sophomore Lindsay Clark said. “Nobody ever predicted us to be as successful as we were or go as far as we did. You were never bored watching these guys.”
Freshman Kyle Bishop said that although he was disappointed with the Tigers’ 86-84 upset loss to No. 15-seed Norfolk State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, heʼll remember the positive memories from this season more.
“That one stung,” he said. “But Iʼll always remember the way they came back to beat Kansas at home. That was crazy.”
The energy from the onset showcased fan intentions to celebrate the Tigers’ historic season.
Emcee Mike Kelly opened the night by saying to the audience, “This was a wonderful basketball season. Wouldnʼt you agree?”
And the crowd erupted in applause.