Ryan Rosburg scored 30 points total last season.
Tuesday night, the sophomore forward more than halved that mark in one game alone, scoring 16 points and hauling in eight rebounds in Missouri’s annual Black and Gold scrimmage.
“I felt much more comfortable, relaxed. Just having a year under my belt just gives you a lot of confidence,” he said. “Last year, I would say, was a humbling experience.”
Though Rosburg’s Black squad fell 63-61, the once ambling Rosburg finally found his niche on the Tigers’ block.
Rosburg admits jitters hindered his play at the outset of his freshman year and shaky performances early in the year left him sequestered on coach Frank Haith’s bench as the season wore on.
But 12 seconds into Missouri’s 2013 tipoff, he stripped senior guard Jabari Brown on a drive to the basket and two minutes in he had his first points, splitting a pair of free throws, then wrestling the rebound free and throwing down a dunk.
Those jitters, he says, are gone.
“I feel like I’ve been through it all and tonight was great just to get back out there,” Rosburg said.
Missouri returns three forwards from last season and only two of them logged significant minutes. Senior Tony Criswell subbed in behind Alex Oriakhi and Laurence Bowers and Rosburg ate up leftover minutes. Junior Danny Feldman came in after Missouri wins were well in hand.
Prized newcomers Keanau Post and Johnathan Williams III figured to share time with Criswell, but Rosburg made a strong case for himself in front of 2,099 fans at Mizzou Arena and Haith watching courtside.
“He understands how we want to play,” Haith said. “He’s got great savvy on the court, which gives him a chance to be a productive player for us.”
That potential developed over a busy offseason for Rosburg when 5 a.m. shooting sessions were routine just like weight lifting on the Tigers’ off days.
“He has worked his tail off,” Haith said. “He has given himself the chance to be a really good player because of how hard he’s worked in the offseason.”
Rosburg’s 2012 discomfort on the court prompted enough criticism from the basketball community that Rosburg, himself took note. Though he says he tries to not let disparaging comments influence him, they are a motivator to improve.
“Yeah,” he said, “I hear people say that. It is motivating. All the stuff that you hear and see online, you think about it when you go work out at midnight. You think about it when you get up at 5 a.m. to go shoot. I think it only builds you up and adds to the fire.”