Torren Jones and Keanau Post are two names Tigers fan have known all year but haven’t had a lot of reasons to cheer for, given the inconsistent and sometimes nonexistent production.
But Saturday’s 75-70 win over Tennessee gave fans reasons to hope for the two reserves both for the present and future.
Jones, a freshman from Arizona, had a breakout game scoring eight points and pulling down five rebounds. Post, a junior college transfer, finished with four points and three rebounds in 15 minutes.
“We got great production out of all of our post guys,” coach Frank Haith said after the game. “Every single one of those guys gave us something positive, and we’re going to need more of that as we continue to move forward.”
Going into the season, one of the biggest questions marks for Haith’s squad was how it would replace the void left in the paint from Alex Oriakhi, who had a stellar senior season after transferring from Connecticut and is now playing in the NBA D-League. He showed up at Mizzou Arena to a standing ovation Saturday.
The answer was assumed to be Post, who came to the Tigers as one of the highest rated junior college players in the country after receiving offers from programs like Georgetown, Illinois and Pittsburgh.
Post started the season coming off the bench. His play didn’t seem to match the hype surrounding him. The former volleyball player usually picked up a few early fouls or committed some turnovers before being subbed back out.
Jones on the other hand, started his freshman campaign off drawing comparisons from his coach to New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, who Haith coached during his days at Miami.
“I like Torren,” Oriakhi said. “You could tell he played with a lot of energy, and he’s only a freshman, so you know he’s going to be good.”
Haith recently hinted that the Tigers needed more production out of their frontcourt if the Tigers were to make it to the NCAA tournament for the sixth consecutive season. Jones thought the effort was needed to make the frontcourt’s presence on the team known.
“It was very needed because we see the guards take over the game so much, and we feel like we’re not as important in the game,” Jones said. “But today we felt like we were a big part of this.”
Prior to Saturday, both newcomers had shown flashes of their potential. Post had some moments early in the season that showed he could be an enforcer on the boards. Jones had four points and 11 rebounds in the Tigers road win at Auburn on Jan. 11.
“I think Torren has had some moments, but Keanau has really struggled in the games,” Haith said. “But he has really good skill and has some positive things going for him like today that I think he could build on.”
The Tigers will need more production out of their frontcourt if they want to make the Big Dance as they have little room for error. Oriakhi, who was in town because of the NBA All-Star break, believes that if the frontcourt is to produce, it can’t be on an individual level.
“I think if they can’t get a post player that can do the little things, then it’s going to be a collective effort,” Oriakhi said. “That’s something they’re going to have to focus on.”