The next shot: Denmon breaks out in crucial moment
The senior forward broke out of his recent slump last week in earning Big 12 Player of the Week honors.
Feb. 10, 2012
By now, the shot has become just another shot, a ghost among the other 163 three-pointers Missouri senior guard Marcus Denmon has attempted this season.
Denmon has to think back on it. He has to reach back in that short memory of his, which has allowed him to be unfazed by a five-game span of going 5-for-31 from behind the perimeter.
He has since snapped that string, and it started with a shot that relied on as much faith as it did athletic ability. Those three points were the first of his team’s match with Kansas on Feb. 4 in Columbia, the first try he’d made since 17:13 was on the first-half clock against Texas Tech. on Jan. 28.
It was the beginning of his 29-point onslaught against the archrival. The quencher to his shooting dry spell made the 15,000-plus in attendance shriek for how remarkable it was.
Denmon couldn’t recall it, as if it happened long, long ago. He stood quiet for eight seconds.
“Ooooh,” he finally let out. “That one.”
He launched it as the shot clock expired. He had to hoist even though a Jayhawk was all over him and he was closer to half court than the top of the key.
“Yeah, that was a tough shot,” Denmon said. “I wasn’t happy with that shot. I mean, I was happy that I made it, but I wasn’t happy that was the shot we got so early in the game.”
Leading up to it, he had a normal week of preparation. Denmon continued to put up shots before practice. As always, he put in work with the “overtime crew,” a tag given to teammates who play when practice ends.
“We all felt like Marcus was going to come out of it,” said coach Frank Haith, who has compared Denmon to a warrior for his mental toughness. “He puts in that work, it’s going to happen.”
Even during his shooting struggles, Denmon had been playing the way he played all along. He charged to the basket when there was an opening, often earning a spot at the free-throw line, going 32-of-37 during the span of five games before Kansas. He came up with rebounds, averaging 5.4 in the same span. When opportunities came, when he was sure of the situation, he shot.
“The shots I missed, all makeable shots,” Denmon said after his game with Texas Tech., when he managed to score 19 points despite only making five of 21 total shots while playing with a cold. “Coach has faith in me as well as my teammates. They tell me continue to take good shots … Some nights it doesn’t go (your) way.”
Senior guard Kim English said that he never had any concern for his teammate.
“He was just missing shots that he usually makes,” he said. “They were good shots. He was fine. He was always fine.”
Denmon was named Big 12 Conference Player of the Week after Kansas and his 25-point effort against Oklahoma on Monday night in Norman, Okla.
He’ll get his second bout with Baylor on Saturday, after shooting .143 from long-range against the Bears the last time he met them.
“Good shooters don’t worry about missed shots,” Denmon said. “They’re concerned with good shots.”