Anderson embraces resurrection task at intersquad scrimmage

Missouri men’s basketball coach Kim Anderson arose from a coffin on the court Friday night, hoping his team can follow his lead.

Coach Kim Anderson took his task of resurrecting the Missouri men’s basketball team quite literally on Friday night.

After the public address announcer called the players onto the court at the Halloween and Hoops Black and Gold scrimmage, Anderson emerged from a coffin placed at center court. With a microphone in hand, Anderson didn’t leave his actions up to the crowd’s interpretation.

“Many others have buried us,” he said. “We hope to prove them wrong.”

The Tigers aren’t just buried in preseason rankings; they are ranked dead last in the Southeastern Conference. This season, Missouri looks to defy doubters and improve on a combined 19-44 record under Anderson the previous two seasons.

That resurrection began Friday night at the Black and Gold scrimmage at Mizzou Arena. The black squad, comprised mainly of returners, won 35-22.

None of the players had any idea Anderson would surprise them like that until he emerged from the coffin.

“I had no idea that was going to happen,” sophomore Terrence Phillips said. “When I ran out, I was like, ‘What is this?’”

“This” was just the coach showing it’s going to take being uncomfortable for Missouri to change the program’s trajectory.

“Knowing his personality, I would have never guessed him doing that,” sophomore Kevin Puryear said.

It also surprised Phillips, but he, along with Puryear, realize things are changing with Missouri basketball for the better.

“I guess this is just a new team,” Phillips said. “It was a great idea.”

Whether it is a new team in terms of success is yet to be determined. The team’s makeup is different, however.

Five freshmen join the Tigers squad, and each will likely have the opportunity to contribute early. Four freshmen started on the Gold team Friday, but anyone watching didn’t have to look at the roster to know that.

“There were most definitely some nerves,” Phillips said about the freshmen.

A strong start by the Black squad combined with Gold squad jitters produced a 26-12 halftime score, with the Black team in front.

The Gold team, mainly comprised of freshmen, showed flashes, however. Reed Nikko showed he could be a presence near the basket with two blocks and a powerful dunk late in the game. Frankie Hughes added 8 points as he often energized the Gold offense.

It wasn’t always perfect, though. Hughes went 3-13 from the floor, and Nikko fouled often.

Puryear said the freshmen will need to step up right away and build off Friday’s performance if Missouri wants to win more games this season.

“They don’t get to be freshmen,” Puryear said. “They have to play like sophomores and juniors. That’s a lot for us to expect of them, but that’s what we need.”

The Tigers hope the freshman class can give life to the SEC’s worst team in 2015. It will take nothing short of a revival, but Anderson has clearly embraced this.

“It gets us really excited seeing him so invested,” Puryear said.

Edited by Tyler Kraft | tkraft@themaneater.com

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