Missouri men’s basketball struggles stem from lack of experience on court

While Missouri may be seen like a team of the future, the present is becoming increasingly painful.
Missouri Tiger forward Kevin Puryear attempts to re-set a missed shot during the basketball game against Mississippi State on Jan 30 in Mizzou Arena.

The state of the Missouri men’s basketball team has become all too familiar for the Tigers’ fans. Unfortunately for the Tiger faithful, it also appears that the current state is here to stay for the time being.

Despite coach Kim Anderson’s expectations, the Tigers (8-13, 1-7 SEC) are on a losing streak of more than three games for the fifth time in his tenure. Anderson, who came to Mizzou with a 275-95 career coaching record, saw his team drop their sixth straight game last Saturday against Mississippi State, 76-62.

“I’m not really used to this,” Anderson said. “I want these guys to have some success and I can’t go out and play. So yeah you get frustrated.”

Anderson’s squad, which boasts 11 underclassmen, has seen little success this season and is currently sitting dead last in the Southeastern Conference.

“Some of the freshmen have kind of hit the wall,” Anderson said. “Unfortunately everyone hit the wall at one time.”

The youthfulness has been apparent off the court as well as on it. Sophomore guard Tramaine Isabell has not competed in Mizzou’s last three games due to poor practice attitude, according to the Columbia Missourian.

“My responsibility is to help (Tramaine) grow as a person,” Anderson said. “I know he’ll come back. The question is when and that decision will be made by me.”

Before his removal from the lineup, Isabell had been steadily gaining playing time. He reached his peak against Georgia on Jan. 20, where he played 24 minutes and accumulated nine points, two rebounds and three assists.

Since Isabell’s removal from the lineup, the Tigers are experiencing a lack of depth at the point guard position. Although this has given freshman guard Terrence Phillips more playing time, it has also left Anderson without a valuable scoring option when Phillips is failing to produce.

And while Phillips has been a spark for Missouri at times, it often appears as though the speed catches up with the freshman early on in games. In the first halves of Missouri’s last three games, Phillips has only scored 11 points while turning the ball over six times.

Phillips is not the only youngster who has succumbed to frequent cold starts in recent weeks. The entire roster has come out sluggish in their current losing streak, finding themselves behind in five out of the six games heading into halftime.

“We just don’t show up every night,” sophomore guard Namon Wright said. “The good teams in this league show up every night at home and that’s what we have to do.”

For Anderson, his players’ struggles start in their minds. More specifically, his players need to have confidence in themselves heading into games.

“It’s been a tough go,” Anderson said. “Our job as coaches is to get some confidence back in these guys.”

Anderson knows it will be a process to help his players mature on and off the court. It is one that he is willing to take on for as long as he is the coach of Missouri.

“Yeah, every day I see light at the end of the tunnel,” Anderson said. “I’m going to coach these guys as hard as I can and keep encouraging them and try to get them to relax.”

Edited by Alec Lewis | alewis@themaneater.com

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