Mizzou continues focus on defense

“I don’t think you can overemphasize defense,” redshirt junior Deuce Bello said.

Kim Anderson is very clear in his approach to playing time: play defense or don’t play at all.

“I think they have (bought into the defense-first mentality),” Anderson said of his players. “They understand that it’s important we do a good job on the defensive end.”

Wednesday, the Tigers trampled William Jewell 72-31. Mizzou held the Cardinals to just 17 points in the first half and nine field goals through all 40 minutes.

Missouri hadn’t allowed less than 40 points in a game or exhibition game since a 68-38 win at home over Tennessee State in 2012. William Jewell is a Division II team, but Anderson was still very pleased with how his team played.

“That’s not a bad team,” he said. “They’ll win games in the (Great Lakes Valley Conference), so I thought with the effort and the way we got after loose balls, we have to continue to do that. I hope we play like that every game.”

“Playing like that” consists of using aggressiveness to force mistakes from opponents. Anderson said he wants his players to not be afraid to foul at times. When Anderson played for the Tigers, he led Missouri in fouls during both his junior and senior seasons.

“Coach really implies on getting in the gaps, rebounding and boxing out and be aggressive,” sophomore point guard Wes Clark said. “(He makes sure) we’re not afraid to foul at times, but really just being aggressive and applying ourselves on defense.”

Mizzou will mainly play man-to-man defense, according to Anderson, but the coach isn’t afraid to throw in some zone. Anderson said the Tigers have been working on a zone defense in practice, mainly for the offense to gain experience play against it, but he intends to use it at some point in the season.

“We’re doing some multiple zone stuff, too,” Anderson said. “Not just one zone, we have a couple (zone strategies) and some three-quarter court stuff. We’re still slow, but we’re moving. I think our guys have done a good job of catching on.”

As a player, Anderson joked that he shot the ball every time he got it. He said the media has overemphasized his love for defense.

While Anderson thinks defense has been a bit inflated, redshirt junior Deuce Bello would have to politely disagree with his coach.

“I don’t think you can overemphasize defense,” Bello said. “We’re going to continue to keep getting better at it.”

A very upbeat Anderson walked into the locker room after his team’s win over William Jewell on Oct. 29. Any time a team limits its opponent to 31 points is a great game, according to Clark, and despite an 8-0 run at the end of the first half from William Jewell, the Tigers dominated both ends of the floor.

Anderson said he was pleased, but not yet satisfied.

“He told us, ‘that’s not the NCAA championship,’” Bello said. “So we’ve still got goals to meet.”

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