View Full Version : MU Posnanski : This Missouri team is hard to hate

03-28-2009, 01:05 AM
This Missouri team is hard to hate

GLENDALE, Ariz. | You probably know that Bill James, baseball writer extraordinaire, is an intense Kansas basketball fan. It is one of the obsessions of his life. He grew up in Kansas, went to school at Kansas, lives in Kansas, and he will refer to the Jayhawks as “we.” And as a Kansas fan, he takes very seriously all of his Jayhawk responsibilities.

“I hate Missouri basketball with a bottomless passion,” he says.

So, OK, Kansas fan hates Missouri? Great. News flash. What’s the point?

Only this: “I love this Missouri team,” Bill James says.

He does not want to like Missouri. He can’t help himself. And he is not alone. ESPN baseball writer Rob Neyer has been rooting against the Tigers ever since he arrived on the Kansas campus at the same time as Danny Manning. If you have read Rob’s work, you probably know that he does not get overly sentimental.

“I’m pulling for the Tigers,” he says.

And more. E-mails rush in from Kansas fans who, against every fiber of their being, find themselves oddly drawn to this Missouri Tigers team.

“I want to hate them,” a lifelong Jayhawks fan named John writes in. “I’m supposed to hate them. And I can’t hate them.”

This is not to suggest that all Kansas fans have gone soft on Missouri. I’m quite certain that at this very moment numerous Kansas fans are composing e-mails hammering home the point that they still despise Missouri with every hate fiber in their body.

No. The point is that this Tigers team is so lovable that even some Kansas fans find themselves swaying to the music.

Really, what’s not to love? The Tigers were picked to finish seventh in the Big 12. They use 11 or 12 guys every game. They play an all-out, full-court press defense. They led the entire nation in assists. The Tigers’ best player is the coach’s nephew. Their three-point shooter is a lifelong Missouri fan who was ready to walk on. Their most gifted player came to Missouri because his mother made him. Their gutsy point guard was recruited about as heavily as a triple jumper as basketball player. Their heart and soul was briefly homeless after transferring to Missouri.

“We’re the most unselfish team in America,” forward Leo Lyons says. He’s the gifted one who wanted to go to Kentucky but went to Missouri for his mother. And while it’s hard to measure unselfishness, there’s no question that this Missouri team radiates with it. In the Tigers’ last five games, which includes their Big 12 tournament championship run and their NCAA Tournament run, they have had four different leading scorers.

“We are the ultimate team,” Missouri coach Mike Anderson says and says and says.

He really wants to get this point across. Ultimate team. And there’s a good reason he keeps saying it: This Tigers team is the kind every coach dreams about. They really don’t seem to care about their statistics. They really don’t seem to care about their minutes either. Zaire Taylor — he’s the heart-and-soul player who took a chance and transferred from Delaware and found himself without a place to live — talks happily about how he doesn’t mind getting tired because he loves watching backup Miguel Paul play.

“I know Miguel Paul is going to come in and do the same thing or even raise it up another notch,” Taylor says. “So I don’t have to worry about if I get tired.”

This all reflects on the brilliant job Mike Anderson has done this year. Anderson is an outstanding basketball coach. But even more than that, he’s a leader. He grew up in a small house in Birmingham with five brothers, and he remembers that three or four of them would often sleep in the same bed.

A young man learns how to compete in that world “sometimes competition just for food,” he says and Anderson’s great gift is that he can instill his own spirit into his players. He took over a mess of a Missouri program three years ago, and as he says, “We went through the storms.”

And now they are here, playing great, playing together, one victory away from Missouri’s first-ever Final Four.

“They are seeing through my eyes,” is how Anderson explains it.

Yes, they are hard to dislike. Take senior DeMarre Carroll. He already graduated. He was selected to the Big 12 All-Academic Team. He transferred to Missouri from Vanderbilt to help Anderson, his uncle, turn around a dying program. And shortly after he made it to campus, he went to a bar to try and break up a fight, and he got shot.

“I was wondering, ‘Whoa, how did I end up here?’” he asks.

Only he stayed, and he improved — you can see Carroll’s life experiences in the way he plays. He is a great passer. He’s remarkably fast for a 6-foot-8 forward, and so he often leads the break. He’s the free safety on defense; Carroll is the one who runs all over the court trying to create havoc, knock away passes, dive for loose balls, fight for rebounds and all the other things that have sparked his nickname “Junkyard Dog.”

But the most remarkable part of his game is his feathery touch. Watch his shots tonight against Connecticut, and count how many bounce around the rim and then fall gently into the basket.

Take senior Matt Lawrence. He grew up in St. Louis; his mother and father had both gone to Missouri. He got precisely zero major Division I offers, so he went to walk on at Missouri. A day before school started, he got a scholarship because Missouri coach Quin Snyder had one to spare. One year later, Anderson took over and people told Lawrence to get out, he didn’t fit Anderson’s 40-minutes of heck philosophy, he wasn’t athletic enough, he wasn’t strong enough, he wasn’t tough enough.

He did not transfer. And Lawrence has probably been as important during this tournament run as anyone on the Tigers team. He badly missed shots in the tournament opener against Cornell, and he could have gone into a shell. But he scored 16 points against Marquette in that wild game. And he played a huge role in Missouri’s upset of Memphis on Thursday. He scored 13, grabbed three tough rebounds, got an assist, got a steal.

“I’m just so proud of what Matt has become,” Anderson says.

Take J.T. Tiller. He was not a big high school star. He was not even first-team all-state in Georgia. He signed up to play at UAB for Anderson, and then he came along to Missouri, and there was a feeling that he was more track star than basketball star. He was the promising triple-jumper. But Anderson says he saw something in Tiller’s eyes. Anderson recruits the eyes.

“I could see that this was a tough young man,” Anderson says.

And Tiller has gotten better and better and better. Thursday against Memphis, he was the most irrepressible player on the court. He drove into the heart of the Memphis defense over and over and over again. And his line told a gritty story: a career-high 23 points, four rebounds, three assists, three steals, zero turnovers, 35 rugged minutes.

A reporter asked Tiller on Friday whether he could drive that hard to the basket today against Connecticut considering that the Huskies have the single most dominating defensive force in college basketball: 7-foot-3 Hasheem Thabeet.

And Tiller, a thoughtful young man, said: “I don’t know if driving is going to be any harder. It is just the layups that might be a little tougher.”

Yes, there is so much to like about this team. Today’s game against Connecticut will be a tough one. The Huskies are not only a No. 1 seed, but many believe they are the best team in the country. They pound you defensively, they move the ball around offensively, and Thabeet is a game-changer in much the same way that Patrick Ewing was at Georgetown years ago.

But you get the feeling many people — even unexpected people — will be rooting hard for Missouri. Let’s face it: There haven’t been many teams like this one. The Tigers are underdogs. They are not McDonald’s All-Americans. They are not future NBA lottery picks. They are led by seniors, and they play their guts out, and they had no idea they could make it this far. And here they are.

“I enjoyed it when Missouri was coached by Quin Snyder because Quin was so easy to hate,” Bill James says. “But this is a fun team. It’s a really good team that you have to respect.”


03-28-2009, 01:11 AM
Apparently, what we can take away from this article is that inside every beaker is a Tiger, trying to get out. :)

03-28-2009, 01:15 AM
I (obviously) love this team...

They've just been flat out amazing.

It all starts with Mike Anderson. They're a reflection of him. Calm and cool under pressure.

03-28-2009, 01:33 AM
Apparently, what we can take away from this article is that inside every beaker is a Tiger, trying to get out. :)I imagine it's hard to "get it" if you hate basketball. But this Mizzou team is a LOT different than most teams.

Ultra Peanut
03-28-2009, 03:00 AM
I must have Stockholm Syndrome, or something, because I'm going to be rooting for Mizzou in the Elite Eight (and beyond) and next season.

03-28-2009, 08:07 AM
Apparently, what we can take away from this article is that inside every beaker is a Tiger, trying to get out. :)


03-28-2009, 08:22 AM
I love this team, the work ethic, everything

03-28-2009, 08:29 AM
Yea Jo Po is right. Can't stand the Tiggers...BUT I sure as heck am cheering for THIS Missouri team. Love of basketball is bigger than my hatred of all things in Columbia. Great coach. Good team. Best of all...F U N to watch. Would love to see Sooners and Tigers make it to final four.

Life Long Jayhawk Fan (and don't give me any crap about a REAL KU fan would never cheer for the Tigers)

03-28-2009, 09:05 AM
Apparently, what we can take away from this article is that inside every beaker is a Tiger, trying to get out. :)

Keep dreaming there little buddy.... I would rather die in a firey pit of ass then root for your team!:D

03-28-2009, 09:34 AM
Is that article about luv?

03-28-2009, 09:36 AM
Is that article about luv?


Skip Towne
03-28-2009, 09:37 AM
I don't have any trouble hating them. I've been doing it for 50 years.

03-28-2009, 09:41 AM
Apparently, what we can take away from this article is that inside every beaker is a Tiger, trying to get out. :)

Now? LOL

Beakers wishing they was MU!

Yesterday was Nice job! We meet you!

Today is fuck you?

Cause we are better but Shit, we had a tough team....Fuck you now!

Que East Bond and down......

Its called ironic 4 a reason. ...

If you make a mistake, they will let you know. The "experts" look 24/7

Like Clay on LJ? You will regret?

Why im against your momam yaeds or ststa!



03-28-2009, 09:41 AM
Their most gifted player came to Missouri because his mother made him.

But, moooooom, do I have to?

03-28-2009, 09:45 AM
I was a fan of Anderson the person but not his system.

Looks like I was dead wrong about the latter.

03-28-2009, 10:51 AM
MU team carries hopes of so many old Tigers
By Bernie Miklasz (bjmiklasz@post-dispatch.com)
Saturday, Mar. 28 2009

GLENDALE, Ariz. — An unheralded and largely overlooked Missouri team stands on
the rim of history. They're one of eight teams left standing in the NCAA
Tournament, and this is truly remarkable. The Elite Eight? A few months ago,
you could have found a lot of people who would have slotted the Tigers into an
eighth-place finish in the Big 12 standings.

But coach Mike Anderson's Tigers are here, hours away from meeting UConn in the
West Region Final, hoping to go to where no other Missouri team has gone

The Final Four.

Despite a proud and accomplished overall record, College Basketball Hall of
Fame coach Norm Stewart couldn't get to college basketball's promised land. He
came close twice.

There was Norm's 1976 team, led by Willie Smith, who was accompanied by Kim
Anderson and Jim Kennedy and others. The Tigers reached the Elite Eight but
couldn't get by Ricky Green, Phil Hubbard and Michigan. Smith soared that day,
going off for 43 points, but it wasn't enough. Michigan prevailed 95-88.

Stewart had a No. 1 seed in 1994, and it was his best chance. He had a lovable,
tenacious and deep team featuring Melvin Booker, Jevon Crudup, Kelly Thames,
Paul O'Liney, Jason Sutherland, Mark Atkins, Lamont Frazier and Julian
Winfield. Mizzou swept through the Big Eight, going 14-0 in the regular season,
but was demolished 92-72 by Damon Stoudamire and Arizona in the Elite Eight.

Quin Snyder had one flukish trip to the rainbow's edge, getting to a regional
final with an overachieving No. 12 seed that had gone 9-7 in Big 12 play. But
the Tigers couldn't make shots late in the game and lost a tight one (81-75) to

MU is 0 for three in the Elite Eight. Isn't it about time to break through?

The 2009 Mizzou Tigers will be playing for those restless basketball souls
today. They will be playing for the unlucky and the unfulfilled. They'll be
playing for Norm, and for Steve Stipanovich and Jon Sundvold. They'll be
playing for Anthony Peeler and Doug Smith. And for Clarence Gilbert, John
Brown, Gary Link, Larry Drew, Ricky Frazier and Greg Cavener. And for Derrick
Chievous, Derrick Grimm, Brian Grawer, Lee Coward, Kareem Rush, Byron Irvin and
the Haley twins.

A new generation of Tigers are ready to take a shot of a lifetime. This is an
energetic, relentlessly upbeat team that doesn't see boundaries or limitations
— only opportunities. Yes, the Tigers want to do this for themselves and their
coach, but the historical impact of today's game is not lost on them.

"For me personally, I grew up in Missouri so it would mean the world to me,
especially being a fan of Missouri basketball for most of my life," MU senior
Matt Lawrence said. "Just growing up there and seeing some of the great teams
from the past and being talked about in the same breath as them is really
special for us."

A three-point checklist for beating UConn:

— Play even faster; UConn usually goes with seven players and hasn't competed
at Mizzou's berserk, vroom-vroom pace.

— Tire out the big man; the Tigers have to make UConn center Hasheem Thabeet
run the floor and work harder than he has before. It's the same formula that
wore down Blake Griffin in MU's win over Oklahoma. And Leo Lyons or DeMarre
Carroll should set up at the high post to draw Thabeet out.

— Don't play a perimeter game: UConn likes it when teams take jump shots.
Mizzou got to the foul line 45 times against Memphis and must stay on the
attack against UConn. Go inside and force the issue. Sure, some shots will be
blocked. But there is a potential tradeoff; UConn could get into some foul

If the college-basketball universe is in order, mighty UConn should win today.
UConn has 13 players in the NBA right now, and more from this squad will play
in the NBA one day. Mizzou? There are no future NBA stars on this roster. But I
like something that Coach Anderson said Friday: "Character sometimes can
outweigh talent. When you got character kids that are going to work extremely
hard and they are humble and they are hungry, that's why you see this team like
it is."

And that's a reason to believe in Mizzou.


Free Mike Alden.

Some Mizzou fans don't like Alden, Missouri's director of athletics, but all I
know is that he hired Mike Anderson to coach hoops and Gary Pinkel to coach
football, and MU has a 30-win basketball season and a 10-win football season
for the first time in university history.

How long before work begins on the T.J. Oshie statue outside Scottrade Center?
... Fred Corsi, the longtime director of operations at Scottrade Center, became
the director of ops at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale last July.
Corsi wanted to say hello to all of his friends back in St. Louis. He'll be
pulling for Mizzou today.

An update on Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo from the NFL owners' meetings: Spags
played golf as part of a foursome that included Philadelphia Eagles owner
Jeffrey Lurie, and former Eagles assistants and now NFL head coaches Brad
Childress (Minnesota) and John Harbaugh (Baltimore). ... When the wife of
Philadelphia coach Andy Reid had a surprise 51st birthday party for him last
week, the guests included Spagnuolo and former Mizzou football coach Bob Stull.
Reid was on Stull's staff at Mizzou. ... Spagnuolo's gracious wife, Maria, who
operated a hair salon in Philadelphia, plans to cut the hair of the homeless in
St. Louis through a program conceived by the Salvation Army.

The Mizzou Tigers are successful and likeable and a complete surprise; that's
why they remind me of the 1999 St. Louis Rams, win or lose today. ... Missouri
Governor Jay Nixon will attend the MU-Connecticut game. The Tigers had about
1,100 fans in attendance for the win over Memphis, and we're told that a few
hundred more are on the way.


03-28-2009, 11:01 AM
There's nothing to hate about them. All they have are a few guys nobody else wanted, and a great coach, and the belief in themselves and each other.

Missouri doesn't get one and done college players. They don't get these guys who have agents burning up their cellphones their sophomore year of high school. Missouri doesn't have guys who have graduate assistants coloring in their term papers. These guys probably won't play at the next level. All they have is this team and each other.

It's a great story, there is a lot that's wrong with college athletics, the players leaving after one year, the money, the violations. Some of that isn't too far in the school's rearview mirror. This team is what's right with college athletics.

And to make a run like this, with just a great coach and their own belief, it's the kind of thing that someone might think about making into a movie, but it would never get made, because people would find it corny and cliche. But this time it's true.

03-28-2009, 12:49 PM
Now? LOL

Beakers wishing they was MU!

Yesterday was Nice job! We meet you!

Today is **** you?

Cause we are better but Shit, we had a tough team....**** you now!

Que East Bond and down......

Its called ironic 4 a reason. ...

If you make a mistake, they will let you know. The "experts" look 24/7

Like Clay on LJ? You will regret?

Why im against your momam yaeds or ststa!


:spock: Looks like TommyKat hacked Smed's account.

03-28-2009, 01:37 PM
:spock: Looks like TommyKat hacked Smed's account.

I'm noticing more and more of these incomprehensible ramblings from him lately. I assume hooking a breathalyzer up to his computer would help dramatically.

03-28-2009, 02:14 PM
Actually the the thing this proves is how meaningless winning the conference title really is. All you need is a bid and a hot hand.