The Missouri Tigers will unveil their up-tempo offense when they host the Central Michigan Chippewas in the season opener for both teams Tuesday.
“When you have multiple guys that can make plays at the rim and get out in transition, that’s a good thing,” Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin said.
The Tigers returns just one regular starter, Kobe Brown, and one regularly used reserve, Javon Pickett, from last season’s 16-10 squad that reached the NCAA Tournament. Missouri was picked 10th in the preseason Southeastern Conference media poll.
Martin will rely heavily on transfer guards Jarron “Boogie” Coleman (13.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists per game at Ball State), Amari Davis (17.2 points at Green Bay), and DaJuan Gordon (9.1 points, 5.5 rebounds at Kansas State).
He also likes the multi-positional versatility of Brown, Pickett and UMass transfer Ronnie DeGray III. Freshman Yata Keita and 7-foot-3 sophomore Jordan Wilmore have the tall task of replacing center Jeremiah Tilmon, who moved on to pro basketball.
“We have so many moving parts and it’s tough to defend when you’re coming out in transition. You’re trying to figure out who does what,” Martin said. “That’s not easy.”
Central Michigan, which finished 7-16 a year ago, was picked 10th in the preseason Mid-American Conference coaches poll. The Chippewas come to Mizzou Arena with two players who started more than twice last season, forward Ralph Bissainthe and 6-foot-10 center Aundre Polk.
First-year coach Tony Barbee, a former head coach at UTEP and Auburn, spent the previous seven seasons working on John Calipari’s staff at Kentucky. Barbee rounded up 12 newcomers after taking his new assignment.
He added ample size with 6-foot-11 Miroslav Stafl (10.5 points, 5.5 rebounds per game at Hartford) and 6-foot-10 Harrison Henderson (8.7 points, 6.3 rebounds at Southern). Guard Jermaine Jackson Jr. (15 points per game at Long Island) could emerge as a go-to scorer.
“I don’t know how good we’ll be, but when we walk through the airport, they won’t be asking us if we’re a soccer team,” Barbee said. “We’ve got some great size, some great length, some real presence on the inside. We’ve got great length and athleticism on the wing. We’ve got some guys who can shoot it, and we’ve got some quick, fast guards who can do some different things.”
–Field Level Media