(MISSOURI BASKETBALL APP) – While the contest against Alcorn State wasn’t all that interesting to watch, what was interesting was the difference-maker in the game: size. Missouri has always been faster, but they are rarely bigger; at least not to the degree they were tonight.
Even Alcorn State head coach Luther Riley acknowledged it.
“Those guys have big bodies. I’m going to talk to the strength and coach after this interview,” he said. “Those guys, my God, they are some nice sized guys and they did a wonderful job.”
Indeed, Mizzou is overflowing with size and strength this season. Perhaps most interesting is the ever-evolving three spot in the Tiger rotation.
Right now, Missouri has the luxury of exploring different looks at the position, the most exciting of which features the 6-11 freshman Stefan Jankovic.
Despite his height, the young Canadian prefers the perimeter and the jumper over contact in the paint. His play is a better fit at the three spot than the four or five. That means Missouri’s front court can feature the 6-8 Bowers and the 6-9 Oriakhi, and leave the three spot open to the towering Jankovic for bigger sets.
But several other players have made a case for their ability to hold the three. Webster-Chan and Earnest Ross have both looked good in the role, and 6-5 Jabari Brown seems like a natural fit there as well.
While the combinations are plentiful, the question on the mind of coaches and fans has to be: what happens when Mike Dixon comes back? The dynamic senior has certainly earned a place on the court, but where does he fit in this new, height-heavy Mizzou lineup?
The natural assumption would be that Pressey and Dixon are 1-2 in the backcourt, but that moves Keion Bell into competition for the three spot; making it four very different options for one position.
If Dixon comes off the bench as he did last year, he would split time working for Pressey, the two and the three, but that means cutting down Webster-Chan and Jankovic’s playing time. While that’s something that the freshmen should expect, their success thus far makes it hard to keep them locked up on the pine.
While variety is the spice of life, it isn’t always conducive to a successful basketball team. The most common player complaint under Mike Anderson was the feeling of constant pressure when they were on the court. With only a few minutes of playing time in short bursts, players ended up pressing to make the most of it, often growing frustrated when they couldn’t get in rhythm.
When the team is all on the same page it’s less of a problem, but this Missouri team is made up of transfers, redshirts, and two returning players from last season. If you went through the 2011-12 campaign, you expect to play this season. If you transferred into Mizzou, you want to make it was worth it. Dixon, Bowers, Bell and Oriakhi are all seniors and when faced with a final season, the thought of losing your spot may be an added distraction (though this is not really a concern for the two big men).
Frank Haith may have this all planned out already, and my concern could all be for nothing. However, until Dixon comes back and we get a look at what the team is going to look like going forward, it’s a question worth pondering.