(Missouri Basketball App) -- The Big XII Tournament is full of treats for the casual viewer. Already we've seen Baylor dressed as highlighters, Kansas film an NBA audition tape, and Mizzou trot out a lineup of Andrew Jones, Steve Moore, Matt Pressey, Jared Sutton, and Mike Dixon in THE FIRST HALF.
Conference tournaments are almost better than the big dance. They have constant drama, a final shot at rivals, and that last desperate rush to a tournament bid. But for teams like Mizzou, the question is always how much they should give. There's always the fear of flaming out after a mad dash through 5 days of hoops, or accumulating rust if a team exits too early. So what does this year's Tiger team need to get out of the tournament? Exactly what they got out of the first game.
This team only works at full throttle. Trying to play soft, avoid injury, and rest for tournament time would be absolutely crippling for the way these guys operate. I understand the argument. With a team of seven that burns at this temperature, adding any unnecessary stress on their bodies seems like too much of a risk. But Frank Haith seems willing to take that risk, and I think he's right. This Mizzou team needs as much experience as possible.
The NCAA Tournament is the ultimate wild card. It's like traveling into imagination land. Every single scenario that a coach runs in practice WILL happen, and several more that no one imagined are bound to occur as well. Missouri needs every single second of game time to prepare. So does Frank Haith. This team might have some seniors, but this is really everybody's first time around. It's a brand new system, a new coach, and a new performance threshold for some of our players.
We need to learn how to hold a lead. We need to learn how to contain a heroic individual effort. We need to recognize when someone is having a legendary night and get them the ball. We need to be down at halftime with no choice but to win. The conference tournament might not take care of all those situations, but it's the closest thing we're going to get; and we have to play it full speed.
If there were any questions as to whether Mizzou was going to take this seriously, they have been answered. The Tigers had 72 points with 11 minutes to play. Marcus Denmon emerged from halftime with a mission to make sure the nation knew his name. Even Steve Moore took a few wild attempts at a drive. The Tigers have made their statement. See you soon, Kansas.