QA: Tigers have a shot at the tournament - KMOV.com

QA: Tigers have a shot at the tournament

(KMOV) -- I recently traded emails with Bill Powell, Mizzou basketball beat writer for the Columbia Missourian. Here are his responses to some questions many Tigers fans seem to have on their minds.

Mike Bittner: A win is a win, but can Wednesday night's victory over Oklahoma State - a game the Tigers led by 20 points with 10 minutes remaining in the 2nd half but managed to win by just 2 - be considered a success?

Bill Powel: As difficult as it is to win on the road in the Big 12, the Oklahoma State game should definitely be considered a success for the Tigers. Counting Missouri's win Wednesday night, road teams have only won six games in the Big 12. We saw how tough the road can be in the Tigers' loss at Nebraska. The Cornhuskers were a vastly inferior team to Missouri, but there is just something about playing on the road in the Big 12 that causes strange things to happen.

I think Wednesday's win over the Cowboys will give Missouri, especially its freshmen, a lot more confidence on the road. It will also be a learning experience about poise under pressure. I doubt we'll see Marcus Denmon committing any more intentional fouls in crunch time.

Probably the biggest question mark early in the season about this team was if they could win on the road. So even blowing the lead, I think any road win is a success.

MB: Anderson finally has athletes who play his style, but is it so up-tempo they will be worn out come March?

BP: I think there is a real possibility that some of the Tigers will be worn down. I have never seen any other basketball players compete with the constant intensity that DeMarre Carroll and J.T. Tiller bring to the court. Carroll was hurt last season and his ankle has given him some problems early this year.

Still, I don't think fatigue will be a huge factor for this team for two reasons. For one, the Tigers did a good job of scheduling a relatively tough nonconference schedule while still playing their fair share of cupcakes. The starters had plenty of rest early in the season in the second half of games against teams like SIUE and Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Secondly, the Tigers depth will help them avoid fatigue. Anderson legitimately has an 11-man rotation, and no one on the team averages more than 25 minutes. That means the team should be fresh come the end of the season.

MB: It has been noted Missouri does not have a signature go-to guy. Who do you think Anderson would want to take the last shot in a tie game?

BP: I think this is possibly the team's biggest weakness. The Tigers simply lack a player who they can get the ball to when they really need a basket at the end of a game.

Carroll is a steady player, but he's too likely to have his shots blocked to be a reliable clutch performer. J.T. Tiller and Zaire Taylor are steady players, but they aren't able to create their own shots. Tiller's jumper is subject at times. Marcus Denmon took the shot down three with four seconds to go at Nebraska, and he didn't come through.

I think if the team needs a three, Matt Lawrence should be the one to get the shot. He is having a much better season than last year. If the team needs a two, I think the best bet is Leo Lyons, but now that he is coming off the bench after his suspension, it's hard to say how much confidence Anderson has in him. Still, he's the team's most talented player.

MB: Which freshman do you think has been most impressive this far into the season?

BP: I have been most impressed with Kim English. He is a steady defender and a solid shooter. He is also a mature person and an extremely hard worker. Best of all, English is a winner and a team player.

The other freshman who is quietly having a nice start to his career is Laurence Bowers. He is a human highlight reel. There just aren't enough minutes for him.

MB: Gut feeling: Will Mizzou dance in the NCAA tournament this March?

BP: I think Missouri will be in the tournament, but it better take care of its business early. If the Tigers need to help their resume in the final three games against Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M, they could be in trouble.

I just don't see that many good teams in the Big 12. I predict Missouri will finish fifth in the conference and come in around a seven or eight seed.

Michael Bittner is a Journalism student at the University of Missouri

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