2013-14 College Basketball Season Preview: Missouri

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Missouri Tigers (Last Year: 23-11, 11-7 in SEC)

2013-14 Projected Depth Chart:

C: Keanau Post (Jr)/Ryan Rosburg (Soph)

PF: Tony Criswell (Sr)/Stefan Jankovic (Soph)/Torren Jones (Fr)

SF: Earnest Ross (Sr)/Jonathan Williams (Fr)

SG: Jabari Brown (Jr)

PG: Jordan Clarkson (Jr)/Wes Clark (Fr)/Shane Rector (Fr)

Gone: PG-Phil Pressey, F-Laurence Bowers, C-Alex Oriakhi, SG-Keion Bell, G/F-Negus Webster-Chan (transfer-Hawaii), G/F-Dominique Bull (transfer-George Washington)

2013-14 Outlook:
With four of their top-five scorers gone from a year ago, the Missouri Tigers enter a bit of a transition season. They do add some quality talent including Tulsa transfer Jordan Clarkson, but will it be enough to get Missouri back to the Big Dance?

With Phil Pressey leaving early for the NBA, Clarkson should emerge as the Tigers’ point guard. He is more of a combo guard than a true point guard, but he started 40 games at Tulsa, averaging 14.2 points during his time there. A pair of freshmen, Wes Clark and Shane Rector, will compete for minutes at the one as well, and if they can acclimate themselves to the college game, will allow Clarkson to spend more time playing off the ball.

A pair of former transfers will flank Clarkson on the wing. Jabari Brown became eligible after the first semester and finished second on the team in scoring. He relies heavily on his outside shooting, and if he can become a more well-rounded offensive threat, should be the team’s go-to scorer. Earnest Ross split time as a starter and a sixth man in his first year at Missouri and averaged double figures. He is built like a tank but is also a very efficient outside shooting.

Inside, Frank Haith must replace the experienced duo of Alex Oriakhi and Laurence Bowers. Tony Criswell will step into the starting lineup at power forward and likely be joined by JUCO transfer Keanau Post. That duo will bring plenty of size, strength, and toughness to the interior, but will they be able to provide low-post scoring to open space on the perimeter for the shooters?

Sophomores Ryan Rosburg and Stefan Jankovic were seldom used during their freshmen campaigns. Rosburg brings more size to the paint, while Jankovic can stretch defenses with his perimeter shooting. Due to his versatility, Jonathan Williams should see immediate minutes at either forward position, while Torren Jones brings some athleticism to the frontcourt.

As usual, Heath picked up a pair of transfers in Louisville big man Zach Price and crazy athletic wing Deuce Bello of Baylor. Neither guy played a major role at their respective former universities and will sit out this season. Both Price and Bello will have two years of eligibility remaining once they are allowed to suit up for the Tigers in the 2014-15 season.

It looks like the SEC should get four or five teams into the NCAA Tournament this year. The Missouri Tigers figure to be in the conversation as the fourth or fifth team, but must have some new faces step into big roles in order to bounce back from last year’s underachieving performance.

Player to Watch: Keanau Post, C
The 6-11 big man was considered one of the top junior college players in the country last year and has the potential to be one of the better rim protectors in the SEC. Post’s offensive repertoire has developed nicely the past couple of years, and if he can average double figures, he could be the x-factor Missouri needs to get back to the dance.

Key Non-Conference Games:
  • 11/28 vs. Northwestern (Las Vegas Invitational)
  • 11/29 vs. Nevada (Las Vegas Invitational)
  • 12/5 vs. West Virginia (Big XII/SEC Challenge)
  • 12/7 vs. UCLA
  • 12/21 vs. Illinois (in St. Louis)
  • 12/28 at N.C. State
  • 1/4 vs. Long Beach State

  • Predicted SEC Finish: 6th

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