Transcript of Missouri coach Mike Anderson talking to the media this morning at the Sprint Center in Kansas City:
Looking forward to the upcoming year, especially when we sit down here. This time of the year, I guess your body tells you that basketball is really, really in the air. I'm excited about this group. We lost some key guys last year. J.T. Tiller, Zaire Taylor, and Keith Ramsey. And your question from a coaching standpoint is how do you replace those guys that were your glue guys? They were the trench guys that did all the work in the deflections, rebounding, loose balls, didn't worry about scoring.
So now I got a host of guys that can score. How do you make their roles where they do some of the blue collar things. That's going to be the challenge for our basketball team.I think the guys coming back, I think they are excited about the guys that are coming in. We had a class that was kind of heralded in terms of being ranked in the nation, but these guys hadn't played a single second of college basketball. So there's some question marks. But I like the potential and that's why I'm really, really excited about this group here. It is year five, and we hope to make another move to another level in Tiger basketball.
Q. Can you talk about the young guys and just kind of — I know it is still early, but what you are seeing from them so far?
We have one senior. That will be Justin Safford, a guy who is in his fourth year. He is coming off of an Achilles tendon -- not Achilles tendon, but ACL surgery. So he's the lone senior on our basketball team. And so when you talk about the young guys coming in, you talk about a guy like Phil Pressey who has practiced well. I think he's -- you would think he is a sophomore, but he just has great basketball -- he fits what we are doing. What I mean by that, we play up tempo basketball. I like instinctive guys.This guy, I tell you what, he is really crafty with the basketball. He creates for others. And he can see it before I even see it. And he will throw a couple up in the stands, but at the same time, I think he'll -- he will make it very exciting.
I remember when Laurence Bowers came to our basketball team, I said you are going to have some guys that will get some highlights. This guy will be a highlight waiting to happen, where we got highlight No. 2, and that's going to be Phil Pressey. He has his brother, his sidekick along with him, Matt Pressey who is in the mode of J.T. Tiller. He is one of those guys that does anything to make your basketball team win. Got a chance to be a tremendous defender.
He is a junior college all-American. He is one of those glue guys that you got to have on your basketball team. Ricky Kreklow, I got some guys with some pretty amazing genes, his dad played in the NBA as well, Wayne Kreklow, who is the volleyball coach at Missouri. Ricky is a 6' 6" kid who can shoot the basketball. The thing I really like about him is he is gritty. He will not back down from anybody. He passes the ball well and just plays the game with a tremendous amount of passion.
So he is -- he competes each and every day and he has been working out. His workouts have been great up to this point.Obviously, they are going against each other. The young man that everyone probably is aware of is Ricardo Ratliffe, considered one of the best junior college players in the country. He hasn't disappointed me at all. He's come in with a tremendous work ethic which really kind of surprises me, especially a guy that heralded.Six feet eight, 240, if you are going to guard him, you will feel it, too. Our guys describe him as an ox, a beast. He can give us the guy that can give us a low post presence. He loves to rebound the basketball. But obviously there will be a transition for him as well.
And the last in that class is Kadeem Green, 6-8 forward that has a 7-2 wing span coming off an Achilles tendon tear. He is slowly progressing, but we think his upside is very good.You take the newcomers and put it with the new guys that are returning, Kim English, Marcus Denmon, Laurence Bowers, who is a guy that's a double-double waiting to happen for you, that excites me, Steve Moore who was playing real well at the end of the year because of injuries to our basketball team. He has come back, and I think he is playing with a lot more confidence. John Underwood has put 20 pounds on. And, of course, the lone freshman, Mike Dixon, I think he is a better player now than he was last year. So as a coach, that excites me.
But we have got some work to do. As I said, our brand will be we hang our hats on our defense. And obviously most guys, they practice their offense all summer long. So I think now is the time to start practicing with the defense.
Q. Kim is obviously your leading returning scorer. Can you talk a little bit about where he needs to return.
COACH ANDERSON: I think Kimmy understands this is his junior year. His role has changed a little bit. Last year he was the primary scorer. I would like to see him be a guy that would give me four or five rebounds if he is going to be out there. Defensively, I think he has got to be a guy that can guard people, lateral quickness. He knows that.
But I think Kimmy is doing all the things he can to become a complete player. But I think more than that, I think now he is in a position now that he hopefully relishes in, and that's to be a leader. This guy wants to be a leader from day one, but you had DeMarre Carroll, so you had to wait your time. Of course in year two he wanted to do the same thing, but you have J.T. Tiller and Zaire Taylor. Now I think he is at that point where his role has changed. Hopefully that's going to be a big part of it. I think he is excited about his junior year. I think he is excited about his team. I think when you talk to our guys, you will find out they are really excited about what's taking place at the University of Missouri.
Q. You are pretty deep at the guard position. How do you see the minutes being distributed throughout the season? And then, secondly, you lost big shot Zaire Taylor. Who will be the new big shot for 2010-11?
COACH ANDERSON: It is just amazing, you talk about Zaire, and he was a guy. He was a Blue Hen before he became a Missouri Tiger and hit some of the biggest shots, of course, since I have been there. I think he was on YouTube the other day and he is doing a little clip, he was doing it over there in Belgium, hitting big shots. He is sitting back there saying, Coach, I'm still doing it. That's something that's going to -- it will be interesting with this basketball team. When you look at the players, I think Marcus Denmon is a guy, he is a clutch guy. I think Kimmy could be a clutch guy. I think you are going to see an array of guys that can create and make plays.
I think the key is to make a play. And there might be another guy that will be the recipient. I think Phil Pressey is a guy that can create something for you, Mike Dixon. That will play itself out. And you talk about the abundance of guards. That's kind of a good problem to have. We'll figure out -- I think it works its way out throughout practice and throughout the games. That might be a time you see three guards, you may see four guards. I think the great thing about what's taking place with our team this year, I think we have got more balance.
When you talk about balance, Elite 8 team, it was more -- I think you had forwards that were more the dominants, DeMarre and Leo, rightly so. Last year I thought we were more perimeter-oriented. And, of course, this year, with Ricardo coming in, with Bowers having a little bit more experience, Safford being a senior, now I think we got some balance with your guard play with Kimmy and Mike Dixon and Marcus Denmon, those guys can give us some balance. When you have got balance, that's pretty good. I like the depth. I like the depth.