David Cloninger

Previewing SEC basketball: Missouri

Kim Anderson
Kim Anderson AP

Other previews

Oct. 29 Alabama

Oct. 30 Arkansas

Oct. 31 Auburn

Nov. 1 Florida

Nov. 2 Georgia

Nov. 3 Kentucky

Nov. 4 LSU

Nov. 5 Mississippi State


Coach (record at school, years; overall record, years): Kim Anderson (19-44 Missouri, third year; 293-139, 15th year)

2015-16 record (SEC finish): 10-21 (3-15)

2015-16 postseason: None



2016-17 media predicted finish: 14

DC’s predicted finish: 14

He’s outta here (senior unless otherwise noted): F Ryan Rosburg (7.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg), G Martavian Payne (did not play last year, transferred to Lindenwood-Belleville), G Wes Clark (9.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg, dismissed), F D’Angelo Allen (2.0 ppg, 1.9 rpg), G Tramaine Isabell (6.2 ppg, 1.7 rpg, transferred to Drexel), G Namon Wright (9.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg, transferred to Colorado), F Jakeenan Gant (5.1 ppg ,3.8 rpg, transferred to Louisiana-Lafayette), G Jimmy Barton (0.5 ppg, 0.3 rpg, walk-on)

He’s here (freshman unless otherwise noted): F Willie Jackson, F Reed Nikko, F Mitchell Smith, G Frankie Hughes. G Jakoby Kemp, G Brett Rau (Jr., transferred from Elgin Community College, eligible this year), G Jordan Geist (So., transferred from Ranger College, eligible this year)

Top returners: 6-7 F Kevin Puryear (11.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg), 5-11 G Terrence Phillips (7.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg), 6-3 G K.J. Walton (5.3 ppg, 1.9 rpg)

I like Kim Anderson. He’s a guy that’s humble and homegrown and was handed the chance of a lifetime when he was finally picked to coach the only team he ever wanted to coach.

I’m pretty sure the Missouri administration likes him, too … but they won’t be able to put up with another awful season. While the first two years haven’t been Anderson’s fault – he was handed a roster of renegades recruited by Frank Haith (who split before the NCAA hammer came down) and had to deal with an NCAA investigation – he’s the one who has to answer for one of the worst two-year records in program history.

The good news is there’s nowhere to go but up. This roster is all of Anderson’s guys, none of the serial knuckleheads that have departed in droves over the past two years. Leading scorer Kevin Puryear made the SEC all-freshman team last season and his team is young but experienced, with only one senior among the six who played last year. And Mizzou gets two transfers eligible this year – former Texas forward Jordan Barnett (at midseason) and former Manhattan guard Trevor Glassman.

The bad news is after coaching last year with a cloud of uncertainty hovering (Mizzou voluntarily vacated its SEC tournament last year, and the NCAA accepted probation and loss of scholarships as punishment for Haith’s wrongdoing), the cloud is still there. This time its message is, “How many wins do I need to keep my job?”

Expectations are low since Missouri has eight newcomers, although Barnett and Glassman were in practice last year. And the returnees are returnees from a 10-win team (granted, they had a nice two-game winning streak in February). Still, with a new crop that he can coach as a team instead of them relying on their individuality, a tall group and knowing the SEC is wide-open, perhaps the Tigers can get back to where they’re used to being.

I’d like to see Anderson around for a fourth year.


Coach (record at school, years; overall record, years): Robin Pingeton (101-89 Missouri, seventh year; 436-246, 22nd year)

2015-16 record (SEC finish): 22-10 (8-8)

2015-16 postseason: Second round, NCAA tournament



2016-17 media predicted finish: 8

DC’s predicted finish: 11

She’s outta here (senior unless otherwise noted): G Morgan Stock (6.8 ppg, 1.4 rpg), G Maddie Stock (2.4 ppg, 1.2 rpg), F Michelle Hudyn (1.3 ppg, 1.4 rpg), G Carrie Shephard (0.7 ppg, 0.3 rpg, transferred to Southeast Missouri State), G Juanita Robinson (3.5 ppg, 0.9 rpg)

She’s here (freshman unless otherwise noted): G Jordan Roundtree, G Amber Smith, G Jordan Chavis, G Lauren Aldridge (RJr., transfer from Kansas, ineligible this year)

Top returners: 6-1 G Sophie Cunningham (17.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg), 6-4 F Cierra Porter (8.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg), 5-10 G Sierra Michaelis (8.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg)

That was the kind of year Missouri needed. Handed no favors when joining the SEC (the Tigers made it to three straight WNITs but were running uphill), Mizzou rode the skill of ballyhooed freshman Sophie Cunningham to the NCAA tournament.

Cunningham was named SEC Freshman of the Year and Missouri was set to return almost everybody from a 22-win team. The 2016-17 season would be yet another step forward.

It still may be, but it’s going to be tough sledding. Not only will everybody be keying on Cunningham, trying to slow her down, but she and everyone else will have to take on extra responsibility due to injuries.

Leading rebounder Jordan Frericks is out for the season after tearing her ACL and Bri Porter, who was good for 10 minutes per game last year, suffered the incredulous fifth ACL tear of her career. That leaves the Tigers with 10 players, and with Cierra Porter still recovering from Lisfranc surgery, Mizzou may dress nine for its season-opener.

“That’s just where we are,” coach Robin Pingeton said at SEC Tipoff. “We do have a lot of experience coming back, so all of them will have to get an extra rebound or another assist every game.”

Cunningham will be the targeted player for opponents but Porter (when she returns) and Sierra Michaelis were third and fourth in scoring last year. Yet, they were each in single digits, a number that must improve if Missouri is going to improve.

Playing .500 ball in the SEC will get the Tigers to the postseason. Pingeton’s first non-losing conference record at Mizzou was earned last year and sure enough, the Tigers were dancing for the first time in a decade.

It won’t be easy to come in 8-8 or above, but it won’t be as hard as it was.

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