Friday, November 17, 2006

Official Missouri Preview

In the third meeting between Davidson and Missouri in the last three years, the Tigers will look to oust the fiesty Wildcats who have pulled off two consecutive "upsets." Each loss to Davidson during the past two seasons have the set the tones for mediocre Missouri seasons that have routinely underachieved with great raw talent.

Although it would seem that all of these Missouri Tigers will be itching for revenge against Davidson on Sunday, there aren't that many players on this team that have actually gone through those losses. The Tigers will be looking for help from a talented group of transfers and freshman in order to set a new course under new head coach Mike Anderson. To this day, many fans still blame the firing of former coach Quinn Snyder on the back-to-back losses to some "po-dunk small-time NC school."

Frontcourt: In the frontcourt, Missouri will have a small height advantage behind the 6-9 Lyons and 6-9 Grimes, but they will also have some trouble fitting into coach Anderson's new fast-paced offense. Last year, the Davidson interior torched this same group of Missouri players as the Davidson frontcourt outscored Missouri 47-10. This year, Sander and Meno have more than made up for the loss of Johnson as the rebounding numbers are up (+20 rebounding over UIC this week), and so are the trash put-back points. Now that Sander is hitting the three-pointer and stretching the defense, this Missouri group will have a hard time containing Davidson's big men in the half court.

Backcourt: Missouri will miss the early departure of Thomas Gardner who scored 30 points in the Tigers losing effort in Davidson last year. Although they return Horton at the point, the Tigers are will still be trying to their rhythm in their new hurry up schemes. The depth is young and the experience may become an issue if this team gets down. However, on paper, Missouri will probaly have the speed and athleticism to get out in front on the fast break. For Davidson, this might be the game where their bubble finally bursts. The Cats have been riding the hot play of freshman Stephen Curry who has put up 90 points in his first four games, including 32 against Michigan and 23 in the second half against UIC. Curry has a propensity for playing outside of himself so far, and if he starts turning the ball over and missing shots, Davidson will have to look for Jason Richards to spend more time at the point creating shots. The Tigers should also look out for freshman Will Archambault who has been a force off the bench. His three-point range seems to be infinite at this point.

Keys to the game: For Missouri, this game is about revenge and pride. They know that they have been embarrassed in the last two seasons by a team playing in a mid-major conference. If the Tigers can get their crowd behind them they might be able to create a big-league early off of quick scoring and transition baskets. They will have to play smart however, because the Wildcats have just come off a 100-89 win over a team in UIC that also thought that they could outrun the Cats. Davidson needs to continue to find a happy medium between playing loose and playing within the system. If the Wildcats cut down on turnovers, score easy baskets inside and hit a few three-pointers, they could make it interesting.

No comments: