Ah, “The Black and Gold Game.” Or as some used to call it: “That Game That Nobody Goes To.” The latter title is a thing of the past. In unprecedented numbers, Mizzou fans arrived to watch their promising basketball team kick off its season. The strong attendance showed that fans are excited about the squad filled with talented transfers and impressive freshman, despite a touch loss to close out last season.
An hour-long autograph session, a woman’s basketball scrimmage, a dunk contest, and a skills competition preceded the highly anticipated men’s basketball scrimmage. The dunk contest was awesome.
Keion Bell, who made national headlines two years ago by throwing over seven people, accomplished a similar feat. He hurdled six people and slammed the ball home. The Mizzou faithful exploded.
But the main event was the men’s scrimmage. During it, we learned three facts about the upcoming season:
1.) Earnest Ross should start alongside Pressey, Dixon, Bowers, and Oriakhi.
The 6’5″ redshirt junior is a good fit for coach Frank Haith’s plans, especially with two small, pesky guards in Pressey and Dixon already on the floor. Tonight, Ross showed that he can both hit the three pointer and play defense in the paint, giving the Tigers more versatility. Despite his throwdown in the dunk contest, Bell was slightly underwhelming during the scrimmage. He had tunnel vision driving to the basket, and his lone three-point attempt barely caught iron. But there’s a role for Bell: He would be an excellent man sixth man. His high energy and big playmaking ability resembles Sixth Man of the Year Michael Dixon’s spark that made the Tigers so good last year.
2.) Former UAB and Independence Community College transfer Tony Criswell looks good.
Criswell bounced around early in his college career before landing with the Tigers. He averaged three points per game at UAB as a freshman, and then 10 points per game at a community college in Kansas. He is a quality rebounder and surprised the crowd with a three and long-distance two.
3.) Lawrence Bowers is back.
Watching Bowers play — even on a surgically repaired knee — was a breath of fresh air. He shows passion, looked strong down low, and did not appear to suffer any ill-effects after such an ACL injury more than 13 months ago.
The Tigers start their season on October 29th against Northwest Missouri State at Mizzou Arena. Next week, we will begin a “Meet the Team” series here on College Spun, so you can get to know your 11 (ELEVEN!) new Tigers and to make sure you don’t mispronounce “Negus” or “Jankovic.”