By: Nate Gatter, KCOU Sports
This year’s Missouri basketball team is one of the worst in the university’s history. After their school-record 13th consecutive loss last Sunday, the Tigers fell to 7-20 on the season and appear likely to drop their 14th in a row Tuesday at Mizzou Arena when they take on Florida. So where does the program go from here?
The short answer: Up. College basketball is a cyclical game and every program—with the exception of a select few that reload on the top talent in each recruiting class—suffers through rebuilding years. Add a new coach to the youthful inexperience of this season’s Missouri, and the team was doomed to fail. But calling for sweeping change—or Kim Anderson’s head—is simply ridiculous.
Mizzou fans are finding out that building a consistently high-quality and sustainable program does not happen over night. Frank Haith’s efforts were woeful; he relied on short-term fixes to compete each season. Of course, Missouri fans enjoyed winning records every year—and even contending, on occasion—but Haith’s methods were similar to that of Ruben Amaro Jr.’s, the general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, in MLB: his only goal was to win as many games as possible in the current season, regardless of long-term implications. Haith existed year-to-year, likely because his eyes were always on the next job.
Luckily for Haith, he has become as expert in avoiding responsibility as the average American teenager. Now his methods are backfiring, but he left Mizzou just fast enough to avoid the repercussions of his own shortsightedness. Watch the decline of Tulsa’s basketball program over the next few years and understand the nature of Frank Haith’s “coaching.” Fortunately, Mike Alden learned from The Haith Mistake and hired a man who preaches accountability and discipline in a way Frank Haith could never understand, considering he is neither accountable nor disciplined. Missouri fans should be thankful for this season; it is a sign of Kim Anderson’s commitment to his program’s long-term success. Why not commit to him in return?
Think ahead to next season. Wes Clark returns to run the point; Namon Wright and Montaque Gill-Caesar provide scoring on the wings; Jonathan Williams III and Ryan Rosburg form an experienced frontcourt while Jakeenan Gant and Tramaine Isabell team with recruits Kevin Puryear, Cullen VanLeer, and Terrence Phillips coming off the bench. Will they contend for a national title? Of course not. But could they make the NCAA tournament? Absolutely.
Give Anderson time to mold a program at Mizzou and understand that every 2014-15 loss will contribute to future wins. Preaching the process is not evasive or naïve; it is simply the nature of building sustainable success in college basketball. He who remains patient and committed will reap his rewards. Missouri basketball will rise again.