By: Eric Kelly
We live in a world where the life of a freshman athlete is different than it’s ever been before. Nowadays, freshmen in college athletics are expected to make an instant impact the minute he steps on campus, and for the most part, he’s expected to come to college already with skills required to be pro-ready.
Sometimes we see this in football (especially the quarterback position), but naturally, football players have three required years of college football to play before he is allowed to leave for the NFL. Therefore, if a kid doesn’t come polished and ready for the pros, he’s guaranteed an extra two years to learn from his freshman mistakes.
On the other hand, college basketball is an entirely different animal. This is a generation where one-and-done is the most well known phrase in the sport, and it’s the goal for many kids entering school. Instead of building teams around a variety of players, college coaches have more freshmen in the starting rotation than upperclassmen (cough, cough John Calipari).
Much like Kentucky and Duke seemingly every year, this year’s Missouri Tiger team is extremely young. There’s only one senior on the team, Ryan Rosburg, and freshmen and sophomores dominate the lineup.
Don’t get me wrong; even though the team is young, it’s talented. It may be extremely raw talent, but it’s talent nonetheless.
A big issue though, is that in this world we live in, many fans see this young talent and look at it through Big, Blue Kentucky glasses, as in “Why don’t these young kids compete?”
Well, here’s a simple answer for you: This team is not good…….yet. These are still young guys, many of whom are trying to adapt to the college game, and unlike Kentucky’s McDonald’s All-Americans, these guys are not jumping straight to the NBA either.
There are still some kinks in this team, and they’re obvious. They don’t jell together like a team that’s played together for many years, and it’s clear. They also are a little bit immature, and emotionally unstable, and it affects their game. On top of that, I don’t think there’s one clear guy who will step up in the clutch and be the scorer this team desperately needs, and why would you be surprised? The top two scorers from last season’s squad both left town for greener pastures.
So with that in mind, have expectations for this year’s squad, that’s fine. But please, be realistic. This team will not win the SEC. This team will not make the NCAA Tournament this year. Heck I don’t think this team will beat a ranked opponent. Also, please don’t tell me that right now this team could beat last year’s, that’s just not true.
Instead, when you watch, realize that the future is bright, and maybe, in a few years, another tourney bid is in its future, because while the present will not be perfect, it’s pretty alright, and that’s all we can ask for.