By Chris Olszewski
The mood at the Missouri men’s basketball media day Tuesday could be defined as excitement.
“I’m ready to go,” junior guard Terrence Phillips said. “I want to get this thing started.”
Phillips is one of the veterans on this young team. He said that disagreements between the veterans and the newer players on the team haven’t been a problem. Two scrimmages against Kansas and Wisconsin have given the team plenty of opportunities to play with one another and see what works.
Head Coach Cuonzo Martin has constantly tinkered with the lineup this preseason, much of it centered on the point guard position. Phillips has spent considerable time there. So has freshman guard Blake Harris. For his part, Phillips said it doesn’t matter who starts.
“At the end of the day, it’s really just all about winning,” Phillips said. “No matter how many minutes you play, how many times you play, it’s all just about winning.”
Transfer Kassius Robertson said he, Phillips and Harris have given Martin flexibility with the guards.
“Right now, the roles are pretty interchangeable,” Robertson said. “Whether I’m on the floor, Blake can move to the two, Terrence can play the two, so you know. It’s really all about sometimes who brings the ball up and grabs the rebound. Once we grab the rebound we’re gone. I’m used to running the floor and playing the two so I can play the two whenever. But if coach needs me to step in and bring out the ball, run the offense, slow guys down, I can do that too.”
Two stalwarts on the starting lineup have been the freshmen forwards Jeremiah Tilmon and Jontay Porter. Robertson said the pair can “match up with anybody in the country.” When asked how their physicality affects their game, Tilmon said “being that we’re so big and we can run the floor well, it opens up a lot of buckets.”
Tilmon’s foul trouble was a topic of discussion among the players. Tilmon said Martin told him he “earned” all seven of his fouls against Kansas. Many of the older players called foul trouble his biggest problem. Senior guard Jordan Barnett said the entire team was helping keep him out of foul trouble and Phillips called him and Jontay Porter the “defensive anchor” of the Tigers. Phillips chalked up Tilmon’s foul trouble to simply “adjusting to the college level.”
The men’s basketball season tips off Nov. 10 at Mizzou Arena against the Iowa State Cyclones.