By Emma Moloney
After an opening-night victory against Central Arkansas, Missouri men’s basketball is gearing up for what could be a winning 2018-2019 season. Though each member of the roster has their role, the following three athletes are shaping up to be the most crucial to the Missouri men’s basketball success.
Sophomore guard Mark Smith
With an impressive start to the season on Tuesday night, the 6-foot-4 Smith from dominated against the Bears, scoring 19 points in just 26 minutes. With an additional 10 rebounds, Smith was able to record his first career double-double. This offensive spark was key in the Tigers’ win Tuesday, and an aspect of Smith’s skill set that will come in handy as Mizzou’s season continues.
A recent transfer to Mizzou, Smith averaged 5.8 points in his 19 games at rival Illinois, shooting just 23.2 percent from the three-point range. However, his skill as a shooter has clearly developed since arriving to Mizzou Arena, as Smith sank 5 three-point shots, all within minutes of one another. Smith’s clear improvemnt from his freshman year is another good sign for the Tigers,- showing his dedication to maintaining his offensive skill throughout the entirety of the season.
Sophomore center Jeremiah Tilmon
Towering above most others on the court, 6-foot-10 Jeremiah Tilmon from East St. Louis, Illinois is a force to be reckoned with, both offensively and defensively. Following close behind Smith, he scored 16 points in Tuesday night’s game against Central Arkansas, accompanied by 5 rebounds and even 2 assists. Evidently using his frame to his advantage, Tilmon’s stature and presence on the court is a major advantage for the Tigers.
Starting all 33 games in the 2017-2018 season, Tilmon’s athletic skill has been evident since his first appearance. However, his build frequently got him into foul trouble in last year’s games, fouling out of 10 games and losing valuable playing time because of it. This may not be as large of an issue for Tilmon this season, as he played the entirety of the first half without committing a single personal foul. This improvement, paired with a clear skillset and knowledge of the game, makes him an extremely valuable asset for the Tigers in the upcoming season.
Senior guard Jordan Geist
At 6-foot-2, Geist is a seasoned member of the Mizzou men’s basketball team. Though clearly offensively talented, Geist shines defensively on the court, often performing reliably well and recording record numbers of assists and steals. He ranked ninth in the SEC for league games only in assist/turnover ratio last year, dishing out a team-high 95 assists and ranking third on the team in steals with 27.
He’s had an up-and-down career in Columbia; highlighted by a costly turnover in a loss to Florida in January, but consistently works his way into head coach Cuonzo Martin’s rotation- and this season, his starting lineup- with his hard-nosed defense and gritty play style.
Despite his impressive statistics, Geist seemed to struggle in Tuesday night’s game, only scoring 5 points and 3 assists against the Bears. With a few “easy” missed shots and an unfortunately-timed foul, Geist’s typical reliability was called into question. This could be due to first-game nerves and, as one of the Tigers’ most consistent and talented athletes, there is only room for improvement for Geist in the upcoming games, providing an opportunity for this defensive star to shine again at Mizzou Arena.
Edited by Garrett Jones | firstname.lastname@example.org