Claremore Daily Progress

Sports

October 31, 2012

Pressey factor looms large for 15th-ranked Mizzou

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Unlike football, Missouri's transition to the SEC might not be so difficult when it comes to the other marquee sport.

Only two players are back from Frank Haith's 30-win debut season, and just one starter, but that's preseason SEC player of the year Phil Pressey. A third cog is back on the front line after a year lost to injury, and then there are all of those blue-chip pickups for the AP national coach of the year to put on the floor when he's ready.

After setting career highs with 10.3 points, 6.4 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 2.1 steals, Pressey spent his summer competing at the LeBron James, Chris Paul and Deron Williams elite camps. Fellow guard Michael Dixon was perhaps the nation's best sixth man with a 13.5-pint average last season, and is a second-team preseason all-conference choice.

Forward Laurence Bowers returns from a left knee injury for his senior season needing just 26 blocks to become No. 2 on the school career list and 126 points for 1,000.

Perhaps it's a team that could finally end Missouri's Final Four drought. Last spring, the Tigers won the Big 12 tournament and were a No. 2 seed in the West before getting upset by Norfolk State in their NCAA opener.

"I really think so,'' Bowers said. "From a talent standpoint, and just all the intangibles, we have a really good chance. Now, obviously, we've got to still work. You can have all the talent in the world, and if you don't have work ethic it doesn't matter.''

There's already a bump in the road, with Dixon and freshman Dominique Bull suspended indefinitely for an undisclosed violation of team rules prior to the exhibition opener. There is still plenty of time to get everyone aboard before the SEC opener Jan. 8 at home against Alabama.

Missouri is loaded with experience, especially for a school that lost Marcus Denmon and Kim English to the NBA draft, plus center Ricardo Ratliffe. The transfer class of Keion Bell, Jabari Brown, Alex Oriakhi and Earnest Ross is considered among the best in history by one publication, and Bell, Oriakhi and Ross started the exhibition opener.

The 6-9 Oriakhi played on the 2011 national title team with Connecticut and has one year of eligibility remaining. Brown (Oregon) and Ross (Auburn) are 6-5 guards and Bell (Pepperdine) is 6-4. Ross has SEC experience and led the team in rebounding during its European tour in August.

Better still, Brown practiced with the team last year.

"It helped me a lot, because I wasn't as far in the dark in terms of what to expect, in terms of how Coach Haith does things,'' Brown said. "I got to see firsthand for all of last year, start of conference play.''

There's no doubt about the focal point. It's the elusive, fearless Pressey.

Missouri always had the inside recruiting track, given Pressey began his college career playing for Mike Anderson, whom he grew up calling "Uncle Mike.'' Anderson was a college teammate of Pressey's father, former NBA star Paul Pressey. Now at Arkansas, Anderson knows all too well what he left behind.

"I've known him all his life,'' Anderson said. "Phil is the epitome of a point guard, he's like a coach on the floor. I think he's ahead of his time. Obviously, he's got to go out and play and prove it, but I think he'll be up to that challenge.''

Pressey is a finalist for the Bob Cousy Award given to the nation's top point guard. Last year as a sophomore, he broke the school single-season record with 223 assists and his 74 steals is second-most. He is 158 assists and 61 steals shy of school career records.

Pressey and Dixon have piled up 569 assists as teammates and with 212 more will become the top assist tandem in school history in just three seasons.

"Only time can tell how good we can be,'' Pressey said. "We're going to work every day, and I think we can have a terrific season.''

Missouri was the nation's top shooting team last season with 50 percent accuracy, and also was the best at assist/turnover ratio. The Tigers were in the top 10 in scoring (80.4 points), scoring margin (14.1 points), 3-point percentage (39.8 percent), turnovers (10.2) and turnover margin (4.1).

Haith's new team hit the ground running in the exhibition opener, going up 27-3 early against Division II Northwest Missouri State on Monday, and opens the regular season Nov. 10 at home against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. There are games against NIT champion Stanford and either Louisville or Northern Iowa in the Battle 4 Atlantis Nov. 22-24 and with the other side of the draw including Duke.

The Tigers begin a home-and-home series with UCLA, playing on the road this year Dec. 28, and they have a three-game winning streak in the annual Braggin' Rights game against Illinois in St. Louis, with this year's matchup set for Dec. 22.

 

1
Text Only
Sports
  • BASEBALL: Howe’s RBI-double rallies Zebras past Vinita

    Claremore senior designated hitter Bryce Howe delivered an RBI-double in the bottom of the fifth inning that helped rally the Zebras to a 6-3 win over Vinita in the 4-State Festival Friday night at American Legion Park.

    April 13, 2014

  • DSC_0100web.jpg BASEBALL: Zebras rock Memorial, 9-0

    Going, going, gone...
    With the bases loaded in the top of the fifth inning, Claremore senior designated hitter Bryce Howe made Tulsa Memorial pay for intentionally walking senior catcher Matt Whatley.
    Howe’s grand slam — his second of his varsity career — boosted Claremore to a 9-0 victory over Tulsa Memorial Thursday afternoon in Metro Lakes Conference action.

    April 13, 2014 3 Photos

  • FILBYweb.jpg BASEBALL: McGill’s seventh-inning hit propels Sequoyah past Sallisaw

    Logan McGill’s bases loaded ground ball with one out in the bottom of the seventh scored McKaine Foster, giving Sequoyah a 5-4 victory over Sallisaw Friday evening in the 4-State Baseball Festival.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • SOCCER: Lady Zebras blast Metro Christian, 3-0

    The No. 3-ranked Class 5A Claremore Lady Zebras scored two goals in the first half to complete the 3-0 win over Metro Christian Friday night.

    April 13, 2014

  • DSC_0068web.jpg BASEBALL: ‘Cats sweep Aggies

    The Rogers State University baseball team swept a doubleheader against Heartland Conference opponent Oklahoma Panhandle State Friday afternoon at the Diamond Sports Complex.
    The Hillcats took advantage of four Aggie errors and tallied eight hits en route to a 4-0 victory.
    In the nightcap, RSU belted 10 hits to register a 5-2 win.

    April 13, 2014 2 Photos

  • WNBA DRAFT: Phoenix Mercury select OSU's Tiffany Bias

    Tiffany Bias became the third player in Oklahoma State history taken in the WNBA Draft, going to the Phoenix Mercury with the fifth pick (17th overall) of the second round on Monday evening.

    April 15, 2014

  • Arkansas hosts A-Club Spring Reunion on April 25-26

    The A Club is hosting its annual Spring Reunion weekend April 25-26 around the Razorback football team's Red-White Spring Game.

    April 15, 2014

  • WNBA DRAFT: Tulsa Shock add Hooper, Plaisance to 2014 roster

    The Tulsa Shock have selected Jordan Hooper with the 13th overall pick and Theresa Plaisance with the 27th overall pick, respectively, in the WNBA Draft.

    April 15, 2014

  • WNBA DRAFT: Tulsa Shock select Baylor's Odyssey Sims

    The Tulsa Shock have selected guard Odyssey Sims with the second overall pick in the WNBA Draft.

    At Baylor, Sims finished her career averaging 28.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.0 steals per game her senior year.

    April 15, 2014

  • NCAA MEN'S BB: Kentucky's Cauley-Stein returns for junior season

    Kentucky has announced that 7-foot center Willie Cauley-Stein will return for his junior season.
    Cauley-Stein missed the final three games of the Wildcats' run to the NCAA championship game after sustaining a left ankle injury in the Midwest Region semifinal against Louisville.

    April 15, 2014