By Jeff Goodman
Frank Haith was concerned with how his players would react when the reigns of a veteran club at Missouri.
"Usually, it goes one of two ways," Haith said. "They can adjust to what you do -- or they fight you on it. ... These guys bought in -- and I was surprised at how quickly it happened."
Haith has raved about how this team obliged thus far, but he is also cautiously optimistic going forward.
"We've got a lot way to go," Haith said.
Remember, this is a team without much depth - especially along the frontline. The matchups against both Cal and Notre Dame were advantageous, but for Missouri to win the Big 12 - the Tigers will have to win games against Kansas and Baylor.
"Those are two tough matchups for us because of their size," Haith said.
Haith raved about the chemistry of the team, something that was clearly an issue a year ago. Guys are getting their shots - and the numbers are impressive. KenPom.com has the Tigers at second in the nation at efficiency field goal percentage (a number that credits teams for 3-pointers) and eighth in the country at adjusted offensive efficiency. Missouri is shooting 43 percent from beyond the arc and 77 percent from the line.
The first move that Haith made after taking over was to make it clear that sophomore Phil Pressey would have the ball in his hands far more than was the case a year ago under former coach Mike Anderson. Pressey has responded, averaging 10.2 points and coming off a game in which he had 11 assists without a turnover -- and also without taking a single shot.
"I say it all the time that he reminds me of T.J. Ford," said Haith, who coached Ford as an assistant at Texas. "They are both pure point guards who can control the game without scoring. Phil can also be a terror on the defensive end. T.J. didn't do that as much."
Senior Kim English has thrived thus far under Haith after being forced, following the season-ending injury to big man Laurence Bowers in the preseason, to play the four spot. He's averaging a career-high 18.2 points while shooting 63 percent (25-of-40) from 3-point range.
"These guys are so gifted offensively that they don't have to hunt shots," Haith said. "They've bought into that."
Marcus Denmon leads the team in scoring (18.5) and is also averaging 5.7 boards per game while shooting 42 percent from long distance - all with committing just three turnovers through the first six games, all victories.
"He's a great scorer whose been sharing the ball, too," Haith said. "He can really shoot it, has a great first step and is terrific in transition."