Tag:Phil Pressey
Posted on: December 1, 2011 1:59 pm

Frank Haith has Missouri Tigers rolling

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."
Posted on: November 23, 2011 1:04 pm
Edited on: November 23, 2011 1:10 pm

Mizzou players enjoying new system under Haith

By Jeff Goodman

Kids love playing fast. However, what they really enjoy is playing more and playing free.

That's just one of the reasons why Missouri senior Kim English and his teammates have thrived thus far.

There's the 5-0 record under new coach Frank Haith - but plenty of Top 25 teams are undefeated. The Tigers have pummeled Notre Dame and Cal by an average of nearly 30 points.

"It's easier to get in a flow this year," English said shortly after the 92-53 rout over a ranked Bears team. "I never have to worry about hunting my shots, because I trust the system."

Marcus Denmon was the lone player on the team who averaged 30-plus minutes a year ago under Mike Anderson. He's averaging 31 minutes this year and seen his scoring increase from 16.9 to 19.6 points per game. English's minutes have gone from 25.8 to 33.2, Michael Dixon's have increased from 22.3 to 26.8 and Phil Pressey has jumped from 22 to 30.8.

Haith wasted no time making the intelligent move of not only putting the ball in Pressey's hands the majority of the time, but allowing the pass-first, jet-qick point guard to play through his mistakes -- something Anderson never understood. Even when Pressey struggles a bit, as he did against Cal, Dixon can pick up the slack.

"They won't both be off," English said. "Phil needs the ball in his hands; that's his advantage."

English said this is the happiest he's been in his career.

"Last year was so hard from me. When I got cut from USA basketball, I was in the dumps," he said. "It was almost like I fell out of love with basketball. Then I started working all summer and now it's fun again."

"This team is definitely the most selfless team I've ever played on," he added.

English is thriving, averaging 16 points thus far and shooting the ball as well as he has in his career. He's 18-of-30 from beyond the arc. Denmon continues to shine, Ricardo Ratliffe is solid in the post and the combo of Pressey and Dixon is a terrific 1-2 punch - and can also play together.

Sure, it's early to completely leap onto the Mizzou bandwagon.

The Tigers are far from intimidating up front and don't have much depth.

But these guys aren't looking over their shoulder anymore -- and for them, that's a welcome change.

Photo: AP
Posted on: February 7, 2011 11:31 pm

A lot of Little goes a long way for Kansas

Mario Little had a career night as KU routed arch-rival Missouri in Allen FieldhousePosted by Eric Angevine

Josh Selby out with a foot injury?

No problem.

Both Morris twins on the bench at the same time?

Easily countered.

The Jayhawks won't want to test that theory often, but it worked against Missouri tonight. Mario Little, a junior college transfer who battled injuries that forced him to redshirt last season, and sat out a suspension this year, finally got his chance to make an impact for Kansas in a key game.

In fact Little had a career night in KU's 103-86 rout of Mizzou, scoring 17 points in as many minutes on 7-9 shooting from the floor. He wasn't the only senior reserve who made the most of extra time, either. Brady Morningstar, who started in place of the injured Selby, had seven assists and no turnovers against the Missouri press.

Despite the lopsided score, freshman Phil Pressey put on a star turn for the visiting team, draining four of five three-pointers, often from beyond NBA range, en route to 17 points on the evening. Veteran Kim English came off the bench for the second straight game, yielding the starting backcourt spots to Pressey and his older brother Matt.

The younger Pressey was one of three Tigers to foul out of the game. Big men Laurence Bowers (19 points) and Ricardo Ratliffe (12 points) were frustrated by the KU post players and each hit the five-foul limit well before the game ended. The inside battle definitely belonged to the Jayhawks, with Marcus Morris leading all scorers with 22 points and Markieff notching 17 to go with 7 rebounds and 3 blocks.

The two teams will meet again in Columbia, Missouri on March 5, which is the last day of the regular season for both. Successfully facing pressure was a good test for the 23-1 Jayhawks, who have only lost to the Texas Longhorns this season. Missouri, at 18-6, has fallen to sixth place in the Big 12 despite retaining a top-25 ranking, and has a long stretch of winnable games between now and the rematch. However, they must win all three home games and at least one roadie to finish the season above .500 in the Big 12.
Posted on: January 5, 2011 5:38 pm

Missouri prepares to gang-tackle the Big 12

Posted by Eric Angevine

Missouri has no stars. You hear that all the time, but there's statistical evidence to back up the claim in this case.

I don't know how often you might check kenpom.com, but it's pretty crucial information for the serious college basketball fan. Looking at the average team page, you'll see individual player stats under the team stats, generally broken down into Major Contributors, Significant Contributors, Role Players, Limited Roles and Nearly Invisible. There's usually a bell curve effect, with most falling in the middle and one or two at the extremes.

Not on the Mizzou team page. No single player merits the Major Contributor tag, which denotes a player who uses more than 24 percent of his team's posessions. Nor is anyone labeled a Role Player. Instead, the Tigers land a whopping eight players in the Significant Contributor category. The rotating backcourt of Michael Dixon (brief suspension), Phil Pressey (injury) and Matt Pressey (third choice) is there, as are three post players, Kim English and offensive wiz Marcus Denmon. No man is 100 percent dispensable or indispensable. It's rather remarkable, really.

In fact, this may be an ideal lineup for Mike Anderson's offensive and defensive needs. Anderson runs his variant on the Forty Minutes of Hell system developed by his mentor, Nolan Richardson. The stringent physical demands of the pressing and trapping defense can lead to fouls borne of weariness - having a lineup of reliable options can negate both problems.

The aforementioned point guard situation may be the best evidence of how well-heeled the Tigers are right now. Dixon was the starter early on, while the Pressey brothers -- one a freshman and the other a new junior college transfer -- backed him up. When Dixon was suspended after nine games, the younger brother, Phil stepped in and ran the team very well. Then Phil broke his finger and older brother Matt took over. Third choice or not, Matt has directed the offense well enough to retain the starting job even as Dixon returned from exile. Egos aside, the minutes are divided up pretty evenly, with Pressey starting, Dixon coming off the bench, and both averaging around 25 minutes per game.

Mizzou won't need everyone in the rotation to be on tonight, as they take on non-DI foe North Alabama. Perhaps we'll see more of Mr. Limited Role Ricky Kreklow, or the Nearly Invisible man, Steve Moore. After that, the Big 12 season begins. That's when we'll find out if star-laden teams like Kansas, Baylor and Texas can handle the gang-tackle of Very Good that is the Missouri Tigers lineup. 
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