The #4-ranked University of Missouri basketball squad welcomes the Coppin State Eagles to the Hearnes Center on Tuesday for their home opener.
The Tigers are off to a 1-0 start on the year after taking down the Golden Grizzlies of Oakland, 90-85 on Saturday. The Tigers’ No. 4 ranking is their highest rank since the fifth poll of the 2001-02 season when they were ranked No. 2 in the AP Poll.
After Tuesday’s home opener, the Tigers will be on the road for four of their next five contests including a trip to Bloomington, Ind., on Saturday to take on the Indiana Hoosiers on ESPN at 3 p.m. CST.
Tiger Quick Hits
* Mizzou’s No. 4 ranking is their highest mark since the 2001-02 season when they were ranked No. 2 by the Associated Press
* Head Coach Quin Snyder is 4-0 in home openers.
* The Tigers open the home portion of the 03-04 campaign on Tuesday night against Coppin State.
* Missouri is the only school in the conference to return two players from the Big 12 Top 10 scoring list from last season (Rickey Paulding, 4th, 17.4 ppg: Arthur Johnson, 9th, 16.1 ppg).
* Coach Quin Snyder is looking for win number 86 at Mizzou.
* Rickey Paulding was named a preseason All-American by the Associated Press. He is the second Tiger to earn that honor under head coach Quin Snyder (the other being Kareem Rush prior to the 1999-2000 season).
* The Tigers are 43-20 under Coach Snyder against non-conference opponents.
A Look at the Eagles
The Eagles enter Tuesday’s contest having dropped two of their last three games. CSU dropped a 76-56 contest at Cincinnati on Saturday in their latest game despite 21 points from guard Jimmy Boykin.
Boykin in CSU’s leading scorer averaging 16.8 points per outing in a team-high 33.0 minutes per game. He is also a marksmen from beyond the three-point line, connecting on 22 of his 51 attempts from beyond the arc so far this year. Chad Yates is also a major contributor for the Eagles averaging 9.0 points per contest off of the bench while Nicholas King weighs in with 8.5 points and eight threes on the year.
Coppin plays its conference contests in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and is coached by 17th-year head coach Ron Mitchell, who is 288-218 and is in his 17th year as head coach of the Eagles.
Tip-off: 7 p.m. CST
Arena: Hearnes Center (13,611)
TV: Mizzou Sports Network. Chris Gervino, play-by-play: Norm Stewart, analyst
Radio: Tiger Radio Network. Mike Kelly, play-by-play: Gary Link, analyst
Rankings: Mizzou was ranked 4th in the latest AP Poll and 5th in the latest ESPN/USA Today Poll. Coppin State is not ranked.
Series: Tigers lead, 3-1. Last Meeting: Tigers 74-47 on 1/2/02 in Columbia, Mo.
Missouri: Quin Snyder (Duke ’89) 85-49 at MU and overall (5th season). Snyder is 1-0 vs. Coach Mitchell.
Coppin State: Ron “Fang” Mitchell (Edison State College ‘74) 288-2218 at CSU and 513-259 overall (25th year). Mitchell is 0-1 vs. Coach Snyder.
Facts, Figures and Other Points of Interest Following the Oakland Contest
* Sophomore Jimmy McKinney recorded a career-high 21 points (6-of-12 from the field, 8-of-8 from the free throw line) while pulling down three rebounds and handing out five assists in 38 minutes against Oakland.
* While this may be putting the horse before the cart, the Tigers shot a blazing 92.0% (23-of-25) from the free throw line on Saturday. This comes after shooting just 66 percent from the line last season.
* Mizzou had five players in double figures for the first time since Dec. 14, 2002, against Memphis in Columbia.
* Freshmen Linas Kleiza (16 minutes), Spencer Laurie (five minutes) and Thomas Gardner (19 minutes) made their first appearances as Tigers on Saturday night.
* Senior Arthur Johnson (19 points, 11 boards) and freshman Linas Kleiza (10 points, 12 rebounds) recorded their first double-doubles of the season.
* Senior Arthur Johnson also became only the fifth player in the history of the Big 12 to record 200 career blocked shots. His three blocks on Saturday were a game and season high. He can pass Venson Hamilton (Nebraska, 1997-99 - 202 career swats) for fourth on the Big 12 all-time blocks list on Tuesday with three blocks.
* Senior Arthur Johnson now has 37 career double-doubles.
* Senior Rickey Paulding’s 21-point effort included going 3-for-5 from three-point land. Paulding is now tied for eighth on the three-point field goals made with 140 career threes.
* With his 19-point effort, senior Arthur Johnson now has 1,287 points and passed former Tiger Lee Coward (87-90, 1,275 points) on the Mizzou all-time scoring list. He is now just two points shy of passing former Tiger assistant coach and player Kim Anderson (74-77, 1,289 points) for 20th and is only eight points behind Ron Coleman (65-67, 1,295 points) in the 19th place spot.
* Senior Rickey Paulding is remains in 23rd place on the Mizzou all-time scoring charts with his 21-point effort. He now has 1,241 points and is 34 points behind former Tiger Lee Coward in the 22nd-place spot.
Lean, Mean and on the Scene
Since coming to Mizzou at over 300 lbs. his freshman year, senior Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year Arthur Johnson’s weight (which was a svelte 255 at the beginning of this season) has gone down while his numbers have gone up. The explosive big man with feather-soft touch around the basket already owns Mizzou’s all-time shot blocking mark with 200 career swats. With his three block effort on Saturday night against Oakland, he became only the fifth player to record 200 or more career blocks in Big 12 conference history. Here’s a quick look at where he needs to go to grab that mark
Big 12 All-Time Blocked Shots Leaders
1. 264 Chris Mihm, UT-1998-00
2. 243 Nick Collison, KU, 1999-03
3. 242 Eric Chenowith, KU, 1997-01
4. 202 Venson Hamilton, NU, 1997-99
5. 200 Arthur Johnson, MU, 2000-present
If all goes according to plan, he will also become the Tigers all-time leading rebounder right around Feb. 2, which just happens to be the Tigers yearly trip to Kansas to face the Jayhawks. He needs just 184 more boards to pass former Tiger great Doug Smith on the chart. He also currently ranks 21st on the all-time scoring charts with 1,287 points and has a good shot at moving into the top five on the chart.
Last season, Johnson became only the fourth Tiger since the 1949-50 season to lead the team in rebounding in three straight campaigns and can become the first Mizzou player to lead the squad in boards for four straight years if he can be the leader of the pack once again this year. Stay tuned.
More On AJ
And if you just can’t get enough info on the big fella they call “Doc,” he is also creeping up on the Big 12 career double-doubles mark. With his season-opening 19-point, 11-rebound effort, he recorded his 37th career double-doubles, putting him in a three-way tie for fifth place on the conference charts. A look at that chart follows:
Big 12 All-Time Double-Double Leaders
1. 47 Chris Mihm, UT, 1998-00
2. 46 Venson Hamilton, NU, 1997-99
3. 44 Drew Gooden, KU, 1999-02
4. 40 Raef LaFrentz, KU, 1994-98
5. 37 Arthur Johnson, MU, 2001-Present
37 Stephane Pelle, CU, 1999-03
37 Nick Collison, KU, 1999-03
The Rick is Ready to Rock
Senior Preseason All-American Rickey Paulding is coming off of his finest year as a Tiger in which he averaged a team-high 17.4 points per contest in 2002-03. If the numbers don’t lie, and they usually don’t, Paulding has a good shot to go down as one of the finest players to ever put on the Missouri uniform if he can continue his unbelievable improvement from year to year.
Paulding earned All-Big 12 second-team honors last season and was named to the Big 12 All-Tournament team. He was named to both the Wooden and Naismith Awards this season and also earned a preseason All-American nod from the Associated Press. He ranks 23rd on the all-time Mizzou scoring charts with 1,241 points following his 21-point effort against Oakland. Paulding was awesome in his home town going 6-for-12 from the field and 6-of-6 from the free throw line sharing team-high honors with Jimmy McKinney with 21 points on the night.
Rick also moved into a tie for eighth on the Mizzou all-time three point field goals made list with Derek Grimm (1994-97). He was a flammable 3-of-5 from three against Oakland, giving him 140 for his career.
#1 at the 1
After taking over the point guard spot midway through the season last year for Mizzou, sophomore Jimmy McKinney (#1 in your program) has made it quite clear that he will do what ever it takes for the Tigers to be successful. The multi-tooled guard, whose natural position is more of a shooting guard, is capable of impacting a game in any of several ways.
He made that quite evident on against Oakland, sharing team-high honors with senior Rickey Paulding with 21 points (15 of which came in the second half). McKinney was 6-for-12 from the field including 1-of-2 from three, while going a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line. After struggling through five turnovers in the first half, he was outstanding in the second stanza, committing only one turnover. McKinney finished the night with five assists and three rebounds in a team-best 38 minutes of playing time.
Putting the Power in Power Forward
Senior Travon Bryant and freshman Linas Kleiza will provide a powerful one-two punch at the power forward position for Mizzou this season.
Bryant has ranked second on the Tiger squad in rebounding in each of the last two seasons. He averaged a career-best 8.9 points per game while actually improving his average against the brutal Big 12 with 9.8 ppg. He also pulled down 5.8 boards per contest and rejected a career-best 40 shots (he ranks seventh on the Mizzou all-time blocked shots list with 74 career swats. Bryant was solid in the Tigers season opener, scoring seven points, while pulling down eight boards.
Kleiza is a physically imposing specimen for being only a freshman. He was unbelievable is in his Tiger debut against Oakland, scoring 10 points and pulling down 12 boards in 16 minutes of action. He also handed out two assists and was a perfect 1-for-1 from the free-throw line. Kleiza averaged over 29 points per contest at the Junior World Championships last summer and will be counted on as a valuable contributor in the Tigers’ plans this year.
As already stated earlier in this unbelievably random gathering of text, the Tigers were on the road for their season opener for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. Mizzou better get used to living out of its suitcases for the first month or so of the season. Five of the Tigers first seven contests are on the road or at neutral sites including a Dec. 6 trip to Bloomington, Ind., to take on Indiana, a trip to Seattle for a might-as-well-be home game for Gonzaga at the Battle of Seattle, the Busch Braggin’ Rights game against Illinois in St. Louis and a trip to the Pyramid to face Memphis. With powerhouses like that lined up and waiting for Mizzou, this truly could be a December to remember.
Happy to Be at Home in the Hearnes
Mizzou begins its 31st and final season at the Hearnes Center home when it faces Coppin State on Tuesday. The Tigers have experienced great success at the Hearnes registering a 395-68 (.853) record since the 1972-73 season. Five Tiger squads have gone undefeated in the
Hearnes Center and 14 teams have lost one game or fewer including last year’s squad, which went 14-1 at home. From 1988-90, the Tigers went 31-0 at the Hearnes Center.
Next year, Mizzou will move into a new state-of-the art arena, which will be located just southwest of the Hearnes. The new 15,000-seat building is on schedule for completion on Oct. 1, 2004.
The Conley Countdown
In case Mizzou fans are wondering, and we are guessing that you are, when the Tigers tip off on Tuesday night, (7 p.m. CST on MSN) it will be 19 days (or 456 hours or 27,360 minutes or 1,641,600 seconds) until offensive dynamo Jason Conley, a 6-5 swingman who transferred to Mizzou from VMI, will be eligible to compete for the Tigers. As has already been well documented, Conley led the country in scoring as a freshmen averaging 29.3 points per contest. He has worked extremely hard since coming to Mizzou to gain weight (up nearly 15 pounds) while also working to become a better defender. The time for Conley will come on December 21st when the Tigers welcome UNC-Greensboro to Mizzou for a 2 p.m. CST contest in Columbia.
I Did Not Know That. Did You Know That Ed?
Pardon the tribute to Johnny Carson, but did you know that there have been 16 schools that have participated in each of the last five NCAA Tournaments? Five of the 16 are Big 12 schools – Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas. The other schools are Duke, Maryland, Indiana, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Arizona, Stanford, Kentucky, Cincinnati and Gonzaga.
The Tigers continue to work on becoming a better defensive team. Last year, the Tigers held opponents to only 41 percent, down from 45 percent in 2001-02. Also, the Tigers dropped opponents scoring average from 72.5 point per game in 2001-02 to 67.7 points per contest in 2002-03. With its new-found depth and large amount of experience in 2003-04, look for Mizzou to focus on extending opponents and jumping in passing lanes more frequently in an attempt to get out and run.
Preseason Hype, Prognostications and Items of Interest
Oh, one could say there is a pretty good buzz around the country about the Tigers heading into the 2003-04 season. Below is a listing of the preseason awards and predictions the Tigers of Ol’ Mizzou have garnered over the summer:
#5-Dick Vitale’s Preseason Sensational 16
#7-Street & Smith’s
Final Four Qualifier-Lindy’s
Elite Eight Qualifier-Athlon
Best Backcourt in the Country-Sporting News
#1 in Lindy’s list of Top 10 Frontcourts in the Country
#5-Top 25 Recruiting Class for 2003-Athlon
#11-Recruting Class in the Country-Lindy’s
Big 12 Predictions
Big 12 Champions-Blue Ribbon, Lindy’s
#2 in Big 12-Street & Smith’s
#1 Recruiting Class in Big 12-Street & Smith’s
#1 Recruiting Class in Big 12-Sporting News
Top Backcourt in Big 12-Blue Ribbon
Head Coach Quin Snyder
With a 2003-2004 team poised to be among the nation’s elite, Quin Snyder has proven that success can come quickly with hard work and determination. On the brink of his fifth season as head coach of the Missouri Tigers, Snyder is leading a team that has been ranked as high as number three in the nation in preseason polls. Missouri’s 15th head coach, Snyder has enjoyed impressive runs in the NCAA Tournament for four straight years. In fact, the 2002-2003 season was witness to a 22-win campaign that ended with an overtime loss in the NCAA Tournament to eventual Final Four contender, Marquette.
This season, Snyder’s squad promises to offer even more excitement, with a powerful returning group, highlighted by the electrifying duo of Rickey Paulding and Arthur Johnson, along with a host of new recruits. Given the excitement Snyder has generated in such a short span of time at the helm, it is not surprising that many people are waiting with anticipation for this season to begin and predicting great things for the Tigers. It is easy to see why expectations are high when you consider all of the following ...
• Missouri returns four starters from last year’s team, and in all, returns over 80 percent of its scoring, 98 percent of its blocked shots, and over 90 percent of its rebounding from last season.
• All of last season’s impressive junior class, featuring Arthur Johnson, Rickey Paulding, Travon Bryant and Josh Kroenke will be returning for their senior campaign and will join a number of exciting newcomers.
• A fifth straight top-25 recruiting class has been added to the roster this fall.
• Mizzou continues to be a fixture on national and regional television broadcasts. With every game but one on television, Snyder’s Tigers continue to create unprecedented exposure for the program.
• The program will be the direct benefactor of a new, state-of-the-art $75 million arena which athletic officials plan to have open in time for the 2004-05 season.
• Snyder signed a contract extension, which will keep him a fixture on the Tiger sidelines through at least the 2005-06 season.
• And while Mizzou’s on-court achievements constantly grab the headlines, what takes place in the classroom remains at the top of Snyder’s priority list. An academic All-American himself during his playing days at Duke, Snyder is quite proud of the fact that in his four years at MU, seven scholarship players have exhausted their eligibility and all seven have graduated. In addition, this past season saw the men’s basketball team achieve the highest GPA in 15 years.