COLUMBIA, Mo. – Since Frank Haith packed up and hightailed it out of Missouri from a regional airport, rumors about the next men’s basketball coach in Columbia have been circulating at a frenzied pace.
But when Missouri AD Mike Alden announced that Kim Anderson would be the next head coach, a lot of emotions were stirred up. Some, hoping for a high-profile name to boost recruiting, were miffed. The rumor mill was pushing names onto the list of potentials that drew giddy excitement at the prospect of a nationally recognized head coach (names that weren’t synonymous with scandal like, ahem, Haith).
Others rejoiced, either remembering or looking up the importance of Kim Anderson to Missouri basketball’s legacy to date. They might argue with those underwhelmed by the selection, citing his top-20 status as an all-time scorer for the Tigers. Perhaps the pro-Anderson crowd also points out his 11 years of experience as an assistant at Mizzou, under the court’s namesake, Norm Stewart.
The naysayers might interject that Anderson’s previous accolades as a player and assistant at Missouri have nothing to do with the price of tea in China with respect to head coaching, which is a valid point. In that case, you have to acknowledge the success he’s had as a D-II coach at Central Missouri in Warrensburg. Anderson spent twelve seasons at UCM, amassing a 274-94 record and playing in seven D-II NCAA Tournaments. This past season he led UCM to the D-II Tournament Championship, where the Mules claimed only the second title in the school’s history.
Anderson has had success and is familiar with Missouri – both the state and the university – but the question remains about his abilities to recruit highly coveted high school athletes. His notoriety around the state should help him with in-state recruiting, but that won’t be enough to satisfy Tiger Nation. It’s going to be difficult to convince young players from around the country to trust in a new coach, especially one with no head coaching experience at the D-I level. The Tigers will need to stay active in their recruitment of JUCO players, an area where Mizzou stars like Jordan Clarkson and Ricardo Ratliffe have come from in the past.
Regardless of the negatives attributed to Anderson, he has proven himself as a winning coach. As a Mizzou alumnus, the added emphasis on coaching for his alma mater will undoubtedly keep Anderson on point. And who knows, the Tigers might just see the same kind of quick success out of Anderson that Kevin Ollie has seen at UConn.