November 17, 2009

Bowers could be an answer to Mizzou's questions

A season ago, the Missouri Tigers snuck up on just about everyone. The Tigers were picked seventh in the Big 12 pre-season poll. They did not debut in the national rankings until February 9th, by which point they were 20-and-4. They won the Big 12 tournament as the three seed. They were still just a three in the NCAA Tournament and were shipped out West. They were supposed to lose to Memphis and be blown out by Connecticut. To the end of an historic 31-and-8 season, nobody believed.

This year, Mike Anderson knows his team will sneak up on no one.

"The thing I've been telling them is you're going to get everybody's best shot," Anderson said.

"Being the team that we were last year, and the success that we had, people are going to play the team that we were last year," Zaire Taylor said. "It's almost like we have a target on our backs sometimes."

But it is obvious, the Tigers are not the team they were last year. A season ago, Missouri got a combined 31.2 points and 13.3 rebounds from starting forwards Leo Lyons and DeMarre Carroll. Carroll is in the NBA and Lyons is playing professionally in Israel.

"Still the question mark is at the forward position," Anderson said. "I think we've got to establish the guys that are gonna be there, the rotation and those guys, we're gonna count on them."

It is the team's sixth man, Laurence Bowers that may have shown the most ability to cushion the loss of Lyons and Carroll in Missouri's two exhibition wins.

"Right now, the guy that's being consistent is Laurence Bowers," Anderson said. "He continues to do the things coming off the bench which continue to catch the coach's and the staff's eye."

Bowers posted a double-double in the exhibition opener against Truman State, scoring 18 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, including four offensive. He added two blocks and two steals in that game. Against Northwest Missouri State, Bowers again led the Tigers in scoring and rebounding with 13 and nine in a team-high 27 minutes.

Anderson said that once again, "our strength is going to be our bench." To an extent, that should be true. But much as Carroll and Lyons were asked to carry last year's team, Taylor and J.T. Tiller will shoulder the load for the 2009-10 Tigers. In the first half last Friday, with the Tigers struggling to make much of anything, Tiller and Taylor made seven-of-11 shots and scored 19 of the Tigers' 45 first-half points.



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