Mizzou Basketball Media Day Coverage

<i>Marcus Denmon meets with the media.</i>

Marcus Denmon meets with the media.

Oct. 12, 2010

Listen To Head Coach Mike Anderson

Photo Gallery

COLUMBIA, Mo. - The Mizzou basketball team hosted its annual media day on Tuesday (Oct. 12) at Mizzou Arena. Head coach Mike Anderson and the student-athletes met with members of the media and discussed the upcoming season and posed for plenty of pictures. Below are quotes from Coach Anderson's press conference and sound bites from players Ricardo Ratliffe, Michael Dixon, Marcus Denmon, Kim English and Phil Pressey.


Head Coach Mike Anderson


Opening Statement...
"It certainly is an exciting time in the year. It's year five for me, in terms of seasons and I'm sure there is a lot of anticipation and a whole lot of expectations in other people's eyes. But no one expects more than me from our team, from our players. With that being said, it's a new year it's a new season and it's a new team. It's a team that's got to search for its identity. A lot has been said about the recruiting class that's coming in here but that's on paper. As I always say, those guys haven't played a single minute, a single second of Division I basketball. So there are a lot of unknowns, even after we've gone through the individual workouts, sessions from late August until right now there are still a lot of question marks. But I'm anxious to get going and that process starts on Friday. The leadership we talk about is so key to any team, and that's something the guys are undertaking, especially the guys coming back like Justin Safford, Kimmie English, Laurence Bowers, Marcus Denmon, Steve Moore, those guys because of their experience being here. It's a big year for those guys so I'm sure they're looking forward to the opportunity to have a chance to lead this team. So far they've taken these guys under their wing and guys are doing what they're supposed to do on and off the court. There are some improvements in a lot of guys in a lot of areas. With that being said, there are a lot of pieces. The thing I said two years ago that I liked about this team is that we have a lot of options. We have some more options this year. We have a lot of pieces to the puzzle we just have to figure out where they fit. One of the pieces of course is Tony Mitchell who is still waiting and hopeful that he will be able to join us, possibly at semester. I won't divulge any more but we're just hopeful. Hopeful that the process will work but I don't think you can worry about what's not taking place. You have to worry about the guys that are here and I'm certainly excited about this group. To me the guys that are going to be key [for us] are the guys that are here already and have been through the wars. They're your key guys. All of those guys are the core guys very much like Leo, DeMarre, and Matt [were two seasons ago]. I just think Tiger Basketball is going to have a tremendously exciting year. I'm not one of those guys that looks ahead, but even in the following year."

On recruits adjusting to Division I basketball...
"I've been thoroughly surprised. Well not surprised, but the worth ethic, you know, some guys come from different environments. You wonder how they will respond to a butt chewing or even getting up at six in the morning, that can alter your schedule right off the bat, but I've been really pleasantly surprised at how guys have just came in and taken on the challenges, following the lead of the other guys. What that does, it makes our workouts, running and conditioning competitive. They're trying to get my attention so with that, every time they have an opportunity to get on that floor they're trying to give everything they've got. So that has been pleasant for me but it doesn't surprise me because that's where the leadership and the ownernship is. [The players] talk outside this arena about the things that are going to take place here. What has to happen for that to take place. That means that they have to work every single day, and I'm one of those coaches that if you come in and give me everything you've got we won't be here long. There are coaches that practice three or four hours, I don't do that, as long as they come in and we get accomplished what we need to. But certain guys, Ricardo [Ratliffe], for a guy that comes in with the accolades he has, one of the best junior college basketball players, his work ethic has been great. In sprints he is outrunning some of the guards so that's good to see. Anything that we're doing he working as hard as he can, if he doesn't understand it, he's asking questions. Phil Pressey and Matt Pressey are the same, and they bring something different to the table."

On his team's ability to defend this season ...


"Well last year we were pretty good defensively. The brand is our defense. It is what we hang our hats on. I thought defensively we did some tremendous things last year because of maybe not having that fire power sort of speed that we had in previous years. I thought our guys did a good job of making adjustments. I made a statement earlier that I don't know what kind of defense team we're going to be, but I do know we have some guys that like to put [shots] up. All of the guys that were leading scorers are coming back. You have to remember, the only way you're going to earn some [playing] time is that you have got to be able to play some defense. So these guys, they know how to play defense, so now it's a matter of getting them willing to really understand their roles with our basketball team. And really as we start on Friday it's wide open. You can sit here, I can sit there and say this guy here is going to be a starter- no, it is wide open right now. And that's why I said there is great competition going on right now amongst our guys. But the guys that have been here and been through the wars, they should have a heads up, but I think we're getting some pretty talented young guys coming in here and they're not in awe, so that's a good thing. People say, `Coach you got a lot of players', that's a good problem to have. We'll figure out the rest in terms of how they fit in and playing time but we'll never lose the thing that's most important. What is that? It's to win games. Play to win."

On the recovery of Justin Safford and Kadeem Green...
"I call them Training Room Charlie's. They stay in there, it's like their names are on the door. I think that's paid off because those guys haven't missed much in terms of what we are doing. The conditioning, they haven't missed any at all. As a matter of fact, you can see the pop that is back with Justin, and his confidence is rising. I'm really happy with Kadeem's progress because an Achilles tendon tear that's pretty major there. But to see him and see the progression is great. They've been involved in all the aspects of what we've been doing and I don't see us holding them back. They are going to continue to improve."

On Justin Safford being the only senior...


"Well Justin's been here for three years. So he has seen the bad, the good, and the real good. So I'm sure he's feeling pretty good to be in this position. But at the same time, his leadership is going to be valuable to our basketball team. You look at our team over the years. The face of the team DeMarre Carroll then J.T. Tiller, so who's going to be that guy? Justin's in a good position, so we'll see what takes place."

On Kim English in a leadership role...
"He wants to be that guy. He's almost tried to be the voice of this basketball team, which isn't bad. I mean he speaks well, he's articulate. He likes himself now, I know that. But you can look at that one of two ways. There's confidence, and there's a guy that is promoting himself. But I think it's more of a thing that he's confident in himself so we're looking at him becoming well rounded. One of the things that he did last year that I didn't particularly like is that he led the team in turnovers. For a guy that's a big guard, he shouldn't have that many. But I think he understands. We did a community service activity last Saturday at Douglass Park, and that gives me a chance to watch these guys and interact with the kids. They have stations, so they're like coaches. So I just sit back and watch. I'm watching Kimmie, of all the guys, he's very vocal, he's got kids running down the middle, going one way, set up a screen, come off their turn and shoot the basketball. I look at him like 'I got you teaching them, but you wouldn't do it.' But what I'm saying is he gets it. I think your junior year that's what you hope for, maturity kicking in and they have a better understanding because a lot of things fall [into place] for those guys. They are the core group. As a basketball group, you want to be those guys. You want to be the guys that coach is counting on. I think that's why he has to continue to work extremely hard."

On if his team is good enough to win the conference...
"That's the goal. Every time we suit it on, number one is to play for the only [championship]. There's only one championship. And hopefully the things that fall in line after that will take a course of their own. But we have a lot of things in front of us that have to happen before then."

On the significance of this junior class...
"It was the first big class that we actually had the chance to go out and select and pick the kids that we thought fit. This next class you want to get even better. In terms of seeing it, I knew it would be better. But I think the guys that really triggered that were the guys that went through the rough times. Those guys went through quite a bit; you talk about Matt [Lawrence] and Leo [Lyons], before I even got here. Then of course you have a guy like DeMarre [Carroll] who might have been the most important guy to that mix. Then obviously J.T. Tiller, who was the first guy I brought here. So those guys are your core guys, and then to bring those guys in, they really had the chance to go at their own pace. They had no pressure on them. I think those guys really started a standard when you talk about that particular class. Now you have the next class to follow up these guys coming in. I'm anxious to see how these guys fit in and what takes place."

On Paul Pressey and recruiting his sons to play for Mizzou...
"When your [college] roommate's kids start playing for you that's hard, that means you're getting up there [in age]. But it's amazing how that full circle goes. I knew these kids before they were even born. Needless to say, they are very good basketball players and good people. I think the happiest parents I've seen were those two. I say that because, I followed these guys. They called me `Uncle Mike'. I had to convince these guys I'm not `Uncle Mike'; this is my job, this is what I do. At the end of the day, they are the two happiest parents because they get to see their kids play together. I know what I'm getting in terms of what kind of kids they are; their character, where they're coming from. And they know what kind of person I'm going to be with their kids. I think for a parent, that's an excellent deal. Paul is like a brother to me, we used to go on vacation together. A lot of people said when DeMarre [Carroll] and Mike Jr. left, `Coach you don't have any family left, now what's going to happen?' Well now I have two more. Those guys are great. They understand me, they understand this program, and they want to take it to higher heights. That's what special about these guys at this point in time. I like them right now, I may not be saying that a month from now. Hopefully they are going to make Tiger Nation feel awful proud."

Ricardo Ratliffe
Junior Forward - Hampton, Va.


On his transition from junior college to Division I:
"I feel like I've gotten a lot faster since I've been here. I am just trying to get in shape. Playing against better guys, I feel like I've gotten better all-around [in my game] since being here these past few months."

On the role he fills for the team:
"Coach Anderson brought me in here to rebound, score on the block and really just get some extra depth. I think I do a pretty good job of bringing that to the table."

Michael Dixon
Sophomore Guard - Kansas City, Mo.


On the importance of the Tigers' depth:
"We were in the top four or five [rankings] in bench scoring in the nation last year, which is pretty good. It really helped us down the stretch. Most of us are back this year that were on the bench last year and I think that we're really deep. We've just got to see what happens, because some of the guys haven't played at this level yet so I don't know yet how they will contribute."

On what the newcomers contribute to the team:
"Phil [Pressey] is kind of like a pistol. He's really explosive, and he gets low to the ground. We go against each other [in practice] almost every day and that's going to make both of us better and make the games easier. Matt [Pressey] is good at coming off screens and things like that, and he has a really good knack for getting open. He's going to have opportunities to get some big 3s for us, because nobody really knows what to expect from him. Ricardo [Ratliffe] is just a monster down low. He has a really good low-post presence and can draw double-teams or even triple-teams. Ricky [Kreklow] is a really good shooter and an underrated passer as well. We have a lot of pieces, and really, the sky is the limit for us."

Marcus Denmon
Junior Guard - Kansas City, Mo.


On the leadership roles the junior class fills:
"It's just something you kind of earn with time. This is my third year here now and it just takes ownership and is a role that you kind of evolve into. We just want to show the younger guys the way. We're a pretty close group. We've been here the longest besides Justin [Safford] and we've gelled with each other through all the ups and downs of the past few seasons."

On replacing the graduated seniors:
"It will be big shoes to fill. Those guys were our leaders last year out on the floor and off the floor too. We're just trying to take on those positions and become leaders. Even Mike Dixon, who was here last year, is out there [leading]. We're just trying to bring the same intensity that those guys brought every day."

On what players have learned from last year's seniors:
"Those guys were kind of the coaches out on the floor for Coach Anderson. They showed a lot of the qualities that he wanted his starting guards to have. Just learning from them every day and practicing against them last year is going to help us this year."

On his outlook for the season:
"All of the returners we have are explosive guys. With that, and then all of the new talent we have coming in, it's really going to be an explosive team."

Kim English
Junior Guard - Baltimore, Md.


On the defensive mindset of the team:
"In some games I could kind of save some [energy] because I knew that I had J.T. [Tiller], Zaire [Taylor] and Keith [Ramsey] back there to clean up anything I might have messed up on. This team is going to be a lot more team-defense oriented. Coach always tells each guy to guard one and a half men [when on the floor], and I think we'll be a really good team unit. I don't think we'll have that one guy that just stands out as a stopper, but it will be fun."


On who the new face of Tiger basketball will be this season:
"Whoever it is, it is. We just really want to play and win. I don't really care who the face is or who is thought of as the face. At the end of the day, it's just about which team has the most points at the end of the game, and that's all I care about."

On the athleticism of the team:
"There are some athletes on this team. When your 5'10" point guard can go between the legs and dunk, that's a pretty athletic team. From top to bottom there are a lot of athletes on this team, so that means that Coach will want us to be even more all over the court wreaking havoc. So it's a blessing but it will be a curse in practice when we don't get to some steals that he thinks we should."

Phil Pressey
Freshman Guard - Dallas, Texas


On his athleticism:
"I'm a passer, so I like to give my teammates the ball and that's what I do. My athleticism can take people by surprise sometimes. It's very sneaky, I guess you could say. We're an up-tempo team and we just get after it, so athleticism is a key part of that."

On his father's relationship with Coach Anderson:
"They talk on and off. My dad will tell me that he speaks to him from time to time. Other than that, I don't know what they talk about. I call him Coach A just like everybody else. I have known him since I can remember. We have pictures from when I was probably six."



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