Shorthanded Tigers lose

Wednesday, January 30, 2008 | 11:19 p.m. CST; updated 8:55 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Susan Sczepanski holds season tickets for the Missouri men’s basketball games, and each time the Tigers scored Wednesday night, she cheered and punched the air.

Sczepanski was one of the many fans who turned out at Mizzou Arena to support a men’s basketball team dogged by recent troubles. The team, shorthanded after coach Mike Anderson suspended five players Tuesday, lost 66-62 to Nebraska.

“It hasn’t stopped the true fans,” Sczepanski said. “I support the coach 100 percent.”

But she said she thought the suspensions were taking a toll on the team.

“They’re being affected,” Sczepanski said. “But they’re giving it every effort. I’m very impressed with how they’re playing so far.”

Part-time arena employee Chris Walthall agreed.

“I think they’ll be inspired to play well,” she said. “(Coach Anderson) made a good call. I’m sure it was a difficult call. I’d do the same to my kid.”

But while support for the coach was strong, suspended players Marshall Brown, Darryl Butterfield, Jason Horton and Leo Lyons were not so fortunate.

At halftime the suspended players, except for Stefhon Hannah, dressed in suits and dress shirts instead of uniforms, followed behind the other players as the team left the court. There was audible booing from the student section.

“It messes the game up,” said Leland Harvey, an arena custodian, of the offending players’ actions. “And it makes us look bad at the same time.”

From her seat on the Tiger Terrace, Marva Sartwell said she thought Anderson did what he had to do.

“If they broke the rules, there should be consequences,” Sartwell said. “I think it took guts. If (Anderson’s) not going to enforce the rules, he might as well not have any.”

MU student Sam Waters also said he considered the benching to be fair and appreciated the active players’ response.

“The younger players are stepping up,” he said. “They knew they had to step up.”

— Missourian reporter Andrew DeWitt contributed to this report.

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