COLUMBIA — After giving up 100 points in two of the past four games, the Missouri men’s basketball team is faced with a question.
Where has all the defense gone?
In the weekly Big 12 Conference teleconference, Missouri coach Mike Anderson said a lack of urgency and shuffling personnel are to blame for the Tigers’ recent defensive woes. On Saturday, Missouri couldn’t hold a 13-point lead and lost 100-89 at Baylor. Two weeks earlier, the Tigers lost 100-63 at Kansas State.
“There’s got to be a sense of urgency on defense,” Anderson said. “Defense is that second and third and fourth effort. We just keep shuffling around trying to get the right combination of guys that can give us that.”
Part of the problem, Anderson said, is that Kalen Grimes and Stefhon Hannah are no longer with the team. Grimes, last year’s starting center, was dismissed last summer after he was charged with striking a man with the butt end of a shotgun in St. Louis. Hannah was leading the Tigers in scoring, assists and steals this season until a fight on Jan. 27 left him with a broken jaw and an arrest for third-degree assault. He was dismissed from the team Feb. 12 for breaking team rules.
“I think when you guard people, you’ve got a front line and you’ve got a second line,” Anderson said. “Like I said, our team has changed. So now you’ve got young guys out there and they are learning on the fly. It’s a process. And I think with these guys it’s a process. But Stefhon keyed a lot of things we did defensively, and he’s not here anymore.”
In Hannah’s absence, guards Keon Lawrence and J.T. Tiller have seen increases in playing time. Without Grimes, Missouri’s already thin front court is relying heavily on forward DeMarre Carroll, who has been playing through pain in his right ankle for most of the season.
“The guys are working hard. I think that’s one thing, they are working hard,” Anderson said. “And I think we are limited in some areas, there is no question about it. But one they do, they’re trying.”
Anderson said that the team has not gotten away from the defensive-oriented play that he has been trying to instill in his players since arriving before last season.
“I don’t think we’ve gotten away from it,” Anderson said. “Baylor is an explosive team. I thought the Kansas State game was just one where we didn’t show up and they just had one of those games. But I thought this particular game (against Baylor), it was an up-tempo game and of course they just like to score. I think we can play a lot better defense then we did in this particular game, but I don’t think we have gotten away (from our style).”