Tigers look to guards for leadership

Wednesday, January 14, 2009 | 11:52 p.m. CST
MU forward Leo Lyons looks on from the bench in the second half of the Tigers' 107-62 victory over the Colorado Buffaloes on Jan. 14. Lyons sat out to serve a suspension after he was arrested and charged with a traffic violation and failure to pay a traffic fine from 2006.

COLUMBIA — Missouri coach Mike Anderson expects his guards to be among his team's leaders.

Even though senior forwards DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons lead the team in scoring, Anderson said he would like his guards to be the vocal leaders on the floor.

"All the teams out there that I’ve ever coached or ever been a part of, even when I played, I thought your guards were the guys that were kind of your leaders," Anderson said Monday. "Especially on the floor, because to me they are an extension of your coach."

Anderson was frustrated with his team's lack of energy in its 56-51 loss to Nebraska in Lincoln on Saturday. Missouri forced only 11 turnovers and found themselves playing a slow pace that favored the Huskers. That wasn't the case in Wednesday night's 105-62 thrashing of 8-7 Colorado at Mizzou Arena.

"I think, if you watch our basketball team, when our energy is up, it’s when our guards are really getting after it," Anderson said. "They’re setting the tone, and so I think from that standpoint it’s important to get those guys a little bit more vocal."

On Wednesday, the Tigers forced 26 turnovers and made it difficult for the Buffaloes to even cross halfcourt. Anderson said the junior guards, J.T. Tiller and Zaire Taylor were a lot more vocal against the team Big 12 coaches picked to finish last in the conference's preseason poll.

Starting point guard Zaire Taylor, who has nearly three assists for every turnover this season, efficiently led the Tigers' offense with six assists and just one turnover against the Buffaloes. Even when he was on the bench with foul trouble in the first half, Taylor was always the first to get up and greet his teammates as they joined the huddle for timeouts.

"The lines of communication, we were talking a lot more," Anderson said following the game.


Freshman Marcus Denmon, who scored 13 points against Colorado, said Anderson even expects the three freshmen guards to be leaders at times. Kim English, who spent last season at Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts, isn't shy about talking to his teammates while he's on the court. He scored 12 points in his first career start Wednesday night. Point guard Miguel Paul added eight points off the bench.

"Coach always tells us that a lot of the guards need to be more vocal," Denmon said Monday. "It’s not that we don’t like to talk, we just need to be more vocal in a positive manner on the court."

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