Missouri the right fit for Mike Anderson

Tuesday, April 7, 2009 | 9:04 p.m. CDT; updated 11:20 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, April 7, 2009

COLUMBIA — Missouri guard Zaire Taylor was watching ESPN when the news came up on the screen that Mike Anderson had agreed to continue coaching the Tigers men's basketball team for the next seven years.

Taylor said he hasn't stopped smiling since. Shortly after seeing the news, he called his coach.

"He just said thanks," Anderson recalled. "And he said ‘You had me a little worried’, and I said, ‘Really, why would you think that?’

Taylor wasn't the only one who couldn't help being a little concerned. Kim English said he didn't think Anderson would leave, but he knew the extra money that Georgia and other football schools in the South had to offer might be tempting.

"I guess he made us all sweat a little bit, but we're happy he's staying," English said. "We're just excited."

Tiger guards J.T. Tiller and Miguel Paul both said they were confident the bond between the coach and his team was too strong for him to consider leaving. Paul said his mom called him after hearing reports that Georgia offered him a contract worth more than $2 million. She suggested that he should try to find out if other schools would be interested in him, if he wanted to transfer.

"I told my mom, ‘I don’t need to do anything, coach ain’t going anywhere," Paul said.

He was right. Last Tuesday, the 2009 Clair Bee Coach of the year, and the National Basketball Association Co-Coach of the Year agreed to a  seven-year contract that will give him a guaranteed $1.35 million per year.

"I think sometimes it’s not all about money," Anderson told reporters Tuesday at Mizzou Arena. "Money helps, ain’t no question about that. But there’s a lot more factors to it, I think, than just money. I think my faith helped me in that process."

After setting the school record with 31 wins and advancing all the way to Elite Eight, Anderson and his players said the foundation has been laid for a successful program at Missouri. It's that blueprint and a certain level of comfort that kept Anderson and his family in Columbia.

Shortly after making his decision, he traveled to Detroit to coach the Hershey's All-Star Game with his mentor and former coach Nolan Richardson. While he was there, he attended the Final Four at Ford Field.

Anderson said throughout his coaching career, he has generally stopped watching basketball after his season ends. This year, he was obligated to watch. But in yet another example of how the team takes on the personality of its coach, several Missouri players said they didn't watch any games over the weekend.

"The game was played and we lost so you can’t say we were supposed to be there," Taylor said. "But I just know it was the first year I hadn’t watched the championship."

Even though the Tigers weren't in the game, three players made an appearance after Monday night's national championship in CBS' "One Shining Moment." The annual NCAA tournament highlight reel featured Marcus Denmon's 65-foot shot against Memphis, DeMarre Carroll diving for a ball and later beating his chest, and two images of Tiller.

"I watched it," said Tiller, who will be Missouri's only fourth-year senior next season. "I had a good one with Coach A, and then a not-so-good one putting my jersey over my face. It was just an honor to actually make the video."

With Anderson's contract taken care of, the Tigers can get back to concentrating on putting in the work that will get them onto next year's "One Shining Moment." After more than a week of rest, the team went back to work Tuesday for regular practices that are allowed up until April 15.

"There's been some great tradition here," Anderson said. "That being said, I want to see if we can take it to another level. I really, really do."

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