COLUMBIA - For a while, Missouri men's basketball coach Mike Anderson just stood there as his players took their seats on the bench. His body still as a statue. Hands tucked into his pockets under his suit jacket. Eyes pointed down at his players like a man glaring down at his dog that just relieved itself inside the house.
And then the barking started. But it came from Anderson.
Anderson took his right hand out of his pocket and flung it forward violently, beginning a minute-plus long scolding during a timeout that made it clear his players would be in the doghouse if they didn’t clean up their mess on the court.
Anderson’s team was losing 6-0 to UMKC and had missed all nine of its shots leading up to the game’s first timeout Wednesday night. The Tigers quickly got it together. They went on an 18-0 run after the timeout and won 91-57 in front of 7,638 at Mizzou Arena.
But they had to endure one of Anderson’s all but comforting lectures to get there.
“It’s something you don’t really want to hear,” senior Keith Ramsey said. “You’ve just got to take it and go out there and play. It kind of motivates you, if you’re man enough to take it. I mean, it could put you down. I don’t think it affects nobody on our team. You just go out there and listen to it, and go do what he says.”
Before they even get back to the bench, Missouri’s players can tell if Anderson is about to unleash one on them.
“He won’t come straight to the huddle (when he’s mad),” senior J.T. Tiller said. “Once you’ve got a timeout, you’ve got to walk past him and you see his facial expression. He won’t come to the huddle right away. He lets the suspense build a little bit, then he comes and gives it to us.”
Not all at once, though. Anderson yells in short, quick fragments, pausing after each one to let his words sink in.
“You’ve got to listen to what he says and not how he says it,” Tiller said.
But there’s more to the presentation than words. Anderson periodically whips his hands around like a furiously rushed choir conductor.
“He’s a body language type of guy,” Ramsey said. “Even if you can’t hear him when you’re on the court, you know what he’s saying with his hands.”
And even if Missouri’s players want to fix their eyes on the floor as they're scolded, Anderson makes them look at him.
“He definitely calls our name, tells us to look up and gives us a good tongue-lashing,” Tiller said. “It’s kind of hard to when you know you’re not playing your best.”
Once the lecturing is over, Anderson shows a bit of a soft spot.
“After he gets on to you, he’ll tell you, ‘Don’t worry about it. Go out there and make up for it on defense,’” Ramsey said. “He makes you feel better after he gets on to you.”
But when the Tigers don’t play like they’re trained, they just want to get back to the court and obey their orders.
“You never know what’s going on in his head,” Tiller said. “You’re just trying not to piss him off any more than he already is.”