COLUMBIA — Having the job as the first player off the bench in basketball is no easy task. After all the pregame hoopla has ended and the game is set to tip-off, that player is relegated to the bench for the start of the game. And if one of the starting five doesn’t produce on the court, it’s up to that player to come in and act as a catalyst for a stagnant offense.
For the Missouri women’s basketball team, that job falls to Marissa Scott. But the 6-foot-2 senior forward, said it’s the ideal situation for her.
Kansas State (9-6, 1-0)
at Missouri (10-4, 0-1)
WHEN: 6 p.m.
WHERE: Mizzou Arena
RADIO: KWWC/90.5 FM
TV: Fox Sports Midwest
“I like coming off the bench better,” Scott said. “Because if we aren’t playing well, I can be that spark that gets us going.”
Scott started four games in late December and early January in place of Jessra Johnson, but when her name wasn’t in the starting lineup in a Jan. 5 game against Xavier at Mizzou Arena, Scott gladly took a place on the bench.
Scott said it can be difficult to shoot well after sitting on the bench for several minutes, but she knows she will make a difference with her energy and defensive intensity.
“She’s a really good defensive player,” said Amanda Hanneman, a fellow senior and Scott’s roommate. “Having someone like her come off the bench like she does and give a good spark on the defensive end, it makes us keep a spark on the offensive end to reward her for what she did.”
With Scott’s ability to play four positions on the court, she poses a matchup problem for many opponents.
“She’s very versatile,” Missouri coach Cindy Stein said.
When Scott steps onto the court, her impact has far-reaching effects. In addition to her defensive prowess, Scott shoots an impressive 47 percent from 3-point range. She is only 9-for-19 on the season from behind the arc, but that’s more a testament to her unselfishness than it is to a lack of confidence.
“She has one of the best shot percentages on our team,” Hanneman said. “So I’m not going to say she needs to get in the gym and shoot. She’s one of the best shooters we have, and she just needs to shoot more. She’ll make them.”
“I give her the no pass rule in the paint,” Stein said. “She doesn’t follow it enough though.”
The success Scott enjoys on the court should come as no surprise. She is used to doing well.
An avid bowler, Scott has numerous plaques to highlight her accomplishments. At age 8, Scott bowled a 239.
When she started playing basketball in sixth grade, success was almost certain. She learned the game from her older brother, Devin, who later became an all-conference cross country and track athlete at Ottawa University in Kansas.
“He just played and I always followed in his footsteps,” Scott said. “I started mimicking everything he did.”
Scott learned well, becoming a legend at her high school. She holds records at Iola High School for blocked shots in a season (which she set as a freshman), assists in a season and assists in a career. As an all-state honorable mention selection her senior year, she led her team to a 24-2 record and a Class 4A state championship.
Scott also excelled in volleyball where she led her team in kills as a sophomore and spearheaded a conference championship as a senior. She would have more to add to the long list of accolades, but she tore all of the ligaments in her right thumb during an AAU basketball national tournament and missed her junior year of volleyball because of surgery.
“I was more invested in basketball anyways,” Scott said. “It worked out obviously for me.”
There’s more. As a sophomore, Scott broke the school record for the javelin throw.
“Everybody wanted me to go out for track,” Scott said. “We were a small school anyways, so they needed all the people they could. They wanted me to go out so I was like ‘OK fine, but I’m not running.’ And they tried and tried and I refused to run in practice. I just threw the javelin. I did big things.”
And Scott is trying to do big things at Missouri, too. The Tigers (10-4, 0-1 in the Big 12) head into a pivotal game against Kansas State at 6 p.m. today at Mizzou Arena. And if needed, Scott will be ready to spark life into the Tigers.