COLUMBIA — Marcus Denmon can’t wait to dunk.
Last month, during the Missouri men's basketball team's first practice, he grabbed a fistful of rim while dunking home a ball to end the evening's final scrimmage. Before retiring to the locker room after the practice, Denmon said he would have 10 dunks by Missouri’s fifth game.
Arkansas-Fort Smith Lions
at No. 15 Missouri Tigers
WHEN: 7 p.m.
WHERE: Mizzou Arena
RADIO: KTGR/1580 AM
TV: Fox Sports Network Midwest
Arkansas-Fort Smith is entering its second season of NCAA Division II basketball. The Lions went 9-18 in their inaugural Division II season. Currently, the team is 0-2 in exhibition games, losing to Missouri State 81-66 and to University of Tulsa 91-67.
- Josh Simmons, 6-foot-5 senior guard, averaged 15.4 points per game last season
- LaDustin Williams, 6-foot-1 senior guard, averaged 14.2 points per game last season
- Chris Williams, 6-foot-5 senior forward, averaged 11 points and 6.7 rebounds last season
“I was just playing,” Denmon said on Thursday. “I’ll probably have a couple.”
The junior guard will be searching for his first slam of the season Friday night against Arkansas-Fort Smith. The 7 p.m. game marks Missouri’s second and final exhibition match before the team starts regular season play against Western Illinois.
Currently, Denmon is dunk-less. A strained right shoulder kept him on the bench during the first exhibition game, a 114-60 victory over NAIA opponent Harris-Stowe.
The strain, which Denmon said is a nuisance similar to a sprained ankle, occurred last week when he dove to the floor for a loose ball during practice. Since the minor injury came the day before the Harris-Stowe game, coach Mike Anderson kept the 6-foot-3 Kansas City native out of the game as a precaution.
On Wednesday, Denmon said his shoulder was still somewhat sore, but nothing he couldn’t play through. Playing with a twinge of pain is better than taking in another game from the sideline.
“Being that they got a convincing win they made it easy for me, but it’s always tough watching teammates play when you’ve been working hard all summer,” Denmon said.
Denmon has grown accustomed to playing with a non-cooperative body over the course of his Missouri basketball career. As a freshman, he played with a fracture in his left kneecap. The knee was surgically repaired the following the offseason, but effects still lingered throughout his sophomore year. That season, he averaged slightly more than 10 points per game.
“I didn’t know it was going to take as much time to get back,” Denmon said. “I really was an explosive player in high school, and I feel that it’s back now. I look forward to really showing the fans some of my explosiveness this year.”
Explosiveness is a word that comes up a lot when talk turns to the subject of a healthy Denmon.
“He’s come back with a lot of confidence this year. Having to play a year with a repaired knee, so to speak, but I think now he’s got that explosiveness back,” Anderson said.
Denmon hopes to show fans the same power he displayed during the team’s first practice. While he realizes he might not rack up 10 dunks before Missouri’s fifth game, he now has a more realistic goal in mind.
“I had like one dunk last year. I’m going to get double digit dunks this year,” he said.