Mike Anderson and the Missouri men's basketball team have been cutting it close.
In the team's last three games (2-1), the Tigers have gone to overtime twice and been given a scare by an inferior team.
At this point, the "fastest 40 minutes in basketball" appears to be a fast paced 30 minutes, followed by 10 minutes of jogging and light calisthenics.
The Tigers entered this season with high expectations and a newfound national profile. The Tigers were ranked No. 15 in the ESPN/USA Today preseason poll, and while their ranking has improved on the merit of a 7-1 record, a team with those kinds of expectations should probably not be taken to the brink by a team from Western Illinois.
The argument could be made that the cardiac cats are winning while the players figure out their roles. The Tigers do have five newcomers this year, and three are seeing lots of minutes this season.
But the counter argument is that the Tigers, despite the preseason expectations and a heralded recruiting class, are not an elite team this year. Eight games in — a quarter of the way through the regular season — the Tigers appear disjointed and confused. Those qualities should be embodied by the opponent, knocked silly by Anderson's full-court defensive scheme, not Missouri.
Big 12 Conference play starts after the new year. A strong Illinois team beckons on Dec. 22. The Tigers have a few easy targets in the meantime, giving them plenty of time to figure out their offensive and defensive dilemmas on the fly, but if the Tigers continue to play as they have so far this season against a conference schedule that includes teams like Kansas, Kansas State, Texas and Baylor, it will be a long and disappointing season in Missouri.
So, fans, are you concerned with the basketball team's start to the season?