COLUMBIA — Long before the start of the Missouri men’s basketball game on Saturday, coach Mike Anderson's favorite point guard was hard at work.
“She’s always gonna be my point guard because she points out every damn thing I do wrong,” Anderson said.
Saturday was a busy day for Marcheita Anderson. Before the Missouri men’s basketball team defeated Presbyterian 70-55, the wife of Missouri's coach hosted her fifth annual Hoops 101 event, a women’s brunch that benefits the Columbia Boys and Girls Club.
At 10 a.m., women began filtering into an elegant dining hall nestled inside Mizzou Arena. Vases holding decorative black and gold bulbs were centered on the circular tables. Hugs and conversation were shared over brunch and Bloody Marys.
“A lot of these women we’ve known for years,” said Kim Brucks, speaking for her table of friends.
Brucks works as a coordinator at University Hospital. As a member of Women’s Connection, an organization run through the Missouri Athletics Department, she has attended Hoops 101 and other similar presentations since joining the group eight years ago. The presentations are designed to give members of the Women's Connection an inside look at the operations of Missouri teams.
Not all Women’s Connection members work for the university. Some are retired. Some sell insurance. All are linked by their passion for Missouri athletics.
Marcheita Anderson arrived fashionably late, wearing a scarf that displayed a Tiger logo.
“Where’s my husband?” she asked.
She dug in her purse and found her cell phone as she moved into the corner of the room. It didn’t take long for her husband to answer.
Less than half an hour later, Mike Anderson appeared, dressed in gray sweat pants and a matching sweatshirt. He had been driving home from his team’s morning walkthrough but turned around after his wife called.
“As I get prepared for the game, I’m focused in. The only person that could pull off getting me up there is that old girl right there,” Mike Anderson said, pointing to his wife.
He quickly remembered he was speaking in front of 45 women, trading “old girl” for “young thing,” to stay in the good graces of the crowd.
“I’m always in trouble,” Mike Anderson joked.
After the coach addressed the women, he jogged through the doors at the back of the dining room. It was Marcheita Anderson’s turn to speak. She cycled through the team’s roster, speaking briefly about every player.
Then came the questions.
The women peppered her with questions on topics ranging from her family to certain players. Some of the tougher questions were the same ones Mike Anderson would hear in a postgame press conference.
“All the women I know, I’ve been doing this for five years now, ask good questions, ask tough questions,” Marcheita Anderson said. “They’re a little different than men are.”
The difference, Marcheita Anderson thinks, is that women see the game with a mother’s heart.
“I think they look at the guys and see the expressions on their faces. I think they’re like me,” she said.
First came a question about Mike Anderson removing his jacket when he gets upset in a game.
“I had to start buying him longer shirts so they wouldn’t come untucked,” Marcheita Anderson answered.
Next came questions about her own emotions during a game.
“I’m bad y’all. I just try to keep my language clean. It’s not me. It’s my alter ego. I’m gonna have to give her a name,” she said.
The question-and-answer session continued, and Marcheita Anderson answered all but one.
“Why didn’t John Underwood dress out last game?” a woman toward the front of the room asked (Underwood sat out for violating an unspecified team rule).
“Next question,” Marcheita Anderson replied to a chorus of laughter.
Like any good point guard, she knows when to pass.