Injury creates lineup questions for Missouri men's basketball team

Monday, December 20, 2010 | 6:12 p.m. CST; updated 11:44 p.m. CST, Monday, December 20, 2010
Freshman guard Phil Pressey attempts to dribble past Presbyterian's Pierre Miller during a game on Dec. 12 at the Mizzou Arena. Pressey will miss the Illinois game and at least two weeks because of a fractured a bone in his right hand.

COLUMBIA — The Missouri men’s basketball team could be in trouble at the point guard position.

After Michael Dixon Jr., the Tigers' regular point guard, was suspended indefinitely on Wednesday for a violation of team rules, freshman Phil Pressey stepped into the role. But during Sunday’s practice, Pressey fractured a bone in his right hand and will be out for a minimum of two weeks.

Now the team prepares for one of its toughest nonconference games with questions about who will step in at one of the most important positions. No. 9 Missouri faces No. 21 Illinois on Wednesday in St. Louis.

“It’s sad,” junior guard Kim English said. “You hope and pray for the best throughout a season. But in the back of your mind, you know that this happens a lot, so you got to prepare for the worst.”

Missouri coach Mike Anderson said Pressey’s injury would have no impact on his decision on lifting Dixon’s suspension. But Dixon’s return would be big for Missouri, since the team would otherwise need to reshuffle its lineup.

Anderson said Dixon is working on some of the tasks he needs to complete before he can play in a game again, and that Dixon still has a couple things to finish up.

“He’s going in the right direction,” Anderson said. “It could be the day before, or a gameday decision.”

If changes are made to the lineup, it won't be new for Missouri. The Tigers have used five different lineups in 11 games this season.

“We have guards that are interchangeable,” junior Marcus Denmon said. “We prepare for these situations in practice. Coach always says that you never know when someone’s going to go down, so everyone needs to be ready to step up. There’s nothing you can do about (the situation), we just got to make the best out of it.”

If Dixon doesn’t play, Anderson said that Denmon or junior guard Matt Pressey are the most likely candidates to step in at point guard. If Denmon were to step in, that would leave his normal spot at shooting guard open, which will likely cause several shuffles in the lineup.

“If (playing point guard) was something that was new to me, it might affect me, but since I do it every day in practice, it’s second nature for me,” Denmon said. “I feel with the way we play, me finding my offense is never going to be a problem.”

In last season’s game against Illinois, Missouri was in a similar situation with former guard Zaire Taylor out with a cold. That resulted in a start for Dixon, who scored a season-high 16 points in Missouri’s 81-68 win.

In the meantime, until Anderson makes his decision, the Missouri players are hoping that Dixon will be playing against Illinois, and that lineup shuffles won't be necessary.

“The best case would be that he does play against Illinois,” Denmon said.

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Drew Officer December 20, 2010 | 6:35 p.m.

heh heh...the old cat-and-mouse game. too bad that english is in such a shooting slump, but this squad appears to be plenty strong, in spite of the low spots being encountered.

never look back! right, coach?


Drew Officer
San Antonio

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