COLUMBIA— A painter stands at his easel. Brush in hand, the artist goes to work, sloppily splotching colors with no apparent direction. Eventually, an image begins to take shape. By the final stroke, a clear picture emerges. This is the metaphor Missouri men’s basketball coach Mike Anderson uses to describe his team.
“I even told our guys, we talk about the oil painting on the canvas,” Anderson said.
Old Dominion Monarchs (9-2)
at No. 10 Missouri Tigers (12-1)
WHEN: 7 p.m.
WHERE: Mizzou Arena
RADIO: KTGR 100.5 FM/1580 AM
TV: KOMU/Channel 8
When speaking to the media, Anderson’s reference to the painting comes up when the subject turns to the progress of his team. His players hear it too. They can also explain the symbolism that ties basketball with paint brushes.
“Basically you get a whole bunch of guys and all their different games together, all their different personalities, their cities, attitudes, egos, everything. He (Anderson) throws all that onto a canvas. Then, his job, the coaching staff’s job, the team leader's job is to form that into a picture,” junior guard Kim English said.
Earlier this season, there were times when the painting was blurred. Missouri turned the ball over too much, and had trouble keeping opponents’ shooting percentages down. With five newcomers on the team, the players were adjusting to their roles. The colors were present, but the picture wasn’t clear.
“You throw it on there. Now let's clean up some things,” Anderson said.
Missouri has cut down on turnovers and improved its ball movement on offense. Perimeter defense has tightened up, and opponents are finding fewer open shots. The colors on the canvas are beginning to come together, but certain lines still need to be sharpened.
“Now we’ve got to clean up on the rebounding standpoint,” Anderson said.
Rebounds will be especially important for No. 10 Missouri against Old Dominion on Thursday at Mizzou Arena. The Monarchs are gathering nearly six rebounds more per game than the Tigers, and five players on the team are 6 feet, 8 inches or taller.
“It’s a team with size. They attack the glass. They want to slow it down a little bit,” Anderson said.
And if the Monarchs needs any extra motivation against Missouri, their 66-61 loss to the Tigers last season is likely fresh enough to fuel this year's rematch.
“Coach doesn’t like us to talk about revenge, but I really believe in the back of their minds they still have that game from last year, so they’re going to come and try to punch us in the face early,” Laurence Bowers said.
Adding to the drama is Missouri's nonconference home winning streak. The Tigers have not lost to a team outside of the Big 12 at home in 55 games.
“We’ve learned to play with a sense of urgency. We don’t want anybody to upset us in our house," Bowers said.
For Anderson, however, it’s not about the streak. He says he simply wants his team to "get better" every game, as the image on the canvas continually becomes clearer.
“Make it all a painting ... like a masterpiece,” English said.