Tigers' Ratliffe has reason to impress against Old Dominion

Thursday, December 30, 2010 | 10:47 p.m. CST; updated 10:54 a.m. CST, Friday, December 31, 2010
Missouri junior forward Ricardo Ratliffe shoots over Old Dominion forward Keyon Carter in Thursday night's Tigers victory.

COLUMBIA — Missouri junior forward Ricardo Ratliffe was reminded of home during Thursday night’s game against Old Dominion.

Ratliffe grew up in Hampton, Va., which is 20 miles from Norfolk, Va., home of Old Dominion. Ratliffe’s cousin, Dimitri Batten, is redshirting this season as a freshman guard for Old Dominion. In addition to Batten, Ratliffe’s high school coach in his senior season at Kecoughtan High School, Joel Hines, is the current director of basketball operations at Old Dominion.

Ratliffe made sure he impressed his cousin and former coach with several big plays in Missouri’s 81-58 victory over the Monarchs at Mizzou Arena, and finished with 10 points and four rebounds.

With Missouri leading 30-24 in the first half, Missouri’s Marcus Denmon missed a 3-pointer. Ratliffe muscled past three Monarchs players to get the rebound and lay it in for an easy basket. Afterward, Old Dominion called a timeout, and Ratliffe flexed his arms while glancing toward the Monarchs' bench.

Earlier in the night, during team warmups, Ratliffe talked with Batten and Hines, recalling highlights from Ratliffe’s high school career and discussing how Ratliffe and Batten are adjusting to their new schools.

“In high school, he was our best player and we heavily depended on him,” Hines said. “But here, he’s one of many good players. This is a different setting, a different level, so he’s not going to dominate a game like he did in high school. But he’s still a good player, to come in from high school to junior college to Division I and start, it shows how good he is."

But when it came time for tip-off, Ratliffe said it was simply about Mizzou vs. Old Dominion and that his personal ties take a back seat until he arrives back home in Virginia once the season is over.

“I know he’s my cousin and all, but I was hoping he wouldn’t have a good game because it’s my team going against him,” Batten joked. “I used to play against him, so that’s stuff I’m used to seeing. He’s gotten much better though, much stronger too.”

Old Dominion coach Blaine Taylor was the second coach to offer Ratliffe a scholarship when Ratliffe was a sophomore in high school.

"I was considering them for a while my sophomore and junior year,” Ratliffe said before the game. “But as bigger schools came along, I started looking at those just simply because they’re a mid-major and I didn’t want to be that close to home.”

Hines said he was proud to see his former player doing so well.

“Anytime you coach a player, and you see him do well on this level, it’s going to mean a lot to you,” Hines said. “Even though I just had him for one year, it’s always special.”

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