Upperclassmen prepare newer Missouri basketball players for Big 12 Tournament

Tuesday, March 8, 2011 | 9:57 p.m. CST
Missouri guard Marcus Denmon drives to the basket against Colorado on Feb. 5, 2011. Missouri won 89-73.

KANSAS CITY — Missouri junior guard Marcus Denmon can still remember the difficulty of adjusting to the postseason.

“I remember from freshman year, all of the different things you have to do at the tournament, from having to be on time, to being at the shoot-around on time since you only have 40 minutes of practice, and just all of the little stuff like that that you have to do to make sure you are ready,” Denmon said on Tuesday, the day before the Missouri men's basketball team opens play in this year's Big 12 Conference Tournament at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

When Denmon was a freshman, the Tigers won the Big 12 tournament championship and made a run to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament. Now, two years later, Denmon, as well as Missouri's other upperclassmen, are giving advice to their younger teammates on how to handle all of the extra things that player's didn't need to deal with during the regular season.

“To be honest, I feel like we’ve done a good job getting the younger guys ready for this,” Denmon said. "We've talked with them about it, and they've been playing all season long, so they're as prepared as they can be."

In order to win the tournament, Missouri will need to win four games in four days, something that no team has accomplished since the league was formed in 1996. The sixth-seeded Tigers begin the tournament with a 8:30 p.m. game Wednesday night against 11th seed Texas Tech.

“They (the older players) just told me to bring my A game, and to just come ready to play,” Missouri forward Ricardo Ratliffe said.

Missouri coach Mike Anderson said that in order for Missouri to be successful, the Tigers will need to rely on players that haven't experienced the postseason. They will be needed to keep the team fresh throughout the tournament.

“The young guys went through the course of the season, and they know that what they bring to the table is important,” Anderson said. "But they have never been in this environment, so I think it’s important for the guys that have been here to show them the way.

"A guy like Ricardo Ratliffe, it's important for him to have his presence known out on the floor whether it's rebounding the basketball, giving us a guy we can go to inside or just playing like a beast. And he's capable of doing that.”

Texas Tech senior forward Mike Singletary said that, like Missouri, Texas Tech’s newcomers will need to adjust to the tournament atmosphere and the grind of playing a game every day.

“Playing back-to-back days like you do in this tournament, that’s a really tough thing to have to do, especially for the new guys,” Singletary said. “It’s tough to go back-to-back nights, but hopefully we can get to that point if we beat Missouri tomorrow.”

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