KANSAS CITY – When the Missouri men’s basketball team took the court Thursday night, it had the support of a group that has been backing the team since the beginning of the season.
Mini-Mizzou is a student pep band that plays for the men’s basketball team. It’s made up of Marching Mizzou members who must audition to make the group that plays at every men's home game, as well as women’s basketball and volleyball games. A select group of Mini-Mizzou members travel with the team to tournaments, including the Big 12 Conference Tournament in Kansas City this weekend.
“We’re staying as long as we keep winning,” freshman trombone player Joey Smith said between playing songs, the circular imprint of his instrument's mouthpiece on his lips.
Mini-Mizzou members Nick Lloyd and Trevor Ramlow, who also play the trombone, are both seniors and said they feel a special connection to this year’s basketball team. They’ve been watching the Tigers for four years and have seen all their ups and downs.
The band members feel a special connection to senior center Steve Moore and senior guard Jarrett Sutton, who both take time to visit the band when they’re sharing the same hotel on road trips.
“At the hotel when there’s nothing to do, when they’re bored, they come and hang out with us,” Smith said.
During Missouri’s game Thursday against Oklahoma State, when Sutton entered the game during the second half, a Mini-Mizzou member screamed out, “Yeeeeeah! Jarrett Sutton!” to the applause of his band mates.
“He’s always talking about how much he loves the band and other sports, as well,” Lloyd said. “He’s a nice guy.”
During the game, Mini-Mizzou did the same arm motions fans do at home games, putting their hands in the air and wiggling their fingers silently when a Missouri player steps to the free-throw line. But when Oklahoma State stepped to the free-throw line, the band’s actions were a little different.
“Hey! Hey! Hey!” Lloyd screamed across the court during the second half to try and distract Oklahoma State’s Brian Williams from making a free throw.
The Missouri basketball players say they appreciate all the support from the band,which fuels them when game time comes.
“Those guys are the main vocal people leading everything,” junior forward Andy Rosburg said.
Junior guard Michael Dixon said he appreciates how Mini-Mizzou plays up-to-date music with a repertoire of songs including Lady Gaga, CeeLo Green and DJ Khaled.
“I think probably a lot of bands don’t do that, and it’s good to see that they’re hip and cool like that,” Dixon said.
For Smith, who is in his first year with Mini-Mizzou, the experience has been “flabbergasting.” He said he’s thoroughly enjoyed getting a free pass to the games and getting seats on the floor at the Sprint Center.
When Friday night comes, they will have a chance to do it all over again. Missouri plays Texas in the semifinals at 9 p.m.