COLUMBIA — Imagine hearing the buzz of the florescent lights, the squeak of rubber on hardwood, the slap and thud of a basketball. Imagine hearing all that at a practice, except for voices.
"I really thought hard about doing this one day," Missouri men's basketball coach Frank Haith said. "No one would talk (during practice). No one would say a word. So they knew how important it was to communicate, and I've threatened them with that."
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Haith said his younger players are too quiet on the court, and he would like to see them improve their communication skills. He said talking, especially on defense where players can call out rotations and screens, is vital to making the Tigers a strong team.
Webster Negus-Chan is one player Haith wants to see talk more. He likes how the freshman can run and said he wins all the team sprints. He likes how well he can pass for a 6-foot-7 player and said he has a good feel for the game. Although Negus-Chan knows how to crack jokes on the court, he is not a very loud player.
Negus-Chan describes himself as a more laid-back, quiet person, which he said has made him a target for his coaches.
Haith is not the only one trying to increase the interaction among his players. Senior Laurence Bowers is one of the most vocal players on the team.
Even when Bowers was hurt, Haith said his "infectious enthusiasm" was a large part of last year's 30-5 season.
Bowers, who usually leads the post-practice stretching, now makes Negus-Chan do it in an effort to get him heard.
"We've been telling him, 'we know you're a shy guy, but if you talk, we're going to win,'" Bowers said. "You couldn't hear him say nothing at first, but now he's more vocal."
Haith said the more talkative the player, the better player and teammate he will be. He pointed to former Jayhawk and current Celtics forward Paul Pierce.
"The other night, I was watching the Heat game, and they mic'd up Paul Pierce. He is constantly talking to his teammates. The whole game," Haith said. "When you do that, you're diving into your teammates. If you don't talk, you're putting pressure on yourself."
Negus-Chan said he's going to have to work on being more chatty if he wants to play in the NBA like Pierce.
"That's how it is in the NBA, everybody's talking," Negus-Chan said. "In order to get there, I have to talk."
Haith said he is stressing the importance of communication whenever he can — after all, championships aren't won in silent arenas.