Tigers show preseason glitches

Sunday, October 24, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:26 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 8, 2008

It was hard for Quin Snyder to find anything to get excited about as he watched his team scrimmage.

Snyder, the Missouri men’s basketball coach, played the role of spectator while assistant coaches Melvin Watkins and Jeff Meyer did the coaching during the Black and Gold game at Paige Sports Arena on Saturday.

Black won the 20-minute scrimmage 31-26.

“There’s lots of things we need to do better, no question about that,” Snyder said. “We’re not there defensively either. I think it will be good to try to figure out, rotation-wise, from this scrimmage and some others kind of where guys are.”

Snyder said the second-half play of freshman point guard Jason Horton was an example of how the Tigers need to improve.

“I didn’t think Jason was real good tonight,” Snyder said. “He was loose with the ball and that’s a big problem. We can’t turn the ball over.”

After starting off strong with the first points in the game, Horton got sloppy in the second half, turning over the ball to the Black team’s senior Jason Conley and sophomore Spencer Laurie, sparking a 14-0 run that gave the Black team the lead for good. The run featured several fast breaks by the Black team and big dunks by junior Jimmy McKinney and Conley.

Horton, who scored five points for the Gold team, said there is definitely room for improvement in his game.

“I felt I could do better, a lot better, but that’s practice,” Horton said. “There’s just been a week of practice.”

The Tigers’ big men also looked dismal with junior Kevin Young, freshmen Marshall Brown and Kalen Grimes and junior Jeffrey Ferguson combining for seven points, seven rebounds and four turnovers. Sophomore Linas Kleiza scored nine and pulled down six rebounds but had four turnovers.

Although Grimes didn’t shine on the offensive side of the court, he recorded four blocks, two consecutively.

Early in the second half, McKinney drove to the basket only to have Grimes swat his layup. The ball bounced directly to Young who went up for the dunk and Grimes stuffed him.

Snyder said he saw something in the freshman Grimes that he didn’t see out of the rest of the Gold team.

“I thought Kalen played with energy,” Snyder said. “He made a few good plays and I liked that a lot.”

Snyder said the best play he saw from Grimes all night was not one of his blocks but a kickout to Thomas Gardner that got the Gold team going in the first half.

“That type of unselfish play, I think, is good to see,” Snyder said. “I guess we need to train ourselves to do that even more.”

Grimes said he played to the best of his ability and he was glad to show his coaches and teammates some of what he could do.

“I was trying to give it every single bit I had,” Grimes said.

Another player that Snyder said stood out was Jason Conley. Conley led all scorers with 13.

He said lowered expectations for the Tigers’ season make play easier.

“I feel a lot more comfortable this year than I did last year,” Conley said. “When you’re ranked No. 3 in the country and you’re coming in, it can be kind of tough at times but now we’re not thinking about that.

“We’re not thinking about where we’re ranked. All we’re thinking about is what can we do to be the best team that we can be.”

McKinney also had a good night with 10 points hitting 4-of-8 from the field and sinking both of his free throws.

Most of his scoring came from drives to the basket while playing shooting guard. When McKinney played point, it was rare to see him drive to the basket. Snyder said playing in the two spot allows McKinney to attack more.

“I think the biggest thing for him is the ability to not think about a lot of things and to think about attacking,” Snyder said. “When he’s attacking, which doesn’t always mean for his shot, but he helps make other guys better.”

McKinney said he is relieved to not to be playing point anymore and is reluctant to be put in the lead position again. McKinney did run point a few minutes in the second half to give Laurie a break but he didn’t like it.

“When coach told me ‘Jimmy you’re running point guard’,” McKinney said. “I just like took a deep breath like ‘Man, I’m not going back so don’t get comfortable,’”

Despite good performances by some of his players, Snyder was not impressed with the team as a whole.

He said some of the problem was fatigue and said that would pass with practice.

“We got to be realistic about where we are,” Snyder said. “I liked us more in practice than I did tonight. Some of that’s the lights coming on and the first time really playing in front of any type of crowd.”

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