MU basketball going international

With loss of big men, Missouri looks to ‘hockey’-style offense.
Thursday, October 28, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:59 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 10, 2008

KANSAS CITY — Missouri coach Quin Snyder has heard the international style of basketball likened to hockey but said he didn’t know enough about hockey to take the analogy any further.

Although Snyder isn’t accustomed to the sport on ice, he knows basketball and he knows his team.

He made both apparent Wednesday at the Big 12 Conference media day. He eagerly discussed a change in style for Missouri’s upcoming season.

“To me it’s a question of personnel and for us, our personnel is more suited to spacing, and drive and kick, and cutting, than more power basketball,” Snyder said.

In the past, Missouri’s offense revolved around trying to get the ball down low to big men Arthur Johnson and Travon Bryant. Since the Tigers lacked a true point guard, their presence helped break down defenses.

After Johnson and Bryant graduated, the Tigers were left with a lot of inexperience in the post.

Nevertheless, Snyder is quick to point out the versatility of the rest of the squad.

With players like sophomore Linas Kleiza and freshman Marshall Brown, Missouri boasts two players who can shoot on the perimeter and still pound inside.

“(Marshall) is a unique player, that gives us some versatility,” Snyder said. “He has the ability to impact the game in a lot of ways, and has maybe been our best rebounder, though Linas might object to that.”

In Kleiza, Snyder said he has a four player unlike any he has ever had.

“I think a lot of the bigger players overseas learn to play away from the basket at a young age, whether their shooting the ball or passing the ball,” Snyder said. “Linas is a guy who can do something like that.”

Kleiza said Missouri has a lineup loaded with multifaceted athletes. Such capabilities, he said, help create one-on-one mismatches for himself and others.

Snyder realizes this and plans to play to his team’s strengths.

“When you look at our team, you’ve got a number of guys who can put the ball on the floor and that lends itself to on-the-ball screens, hand offs and some of those things that you see a lot more in international games, spreading the court, spacing and shooting the ball,” Snyder said.

This new style of offense should lend itself to more perimeter shooting, and the Tigers won’t be afraid to seize the opportunity.

“We’re not going to apologize for shooting 3s,” senior Jason Conley said. “If your team is good at something why wouldn’t you do it.”

Kleiza echoed this view.

“We are going to be taking some 3s this year, you can be sure about that,” Kleiza said.

Snyder touts the benefits of perimeter shooting but with caution.

“We need guys not only shooting them but making them,” Snyder said. “I don’t know what the exact percentages are, but we had a lot of guys that were below 35 percent last year on the season and those numbers need to be about 35 and pushing 40, certainly as a team.”

The change in style is a trend Snyder has seen throughout basketball, and he isn’t the only one.

“I think we’re learning a lot of things (from the Olympics),” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “I think marketing individuals is bad. Marketing teams is good.

“They’re over there, you know what they’re marketing? They’re marketing fundamentals. On ESPN you don’t see any, ‘everybody touch it on every possession,’ highlights as opposed to seeing a guy running down and dunking one. That takes very little basketball fundamentals.”

PRESEASON HONORS: On Tuesday the conference coaches named Kleiza and junior Jimmy McKinney to the All-Big 12 honorable mention team.

Preseason Player of the Year honors went to Kansas senior Wayne Simien.

Simien, Keith Langford (Kansas), Curtis Stinson (Iowa State), Joey Graham (Oklahoma State) and John Lucas (Oklahoma State) received first team honors.

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