Defense key for Missouri

Tigers seeks to limit Davidson’s jump shot opportunities.
Friday, November 19, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:27 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

It’s going to be a long November for Davidson College.

The Wildcats’ basketball team will play Duke, St. Joseph’s, Massachusetts and Georgetown. Davidson is hoping to start its tough month, by giving Missouri a tough game.

Davidson opens its season against the Tigers (2-0) at 7 tonight at Paige Sports Arena.

“Our players progress from experience,” Davidson coach Bob McKillop said. “I think playing tough games makes us a better team, and it puts us in a better position later in the year. We’re realistic and we know the NCAA isn’t going to give teams from the Southern Conference a lot of at-large tournament bids.”

The game is a break for Missouri from the Guardians Classic tournament, which picks up again on Tuesday in Kansas City when the Tigers take on Creighton in the second semifinal.

Davidson is not an opponent Missouri can afford to look past. Tigers coach Quin Snyder said his team should expect to work hard tonight.

“I would be careful using it as a warm up,” Snyder said. “It’s almost a singular game to take and put blinders on. Davidson is used to playing on the road against major conferences. They’re not only expecting to be in a competitive game but winning that game.” ranked the Wildcats No. 12 in its preseason poll of mid-major conference teams. Davidson won a share of the Southern Conference regular season title last year, and returns four of last season’s starters.

“(Davidson) will make you work defensively,” Snyder said. “They’ll be a very sound team defensively. They’ll try to be more solid and presumably try to control the game more.”

Missouri had problems against Brown’s zone defense Monday. Davidson has traditionally used a man-to-man defense, but McKillop didn’t rule out using a zone to fluster the Tigers.

“We’re not averse to running a zone defense,” McKillop said.

“We like to run man-to-man. We’re good at it. We’re willing to make adjustments, but man-to-man is our bread and butter.”

The player that might give Missouri matchup problems is senior forward Logan Kosmalski.

Kosmalski is no stranger to Big 12 Conference play. He transferred to Davidson in 2002 after playing two seasons for Baylor.

He likes to step outside and shoot from 15-foot range, a tactic Missouri has struggled to defend.

Kosmalski has looked sharp. He scored 23 points on 10-of-12 shooting in Davidson’s 94-66 exhibition victory against St. Francis Xavier on Nov. 6.

Missouri has generally done a poor job defending the perimeter this season but started to improve in the second half against Houston on Tuesday.

The Tigers allowed Houston to shoot 71 percent from behind the 3-point line in the first half but forced the Cougars to go 1-for-8 on 3-pointers in the second.

Davidson shot 55 percent from behind the arc against St. Francis Xavier.

“I think our communication just has to improve on the defensive end,” Snyder said. “That’s something we just have to get better at.”

Missouri also needs to improve on turnovers. The Tigers have 43 turnovers in two games.

“When we make mistakes we tend to let it get to us,” Snyder said. “We can’t let that happen. We’re young but capable of avoiding those problems.”

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