Missouri will miss her presence, stalking the sideline and demanding order from her players.
The Tigers must face Colorado without coach Cindy Stein.
Stein is not traveling to Boulder with the team because her father is ill. Stein is visiting him in her hometown of Peoria, Ill.
Tonight, associate head coach Betsy Yonkman will take control of the sidelines for Missouri (7-13, 1-8 Big 12 Conference) when it takes on Colorado (8-12, 1-8) at 8 in Boulder.
Neither Yonkman nor assistant coach Craig Wiginton are strangers to coaching this Missouri team.
Yonkman is in her fourth season with the Tigers. Before coming to Missouri, she was an assistant under C. Vivian Stringer at Rutgers for six seasons.
This is Wiginton’s second season at Missouri. He coached Southern Nazerene University for seven seasons.
Wiginton said the Tigers are finding it difficult to keep their concentration when the game is not progressing the way they want it to.
“The first thing that we talked about, and one thing that is real, real important for us right now, is narrowing our focus,” Wiginton said.
The Tigers have lost eight straight after winning their first Big 12 game against Oklahoma State on Jan. 5, and they are on the verge of tying the school’s longest losing streak at 10.
“There’s a lot of things for us that we can get better at, but I think narrowing our focus toward just doing the very same things we’ve worked on all year,” Wiginton said. “But we’ve just got to do them harder.”
This season, Colorado’s lone conference win came against the Tigers.
The Buffaloes handed Missouri a 56-51 loss in Columbia on Jan. 18. The Tigers committed a season-high 29 turnovers.
“Our inability to take care of the basketball cost us the ball game,” Wiginton said.
Colorado coach Ceal Barry said the Buffaloes faced a formidable Missouri opponent in Columbia.
“I think their defense generates their offense a lot,” Beal said.
“When they’re on their game, they’re really getting out pressuring the ball, getting in the passing lanes, switching screens and really doing a nice job on the defensive end of the floor. It seems to me that’s where their program starts is with their defense.”
The Tigers stole the ball five times and blocked four shots in the first half against Colorado.
Missouri was up 28-20 at halftime, but its defense could not hold the lead.
The biggest obstacle for the Tigers is winning in the Coors Events Center.
The Tigers’ most recent victory in Boulder on Feb. 7, 1990, by a score of 58-55. The Buffaloes have won their past 14 at home against Missouri.
“That’s a big key for us is putting together a focus and intensity level for 40 minutes that will allow us to be successful on both ends of the floor,” Wiginton said.
“We’ve got to finish.”
For now, Missouri will have to do it without Stein. She is expected to return for Saturday’s home game against Texas A&M.