With almost a week to recover from the 32-point loss to Illinois last Wednesday, forward Marshall Brown found some resolution to his recent struggles during semester break back home in Texas.
Although Illinois’ defense held Tigers’ leading scorer Thomas Gardner to six points, Brown’s troubles, scoring six points on 3-of-10 shooting, was more than just one bad game. It was a continuation of inconsistent play this season.
Despite grabbing a game-high nine rebounds against the Illini, Brown missed makeable shots near the basket and had three turnovers in the first half as the Illini pulled away from the Tigers.
“I missed a lot of easy shots. I’ll make those eventually, so I am not really worried about it,” Brown said. “I wasn’t nervous, it wasn’t a lack of focus...sometimes you just miss those, it just happens.”
After scoring 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting in the home opener against Sam Houston State, Brown has been held to one field goal in games against Davidson and Furman.
As the Tigers (4-4) host Eastern Illinois tonight at 7 pm at Mizzou Arena, Brown will look to break out of what he calls a slump.
“Every player has his slumps during the season,” Brown said. “Hopefully this is my slump and hopefully I get through it. When you go through slumps, you learn a lot about yourself and your game.”
What Brown has learned through some self-reflection during the break wasn’t anything concerning x’s or o’s, but rather a return to something more elementary, having fun.
“I am at my best when I am having fun and playing with a lot of energy,” Brown said. “Sometimes when I missed a few shots, I kind of got down on myself. That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned is not to get down on myself and play with energy at all times.”
Despite his inconsistency on the offensive end, Brown, a 6-foot-6 sophomore, has started all eight games for the Tigers.
Melvin Watkins, the Tigers associate head coach, said Brown’s inconsistency is a result of a learning curve that young players go through.
“You’ve got to remember that he’s still a sophomore at this level we play at, you can’t forget that,” Watkins said. “As much as you want to rush that process, he has to go through those growing pains and I think you’re seeing some of that now. But we’re also seeing what Marshall can be, which is a pretty exciting player for us.”
That excitement showed in a play in the first half of the game against Illinois.
After a Matt Lawrence steal, Brown attempted to dunk over the Illini’s Dee Brown, who had met him a few feet in front of the rim.
As the crowd waited for the potential highlight as Brown’s arm stretched near the rim, the effort fell short and possession went back to Illinois.
The play showed Brown’s athletic ability and aggressiveness, but it also revealed a decision-making process that needs to mature with experience.
“He feels like he can conquer the world and go in and dunk on over someone, and we like that about him,” Watkins said. “But on the same hand I would tell you that those are the areas he’s got to continue to improve in.”
After the blowout defeat against Illinois, Brown is anxious erase the sour memory with a win against Eastern Illinois (1-7).
“Anytime you have a loss like that, its always good to get back on the court and try to get a win to get your confidence up,” Brown said. “I am definitely excited to get back on the floor.”