Guard’s passes can help, hurt MU

Stefhon Hannah excites with no-looks and alley-oops, but also leads MU with 33 turnovers in nine games.
Monday, December 4, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:38 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Missouri guard Stefhon Hannah likes to pass in unconventional ways. Behind the back. No-look. Even a baseball-style, one-handed toss the length of the court.

When one of the passes connects, it’s beautiful. But when it doesn’t, it looks sloppy and at times unintelligent.


MU forward Leo Lyons blocks Evansville forward Bradley Strickland from making a layup on Sunday. Lyons finished with six points and four rebounds in 14 minutes. (MAGGIE RIFE/Missourian)

“When he completes them, it’s a great, energizing play,” guard Jason Horton said. “You have to take the good with the bad. You’re not always going to complete them. You have to hope the good will always out-weigh the bad.”

The “good” resulted in the most exciting play in Missouri’s 74-53 win Sunday against Evansville, a lob pass from Hannah to forward Leo Lyons, who dunked the ball for an alley-oop. Another top play came on Hannah’s no-look pass to J.T. Tiller, who completed the fastbreak with a layup.

But in the past couple games, Hannah has seen some of his behind-the-back or no-look passes wind up in an opposing players’ hands. Against Arkansas on Thursday, he turned the ball over eight times. And again on Sunday against Evansville, Hannah saw some of his passes reach unintended destinations.

“That’s happened a lot lately,” Hannah said. “I need to calm down with my passes. I’m just so ready to play.”

Missouri coach Mike Anderson says energy is the key to his defense. But at the same time, it’s Hannah’s energy and drive to excite the crowd that has gotten him in some trouble on the offensive end of the court. Hannah, a junior, leads the team with 33 turnovers in nine games. That’s 14 more than Horton, who is second on the team with 19.

If Anderson thinks Hannah, or any other Missouri player, is being too aggressive, he usually will call that player over for a one-on-one conference at the game’s next stoppage.

“He gets on me all the time about it,” Hannah said. “He tells me I have to play smarter. He’ll just say, ‘You’re playing sloppy.’”

While is it his first year at Missouri, Hannah did play for two years at Chipola Community College in Marianna, Fla. Because of that experience, Anderson is harder on him after a turnover than the team’s younger players.

“He’s hardest on me and Stefhon, most definitely,” Horton said. “Being junior guards, he expects us to take care of the ball and make good decisions.”

Anderson has shown he’s not afraid to single a player out because of a mental mistake. And first and foremost, that includes an ill-advised pass that results in a turnover.

“Haven’t you seen him over there on the sidelines?” Horton said. “He’s really animated sometimes. He talks to us about the difference between being fancy and being clever. He wants us to be more clever than fancy.”

MORE MINUTES FOR DANDRIDGE: After playing only 14 minutes in his first four games since returning from a foot injury, forward Glen Dandridge played 11 minutes on Sunday. Dandridge scored four points, going 1-for-3 from the floor and 2-for-2 from the free-throw line. He also added three rebounds.

“It was good to see Glen Dandridge get back on the court. I think he helps out our basketball team,” Anderson said. “The more he plays and practices, I think it’s going to help his confidence. He can score. He can rebound. And I want to see him do it under the lights when the game is on the line.”

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