Missouri men’s basketball coach Mike Anderson wants to play up-tempo all the time – at least on the defensive end.
Offensively, it’s not quite that simple. In fact, Anderson and his players think they have been rushing things a little too much on the offensive end, leading to poor shot selection. That was evident in Missouri’s loss at Purdue on Saturday during the Tigers’ scoring drought, which lasted nearly eight minutes.
“We weren’t playing with poise on the road,” freshman guard Keon Lawrence said. “It was one pass or two passes, then jack it up. On the road, you have to make extra passes. You have to play smarter, and we weren’t doing that at all.”
Most of the rushed shots came off key defensive plays for Missouri – or at least what could have been key plays had the Tigers been able to convert them into offensive points. Missouri still forced 21 turnovers against Purdue, but the Tigers didn’t make many baskets after doing so. On one play, guard Stefhon Hannah stole the ball in Purdue’s backcourt and then passed it to forward Matt Lawrence, who missed a hurried 3-point shot with a hand in his face.
“The goal is definitely to get the best shot possible,” Matt Lawrence said. “With the chaos out there, we also have to use our heads. When we get those kinds of steals, we need to focus on getting the best shot possible and not the quickest shot.”
Anderson said most of the time a quick shot will end up being the best shot possible after a defensive steal because the opposing team will not have had the time to set up its defense. But if that isn’t the case, he’s OK with the players taking the ball back near half-court and setting up the offense.
“You have to take what the defense gives you,” Anderson said. “If you have the opportunity to attack, then we have to go ahead and attack. But we want them to take good shots. That’s something we work on every single day in practice.”
The scoring drought against Purdue on Saturday not only made Missouri more anxious to finally get a basket, but it also kept the team from being able to set up its press. Missouri’s full-court press depends on the Tigers being able to make shots.
“A key to our defense is having the opportunity to set up our press,” Matt Lawrence said. “And we do that by making shots. When we aren’t able to hit shots, other teams are able to get the ball down the court quicker and set up their plays. We like to score and pick up defense and get right in their face.”
Matt Lawrence said that more than any other team he’s played for, Missouri’s defense and offense feed off of each other.
“When we can’t hit shots, we don’t put pressure on the ball like we want to,” Matt Lawrence said. “And when we don’t get the steals on defense, we get into a half-court game on offense, which isn’t what we want to do.”