COLUMBIA — With Kalen Grimes kicked off the MU basketball team and Darryl Butterfield suspended from competition for an unknown period of time, it would appear that the Tigers would be lacking in large bodies this season.
That appearance might have changed after MU’s black and gold scrimmage on Tuesday night, because it was the big men who dominated the action.
A Marshall Brown three-pointer here, a DeMarre Carroll dunk there. Justin Safford with a huge block and then Leo Lyons snagging a rebound.
The assumptions about the depth of the Tiger front court can take the rest of the week off.
“We’ve got so many versatile players that can play down low and outside,” Lyons said. “So just losing one isn’t really hurting us.”
Lyons said he missed having Butterfield out there, but that the team is confident it can be successful without him.
Two of the more eye-popping performances of the night came from Brown and Carroll. The two players played on the same team and were on the floor together for most of the game. The 6-foot-6 Brown and 6-8 Carroll are a combination that coach Mike Anderson seems to like.
Anderson said that the two players complement each other and that having them on the court at the same time could pose some serious match- up problems for opponents this season.
Anderson also said he expects to see a lot more of Lyons, who is 6-foot-9, on the court this season.
“I think he was one of those guys that was playing behind a guy like Kalen, maybe he’s one of the guys that’s out there when we start a game,” he said. “One of the things Leo’s really got to work on is stamina. He’s playing a lot harder. I think he’s going to be in there possibly from the beginning and then hopefully be in there long enough to help us finish too.”
Anderson said that Lyons’ stamina is going to be the most important thing for him to be a player who can make a major impact for the Tigers this year.
“At times last year he kind of faded away,” Anderson said. “He’d come in and have some great minutes for you and going down the stretch you’d wonder where he is. (This year) I think he’s improving (on that).”
Anderson’s fast-paced style doesn’t bode well for a traditional big man. The current forwards are very versatile and have worked hard at becoming difficult to guard all over the court.
Brown exemplified this by knocking down three of his four three-point attempts at the scrimmage.
“I feel like that is something I’ve really tried to work on and continue to work on,” Brown said. “I think you can never stop improving on your shooting. So that’s one of the many things that I tried to work on during the offseason.”
Game by Game: Butterfield did not participate in the scrimmage as part of his suspension, but he wasn’t the only Tiger not allowed to compete.
Stefhon Hannah is also currently suspended. He appeared in street clothes on Tuesday night. Anderson said it was his decision to not let Hannah play.
“I’m just not happy with some of things he’s done right now, off the court,” Anderson said. “That’s just team rules. You have got to follow team rules. So we’ll see what takes place in this period here before the next game.”
Anderson wouldn’t elaborate on the length of either Hannah or Butterfield’s suspensions, saying only that he would take them on the game-by-game basis. From what Anderson said it seemed that Hannah would be back with the team before Butterfield would be.
Balanced Attack: The statisticians for the black and gold scrimmage might be on their way to carpal tunnel syndrome.
The black squad, led by Brown and Carroll, won the contest 101-95.
Four players in the game scored over 20 points. Carroll led all scorers with 29, while Brown, J.T. Tiller and Matt Lawrence each had 24. Tiller and Lawrence both played for the gold team.