COLUMBIA — Marissa Scott has an unusual favorite basketball player.
Despite being the Missouri women’s basketball team’s starting power forward, she idolizes Steve Nash, a two-time NBA MVP and the prototypical point guard. She especially admires his unselfish attitude on the court and has taken a pass-first approach to her offensive game, often to a fault.
Missouri coach Cindy Stein has told Scott throughout the season that Scott is too gun-shy with her shot and must look to shoot when she has an open look.
“I came to the offices (after Missouri’s game against Arkansas on Wednesday) and got swarmed by all the coaches and was in there for 45 minutes,” Scott said. “Definitely taking more shots is something I need to work on.”
Scott has taken only 3.14 shots a game and hasn’t taken more than six in any of Missouri’s games. Her pass-first mentality has contributed to a scoring imbalance that has sophomore forward Jessra Johnson, junior guard Alyssa Hollins and freshman forward Shakara Jones combining to average 45.3 of the team’s 64.4 points per game.
“They (opposing defenses) are tempting everyone else to shoot,” Stein said. “She can drain those. She’s a very good three-point shooter, we just need her to look to be a little more aggressive and selfish in that way.”
It looked like Scott had gotten the message in the early going of MU’s win over Texas State on Saturday. She was open on the right wing just inside the three-point line and immediately took a shot when she got the ball. But later in the game, she caught a pass in space on the left side of the court and had a clear path to the basket. She would have had a layup opportunity or drawn a foul had she attacked the basket, but she quickly passed to a teammate and Missouri didn’t score on the possession. Stein immediately sent junior forward K-Kay Pickens to the scorer’s table to replace Scott and again reminded the sophomore of the problem when she came to the bench.
“I always look to pass first before I shoot, so I’m trying to do some reverse psychology on myself and switch that around,” Scott said.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing for Stein is that she knows Scott has the potential to be more than a passer in MU’s offense.
“She’s such a good shooter and a lot of people don’t see that because they don’t see her shoot,” Stein said. “She’s only taken two or three shot attempts in a game, and she’s so much more of a threat than that.”
While Stein said Scott hasn’t been aggressive enough with her shot, her aggressive and assertive play on the defensive end earned her a starting role. Scott started the past three games for MU and made an immediate impact defensively. She grabbed 28 rebounds, blocked eight shots and provided a needed spark for the defense since she became a starter.
“She has a lot of energy,” Stein said. “She’s pretty quick and athletic, she’s a very good leaper and she has those long limbs. She gets a lot of deflections, she creates a lot of problems. She denies the ball real well. Her energy helps us create some excitement around the defensive area.”
Stein said Scott’s 6-foot-2 frame and her leaping ability, combined with an assertiveness seen everywhere but in her shot, has helped her become one of the team’s top rebounders.
“She just hits the boards for us,” Stein said. “She’s very aggressive on the boards. She could jump with all the girls. We’ve had some very good athletes come in here and play, and she’s right up there with them. She’s been a tremendous force on the boards, and we’ve needed it.”
Scott’s aggressiveness on defense has made her an important player on Missouri’s defense, and she realizes that applying that to her offensive game will make her an equally valuable part of the Tigers’ offense. She knows she must treat an open shot the same way she treats a rebound opportunity.
“I just need to have it transfer to the offensive end,” Scott said.