COLUMBIA — Guard Stefhon Hannah and forward DeMarre Carroll are the top two scorers for the MU men’s basketball team this season.
Unfortunately, they are also the top two in another category: fouls.
Carroll has picked up four or more fouls in four of the Tigers’ nine games this season. He has fouled out in three of those games. Hannah has fouled out once, and picked up four fouls in two other games.
Foul trouble was an issue for Hannah last season too. He picked up four or more fouls in 11 of MU’s 30 games.
He seemed to have it under control at the start of this season, but as the competition has stiffened with MU playing Arkansas, California and Purdue in its past three games, Hannah’s foul troubles have sprung up again. He’s picked up 12 fouls in those three games.
It’s not something they want to do, but more a product of their attacking styles of play and coach Mike Anderson’s high-octane basketball philosophy.
Hannah and Carroll epitomize Anderson’s style. They are both hyper-athletic, quick defenders. Carroll uses his athleticism on the inside to grab rebounds and block shots. Hannah uses his supreme quickness to steal the ball from opponents, seemingly at will.
In addition to their defensive abilities, both players can score in a variety of ways. Hannah is hitting 40 percent of his three pointers this season as well as routinely blowing past defenders with his speed. Carroll can slash to the basket from the wing when faced with a bigger defender, or post up a smaller defender near the basket.
But they can’t do any of those things when they are sitting on the bench with foul trouble.
“Sometimes I’m too aggressive and I try to get it back in one play,” Carroll said. “Like if I miss a shot or I do a bad turnover, I try to go out there and get it right back.”
The kind of action Carroll described leads to cheap fouls, where his instinct might get the better of him.
“They’ve got to know when to pull back,” Anderson said. “I think some of the fouls they get, they are just trying to do too much.”
Anderson said that many of the fouls the duo have picked up have come far from the basket, when the opposing team is trying to bring the ball up the floor. He said that Carroll and Hannah need to improve moving their feet and not using their hands to defend so much.
Foul trouble has another side to it. Not only does a player usually go to the bench in order to save them for later in the game. Sometimes the player in foul trouble, once coming back into the game, plays not to pick up fouls; which can take him out of his game.
Carroll said that sometimes when he picks up a foul, he starts thinking about it, and tells himself he can’t pick up another. Sure enough, this leads to another foul. Exactly what he didn’t want to happen.
“I think if I just stop thinking about it and just go out there and play, I won’t be getting fouls,” Carroll said. “With all that in your mind, you really can’t play basketball like you want to. I think I just got to learn to stop doing stupid stuff, basically.”
Hannah said that he has tried to control his fouls this season.
“(I try to) take my time down the court,” he said. “I know I need to be on the court, so I just take my time.”
He admits when he picks up a foul or two that it changes the way he plays defense a little bit, but that he can still be effective when he has a few fouls working against him.
“I just try to play my game, and not reach as much and just play within our defense,” Hannah said.
Anderson said that a big part of getting into foul trouble is understanding how the officials are calling the game.
“I think that’s the biggest concern,” Anderson said. “You’ve got to understand the flow of the game. As we go, I think they’ll learn to understand it a bit more.”