COLUMBIA — The Missouri men’s basketball team finished practice Monday with high energy and hustle.
The team had just wrapped up five-on-five half court team drills, working on various offensive sets. Before calling it quits, however, the coaching staff instructed all the players to line up at the baseline. Assistant coach Emanuel Dildy stepped in front of the team and explained its final challenge, an exercise he referred to as “ironman drill.”
Going through the drill one player at a time, members of the team started at the baseline and deflected a pass into the post. Assistant coaches played the roles of both the passer and the post player.
After deflecting the pass, players would then sprint to the sideline and dive on the floor, saving a rolling basketball from going out of bounds. Next, players got up off the floor, sprinted back to the key and took a charge against an incoming assistant coach.
Finally, players got back on their feet and sprinted to the other end of the court, where they caught a full court pass and finished with a layup. It was a gauntlet of hustle plays that coaches love, and a fitting way to wrap up practice for a team trying to improve on last year’s 10-21 record.
“Two days of practice,” head coach Kim Anderson said after wrapping up Monday, referring to the team starting practice for this season on Sunday. “I’ve been really pleased in a lot of aspects, and I think probably the main thing is the energy level.”
Anderson has been especially pleased with the team’s conditioning and sang praise for Assistant Athletics Director for Athletic Performance Nick Michael, who is in his first season with the team. According to Anderson, the team had conditioning testing in June and again last week. Anderson said that every player’s conditioning improved over that timeframe.
As for personnel decisions, Anderson isn’t ready to commit to any particular lineup this early in the season. Instead, he wants to focus on developing a roster that is formidable from top to bottom.
“I don’t sit here and say, ‘Well, we’ve got a star,’” Anderson said. “Hopefully we can put five guys on the floor that you have to guard.”
There are seven new players on this year’s team, and Anderson said the competition level has been good so far in practice. While the returning players have a better grasp of the system, Anderson believes that each new member of the team can make an impact.
When asked what attracted them to Missouri, freshmen Frankie Hughes and Mitchell Smith stressed the family atmosphere and coaching staff.
“I just wanted to be here with these guys,” Hughes said after practice. “It’s just good guys, and I wanted to be a part of the program.”
The team plays its first game Nov. 13 at home against Alabama A&M.