Missouri reeling in wake of disappointing season
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) Missouri's disappointing season is already affecting its next one.
The school announced the transfers of sophomore forward Johnathan Williams III and junior guard Deuce Bello on Tuesday, almost two weeks after saying associate head coach Tim Fuller would be departing.
Williams led the team in scoring at 11.9 points per game and rebounding at 7.1 last season when the Tigers finished 9-23 overall and 3-15 in the Southeastern Conference.
''When you have a season like we had, you have many, many contingency plans,'' first-year coach Kim Anderson said Wednesday. ''Certainly, I was hopeful that Johnathan wouldn't transfer. Not only is he a good basketball player, but he's a great guy.''
The coach addressed reporters for the first time since losing to South Carolina in the conference tournament on March 11, saying he ''realistically'' hoped in the fall that his team would win 10 to 15 games.
The Tigers didn't, and won the fewest games in a season since Bob Vanatta's 3-22 run in 1966-67, the year before Norm Stewart arrived.
''The season was certainly disappointing, but I do think we made improvement,'' said Anderson, who won the Division II title in 2014 with Central Missouri. ''But other teams improved, too.''
The team struggled with chemistry, he added, not only a product of having seven new faces and returning just 22 percent of scoring from the previous season, but also because of the lack of success the Tigers experienced this year.
The new developments figure to only hamper efforts to create more cohesion.
Bello played just one season at Missouri and chipped in 1.8 points per game, but Fuller arrived in 2011 and developed a reputation as former coach Frank Haith's ace recruiter, attracting players such as Williams and current Los Angeles Lakers rookies Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson.
Anderson said he seeks a replacement that not only can scout but also cultivate relationships between the coaching staff and its team. He avoided placing a timetable on the hire, but expressed optimism that his crew of five freshmen would return.
That group accounted for 40.4 percent of the Tigers' points.
''I'm not thinking anybody's going to leave, but I also know that they're young guys,'' Anderson said. ''People always get in their ears, too. In my conversations, they've been very positive. Now whether or not that continues, time will tell.''
No matter who stays or leaves, though, it was clear this season took a toll on the 59-year-old Anderson. The coach, the Big Eight co-player of the year in 1976-77 for Missouri, has talked candidly about his love for his alma mater and the state he was born and raised in. The school promoted his hire last April 28 by saying he was ''coming home.''
One year later, Anderson now defers to his wife to let him know if it's OK for him to read a newspaper.
''It's hard because this is my school,'' Anderson said, pausing as he searched for the right words. ''I think you don't ever want to let anybody down. But while it's hard, I think it makes you more determined. I've got great people around me.''
Anderson said he has met with incoming athletic director Mack Rhoades about next season but declined to offer any details about their conversations.
The Tigers averaged 7,856 fans for 16 home games, their lowest figure since the 1978-79 season. Mizzou Arena has a capacity of 15,061.