While the Missouri Tigers (3-0) will have to address a number of issues going forward like foul trouble and consistency in the front court, the team will also need to improve on its free throw shooting if it wants to make it to the NCAA Tournament come March.
After shooting 59.3 percent from the charity strip the first two games, the Tigers shot 62.5 percent against Hawaii, raising a red flag early in the season.
Last year’s team shot 74.4 percent from the line, with the team’s best shooter, Keion Bell, shooting an impressive 86.6 percent.
Interim head coach Tim Fuller is aware of the team's need to improve its free throw shooting saying, “We’ll continue to work on free throws. That’s something our guys just have to get to the line, take a deep breath and knock them down.”
Rector Makes Debut
Freshman guard Shane Rector became the last freshman to make his debut in the black and gold, playing seven minutes off the bench Saturday night. Rector entered the game in the first half after freshman Wes Clark joined junior Jordan Clarkson on the bench as the two Tiger floor generals in foul trouble.
Rector scored three points in his first game, all on free throws, had a rebound and assisted on a dunk by junior forward Keanau Post.
Fuller was impressed with the freshman’s performance.
“Shane gave us a great pace and got in the lane whenever he wanted to,” Fuller said. “It’s interesting because I spent a lot of time talking to the upperclassman Jabari (Brown), Jordan (Clarkson) and (Earnest Ross) about the younger guys asking them where I can help them out. And they told me, they said, ‘Coach, Shane is the hardest to guard we can’t keep him out of the lane because he has such a herky-jerky game.’ And we just encouraged that. We said, ‘Shane, you’re unguardable people can’t keep you out of the lane so keep that going.’”
Rector was a late signing for the Tigers, committing last spring after de-committing from Rutgers in light of the Mike Rice coaching-abuse scandal. Rector is a Bronx, N.Y., native and will likely see more court time as the season goes on.
Senior forward Tony Criswell had a heck of a season debut, going for 11 points and nine rebounds in his first game of the season. Criswell missed the first two games due to a suspension for violating team rules, and Fuller made it a point to say that his most experienced frontcourt player isn’t out of the clear just yet.
“It’s still conditional game-by-game,” Fuller said. “Coach (Frank) Haith put some parameters out there for Tony before he left, and Tony knows if he meets those stipulations then he’ll play. If he doesn’t, he won’t.”