Tom Keegan looks at MU vs Mizzou

The worst way to measure Mike Anderson's Missouri basketball team is to look at the names of the players on paper. The Big 12 basketball coaches did that before the season and picked the Tigers to finish seventh with just two more votes than ninth-place Nebraska.

Missouri finished third in the regular season and won the Big 12 tournament title because Anderson's team, much like his UAB teams, consistently made the other guys play basketball that made the Avalanche Bar men's room circa 1981 smell good by comparison.

Now that Marquette survived a Utah State team coached by John Dodds look-alike Stew Morrill, it makes a run at what would be its third Sweet 16 appearance since Jim Boylan outscored Phil Ford, 14-6, and Marquette made 23 of 25 free throws in the 1977 title game.

Leo Lyons

In his first season, Buzz Williams could join Kevin O'Neill and Tom Crean in getting at least two tournament wins in the same season.

On paper, Marquette matches up well with Missouri because it has tough veteran guards experienced at handling pressure and Mizzou doesn't have the sort of post presence that tends to eat up the Warriors. (No, that's not a typo, and yes, I know the Avalanche is defunct, it's just that life with the 'Lanche and the Warriors was so perfect, why did it have to change? Too bad Blondie can't still be with us, telling us to "Mix it up, boys.")

Demarre Carroll

Plus, aggressive teams that attack Missouri's pressure to score fare far better than those that look to survive the pressure and then take their chances in the half court. This figures to be a game in which Jerel McNeal's aggressiveness helps more than it hurts unlike in the Villanova game in the Garden and the game at Louisville.

Working against Marquette is its lack of depth. At the end of games, players opposing Missouri have a tendency to look like Smokin' Joe Frazier victims in the late rounds. They're in your face the whole 40 minutes the way Frazier was on your body the whole 15 rounds.

Just as Marquette fans will experience "mass bummage" - as one of the Schroeder Four used to say - when the season ends (barring a national title), so too could Missouri fans when their season comes to a close because it could be the end of the Anderson era. Alabama wants him and the smart money says the Crimson Tide will get him. For Marquette, the end of the season means the end of the Three Amigos Era, an entertaining, winning one that included four NCAA Tournament appearances.

I never quite bought into the statistical comparisons between McNeal and Dwyane Wade, but it is a nice coincidence that Wade wore No. 3 because as a college player he blended the best qualities of the Three Amigos. Wade made teammates better the way Dominic James did and Wesley Matthews does. He had Matthews' size and terrific feel for the game, James' passing ability and freakish athleticism, and McNeal's aggressiveness taking it to the rim and uncanny knack for playing the passing lanes.

None of them have the rebounding ability of former Marquette great John Glaser, as skilled a player at working out of the wide post as the game has ever seen. (By the way, anyone have a clue how Glaser fills his days these days?)

None of them have the shooting ability of Ed Daniels, Gary Rosenberger, Bernard Toone, Terrell Schlundt and Steve Novak, but few have embodied better the spirit of Marquette basketball. They truly are Warriors, a nickname that really should return with Joan of Arc, The Virgin Warrior, a perfect fit in so many ways as the Marquette mascot.

[ Tom Keegan is a 1981 graduate of Marquette and is the sports editor and columnist for the Lawrence Journal World in Lawrence, KS. Keegan covered the 1980-81 Warriors for the Marquette Tribune, 26 years before his son John covered the team for the Tribune. Keegan's son, Andy, is a junior at Marquette. He also has three siblings, a niece and two nephews who graduated from Marquette and a niece who attends Marquette.]


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