Several of the Missouri Tigers men’s basketball team met with the media on Tuesday to talk about their upcoming season on the horizon. Here are some player quotes from the day.
Jabari Brown Junior Guard
How important is your early-season work on the defensive side of the basketball?
“It’s a big emphasis, especially when you want to go out and win on the road. Your shots might not fall because the gym is unfamiliar, so you have to be able to lock down and get stops especially in the second half.”
How do you guys replace what Alex Oriakhi gave you especially toward the end of the year?
ldquo;That’ll be hard because he was such a great player for us. But we definitely have guys that are capable of doing that. Keanu (Post), Torren (Jones), Tony (Criswell) and Ryan (Rosburg) collectively, I feel like they’ll be able to fill the void and do what Alex did for us.”
Jordan Clarkson Junior Guard
Working with Phil Pressey last year were you able to learn anything from him?
“I learned a lot. He’s a great point guard, I think one of the best point guards last year in college basketball, so I learned a lot from him, just being around him and all the experience that he had.”
Anything in particular that he was able to pass off to you?
“Just really his ball screen stuff, being able to make reads off there. Just watching him as a leader, handling everybody on the team, I learned a lot from him in that way.”
Have you accepted a role as a leader on this team?
“Yeah, along with all the older guys out here. I feel like we all have to step up and be leaders for this team. We have a lot of young guys and we are a young team, but they have to listen to us and they’ll follow us.”
Do you think the team has found an identity?
“As an identity ours needs to be toughness and defense. We have to be better than we were last year. We’ve got a lot of strengths, so I feel like a lot of people really don’t know what we can be so I think that’s good too.”
Phil (Pressey) was really the only ball handler last year. Can some of the young guys take some pressure off in that area in this year?
“It’s a lot of help. You can’t play the whole game, so having Shane, Wes, even Jabari, he’s able to handle the ball, and sometimes Ernest being able to come in there, is really going to help us a lot this year.”
What’s realistic to expect from this team this year? “Our goal is just to go out there and win every game really. We’re not shooting for a number, we’re just trying to put it out there every time we’re on the court, give it our all, and we know something good will happen.”
What attracted you to Mizzou in the first place? “I used to watch Mizzou my freshman year at Tulsa because of Phil. I knew him through high school and when we were younger. When it was time for me to transfer he just said, ‘You know you might as well come stop through and see how it is’ and this was my last stop.”
Shane Rector Freshman Guard
How are you adjusting at this point?
“I’m getting used to it, but we just started official practice yesterday, so that was something new for me, but I’d say I’m adjusting to it pretty well.”
What are your goals leading into the season?
“Just to get better and get ready for the season. I want to be ready to help my team during the season. Whatever Coach needs me to do I just need to be prepared to go out there and do it.”
Johnathan Williams III Freshman Forward
How does it feel to be here and have practice underway? “It’s a blessing to be here. I will just continue to work hard and stay humble.”
Has anyone taken you under their wing and helped you adjust?
“All the upperclassmen have taken me under their wings and told me the team works hard, practice is going to be hard, so basically all the upperclassmen have been there supporting me.”
What are you looking to bring to this team this year?
“Whatever the team needs. Scoring, rebounding and blocking shots. I’m just going to try and be active around the rim.”
What factors played into your decision to come to Mizzou?
“The academics, the coaches and the family atmosphere. Everything went well on my visit, so that’s why I chose here.”
There are a lot of new guys on this team, how are you all gelling together so far?
“We hang around each other on and off the court. We help each other academically and just try to be around each other, going to dinner together, going to breakfast together, even lunch sometimes. Just hanging around each other helps that aspect.”
You guys have obviously worked some over the summer, is this team developing an identity yet?
“Not quite. We have to continue to work hard. We have to continue to keep on working before the season starts before we have an identity. That takes time.”
What’s the biggest adjustment you’ve had to make coming into Mizzou?
“Basically the game is so fast now compared to high school. Just slowing the game down in my head, and just make my moves.”
Keanu Post Junior Center
When you signed you and Coach talked about conditioning and getting in shape, how has that progressed?
“It went really well this summer, especially with the (strength) coaches. They really got me in shape and got me in the weight room. I feel really good physically. I’m really proud of myself.”
What’s the biggest part of your game you focused on in the offseason?
“Getting in shape. Personally it was getting in shape and stuff like that. I had to work on my body and become more aggressive. I still have to work on it, but with the help of this team and the help of everybody I’ll take care of it.”
What part of your game do you hope makes the most immediate impact?
“I hope defensive rebounding. I want to bring some offense and help out there as well.”