2001 Basketball Tigers Unveiled

Don't look now Tiger fans, but Big Stuff is back and open for business. The latest edition of the Missouri Tigers basketball team features a potential Wooden Award finalist, three hungry freshmen, some slimmed down post players, and point guard by committee.

Missouri coach Quinn Snyder unveiled his 2001-2002 edition basketball team Saturday at the inaugural Black and Gold basketball game. There were over 6,000 fans in attendance and were very excited to see the new look basketball team. The very loud and enthusiastic crowd at the Hearnes Center greeted the team, and the team treated the crowd to a very good show.

The game was two, ten-minute halves, with a two-minute intermission in between the two halves. The Black team was comprised of Kareem Rush, Wesley Stokes, Najeeb Echols, Arthur Johnson, Duane John, and Michael Griifin. The Gold team consisted of Clarence Gilbert, Josh Kroenke, Travon Bryant, Rickey Paulding, Jeffery Ferguson, and Ryan Kiernan.

The Black team won the game 52-37, with Kareem Rush leading the way with 19 points. Rush picked up right where he left off last year, scoring at will and making that fade away from the corner over top of various defenders. Rush only went one for four on three point field goals on the day, but Rush's ability to score from long-range has never been in doubt. 

Mizzou's two young post men looked very good and very strong. AJ was six of nine from the field scoring 15 points and adding nine rebounds. Bryant scored 12 points on five of nine shooting and added two rebounds. These two guys really worked hard on each other in the middle and were very physical. Travon was very vocal on the offensive end and figures to be a real leader on this team. AJ's game already looked to be in mid-season form hitting on a couple of his patented sugar hook shots.

Before the game started Travon was working hard with coach Lane Odom on his post position and post moves. These two guys will be a key to the Tigers going for in the tournament and the Big 12.

Wesley and Clarence ran the points for their respective teams and looked decent. Wesley scored seven points with four assists and two steals. He was one for two from three and three of four from the field. Wesley was a little out of control at times but, in general, looked good running the team. Clarence was one for four from three-point land and a total of one for seven. It is the opinion of this reporter that Gilbert will be able to run the point if he remembers that his role as a point guard is primarily to set up the offense and distribute the ball. 

When Wesley is in the game playing point guard, Clarence will be at his best at his customary two guard slot, however, Gilbert will be able to fill in at the point if needed.

Clarence only played 13 minutes because his foot was hurting from an earlier injury. With about seven minutes to go in the game Clarence came to the bench in obvious pain, and Quin told him just to shut it down.

As for the freshman they looked very good for their first time in a game situation. Najeeb Echols looks very good. He is big and strong and will play a very big role on this team. Echols scored six points with six rebounds. Echols was all over the boards banging with the big boys. Echols shocked the crowd on a couple of occassions, opting to bring the ball down the floor in transition. Duane John was one for three behind the arch and those were his only points. Jeffery Ferguson was three for four from the field for six points. He also added six rebounds.

All in all, these three freshmen players were very impressive, and it appears certain that Echols will make the most impact this year because he appears to be further along from a physical standpoint.  However, Tiger fans should expect nothing but good things from these three guys in years to come.

Overall, the team looked quick and physical, and appear to have, for the first time during the Snyder era, a credible inside game lead by Johnson, Bryant and Echols.

The Tigers open their regular season November 13 against Tennessee-Martin.

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