With Kleiza out, it's Bryant and Johnson's team

Missouri announced Thursday that Linas Kleiza's dislocated shoulder will cost him the season. This leaves only three forwards, but only two that have played more than 20 minutes in a game this season. Those two, Travon Bryant and Arthur Johnson, now have the responsiblity of carrying this team on their discipline and consistency.

The latest news about Linas Kleiza presents a pretty big problem for Missouri coach Quin Snyder.

He has only three forwards.

That's right, with Kleiza out for the season, only Arthur Johnson, Travon Bryant and Kevin Young can play in the post, and it means that these three players are going to have to play with much more discipline. That is, of course, if Missouri wants to win on the road, which it hasn't done in its last three tries.

As it happened on Tuesday, big men can survive at home, where they can get away with more over-the-backs and not defending with their arms straight up. They can get away with being aggressive on the perimeter. They can get away with play the way at least Bryant has to: with a lot of emotion.

But somehow in the next three or four weeks, Snyder is going to have to find a way to get Bryant and Johnson to keep that same kind of intensity, all the while keeping it under control. Against Colorado, Bryant gave the officials at least four chances to call a foul. They called only one. To think he is going to be this lucky again is rather optimistic.

Fortunately, Johnson and Bryant are playing about as well and any frontcourt tandem in the country right now. Bryant, who used to be the poster child for inconsistency, has been as solid as anyone on the team, and about as solid as any big man in the conference.

Johnson seemed to find his shot on Tuesday, and that's good news for Missouri. But he did so against a man-to-man defense, with Colorado trying to rely on single-teaming him with David Harrison. After seeing how Missouri did Tuesday, don't expect to see too much more man defense until the Tigers prove again that they can beat the zone.

But here's what you should expect: expect Bryant and Johnson to be on their best behavior for the rest of the season. Young hasn't been good enough to take up any more than 10-15 minutes a game.

But don't only expect their best behavior, expect their best on the court, too. These are too very proud men that no one should expect to go down easy. And with the season winding down and the Misssouri bench dwindling, this should be the time these two take the team to the most unexpected but expected postseason run Missouri has seen.


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