This isn't Kareem Rush's team anymore

Perhaps this Missouri team never was Kareem's team. He certainly didn't ask for the pressure, or the mantle of leadership. All he wanted was to rain threes and go back to enjoying his college years in Columbia. Could someone turn off that spotlight already...?

Since the end of the Duke game last season, every national publication in sight, including Sports Illustrated, proclaimed that Missouri was Rush's team.

Quin Snyder also spent hours with Rush encouraging him to be a leader and take his game, and by extension, the rest of the team, to the next level.

It all sounded good, didn't it?

What we have all discovered this season is this: just because you have a beautiful outside jump shot doesn't make you a leader.

The more that the team tried to feed Kareem, the more Kareem forced his shots. He was told to pull up and, wait, drive the lane to keep them off you, fake the outside shot, drive the lane and dish.

What happened more often than not was Rush having to handle the ball far to often (not his strongsuit), and him settling for quick, long-range fall away jumpers that usually didn't fall.

While the recent Sports Illustrated piece on Kareem and JaRon Rush was hopeless flawed on many levels, it did show a younger brother who had always had a very talented older brother on the team to draw the spotlight, and the double-teams.

For the most part, when Missouri has succeeded this season on the basketball court, it has been when Kareem Rush was nothing more than a face in the crowd.

This can't be Kareem Rush's team if Missouri has any shot at all in the NCAA Tournament because that experiment has already failed miserably.

Against Colorado, the team fed a suddenly-hot Clarence Gilbert, and rode their senior to 40 points and a new conference record for three-point shots in a game.

Versus Oklahoma State, it was the sophomores who did the damage, most notably Sweet Ricky Paulding and Arthur Johnson. Paulding was spectacular from the field in the second half, while A.J. had another double digits rebounding night.

Travon Bryant also stepped up and probably had his best game as a Tiger as well.

In both of these games, Kareem Rush was a bit player...barely noticable in the box scores. However, opponents are still concentrating their defenses toward Rush, which opens the door for Gilbert, Paulding and the rest.

The Tigers simply have to continue to emphasize a TEAM concept for the rest of the season that doesn't feature Kareem Rush, or anybody else for that matter.

If that happens, perhaps Rush can get back to enjoying his life a little bit, and also get back to doing what he does best: squaring up to the basket from 20 feet and draining threes.

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