Tiger Caravan Quotes from Gary Link

We've already heard Coach Pinkel's remarks from the Mexico Caravan stop. Now it's time to check out long-time Missouri hoops broadcaster Gary Link's comments on the Tigers basketball team.

On being in the NCAA Tournament - "Reporters were talking to Quin and asking him with such a young team,  did you expect to be here? Quin sat back and reflected for a minute, then answered, "You know, I've never not been to the NCAA tournament."  "I was there four times as a player, five times as an assistant coach, and now three times as a head coach.  I expect to be playing in March, and my team expects to be playing in March."

On Najeeb Echols - "Najeeb didn't get much of a chance to play last year because he was coming off of a really tough knee injury. We still think that he can play a little bit of point, maybe play on the perimeter next year when he totally gets the knee well."

On Jeffrey Ferguson - "At 6-10, this guy can really run the floor like a deer.  You're gonna really like watching him play. We just about had him coming (into his own) last season, and Coach Snyder let him go home for Christmas. Jeffrey's from Toronto… (and had visa problems).  He ended up missing a couple of weeks.. He is working hard this summer to get there."

On Josh Kroenke - "Kroenke is coming back, and will play a lot next year as a two guard. He can shoot the basketball and is really developing."

On Travon Bryant - Tra was probably our most improved player by the end of last year. He is starting to get it figured out...and I mean he is really figuring it out! And why this team is going to be so special next year is the great high-low combination of  Travon Bryant & Arthur Johnson. What I mean by that AJ can work the blocks and Travon at 6'9 can go out there to the free throw line and knock down that shot, and still drop that ball off back in to AJ. These guys are really going to be special."

On Sweet Ricky Paulding -  "Paulding is my favorite, and probably everybody's favorite.  Let me tell you what's so special about Ricky Paulding... Ricky came in and from his freshman to his sophomore year worked harder than anybody, and probably improved more than anybody. If he can improve half as much this summer as he did last year, he will really be a special basketball player. And the thing about Ricky Paulding, I'll put it on him right here. He's our best player, and he's also our hardest worker, and when you have your best player as your hardest worker it makes the whole team better. The only thing against Ricky is that next year instead of being the third option, Ricky's going to be the first option, and he'll draw everyone's number one defender. This year we had Kareem (#1 defender) and we had Clarence (#2 defender), so next year everybody's going to be trying to stop Ricky, so if you see him get off to a slow start, that might be why."

On Rickey Clemmons - He's been a point guard since he was 6 years old, so we won't have to teach him how to play the point. HE IS ALREADY A POINT GUARD. He knows how to play the point, so Ricky Clemons will come in as a really nice basketball player. There'll be an adjustment between playing at the JUCO college level and jumping to the Big 12, so we will get him in here this summer, and he'll be the guy running the show."

On Jimmy McKinney -  "Jimmy is such a special basketball player out of St. Louis Vashon.  He played on three state championships. I refer to him as a basketball player. People out there that are my age know what I'm talking about.  Everybody now is caught up in: Are you know a two guard, or a wing forward?  Jimmy McKinney just plays the game. He knows the game of basketball.  He is just as effective with or without the basketball, look for him to get a lot of minutes real quick."

On Kevin Young -  "(smiling) It's really neat for Arthur Johnson to have Kevin around, because KY will be one player that is actually bigger than AJ."  Kevin goes about 6-9, and about 290 lbs. As soon as we signed him, Arthur Johnson went into Coach Snyder and said 'now he'll play at 260, right?' '...Yea, he'll play at 260.' So, Kevin's going to come in this summer, and we are going to take away about half of his body, and get him down to about 260. (editor's note, as of a week ago, KY had lost 12 lbs.)

On Missouri's Commitment to Academics - "We were 9-0 and ranked second in the country, and that's what basketball players love to do, they love to play games. Finals come, and a lot of schools might talk a lot about student athletes. Quin Snyder and Mike Alden made a decision that during Finals Week we shut it down. We don't play any games. From a basketball standpoint, was that the right thing to do? Absolutely not. From a student standpoint and a scholastic standpoint, was that the right thing to do? Absolutely yes, it was the right thing to do. The reason that we have a 71-72% graduation rate is because guys like Mike Alden and Quin Snyder are concerned about these players off the floor as well as on the floor."

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