In what was one of the biggest surprises in early March Madness, the Missouri Tigers somehow managed to beat Auburn University last night in first round action of the SEC Tournament.
I thought for sure that last night would have been Kim Anderson’s final game on the sidelines as the University of Missouri head basketball coach – but some ineptitude on Auburn’s part in dribbling the ball down the court and some improbable 3-point shots that actually went in for a change allowed the Tigers to prolong this train-wreck of a season for another night.
I wasn’t thrilled when Kim was hired to replace Frank Haith. It just didn’t seem like a smart move to me even though he was a much-loved former Mizzou hoopster and had a strong alumni contingent pulling for him to get the coaching opportunity.
Three seasons came and went and basketball at Mizzou has gone from bad to worse.
Kim might have been an okay coach. He might even be a good coach. But as for recruiting, not so much. There are some pretty strong basketball players here in the state of Missouri. Most of them end up going somewhere other than Mizzou. And who can blame them?
The program has been on its heels probably dating back to when they brought in Quinn Snyder. His teams managed to make the tournament quite often but there were multiple off-the-court incidents that led to his departure. Mike Anderson was a tough coach and his teams did well. But there were still underlying problems that led to potential NCAA violations so when his alma mater called, he was gone, leaving a few more potential investigations behind in his wake.
Frank Haith didn’t do the program any favors, either, and he left the program in even greater disrepair.
So Kim had a mess on his hands before a whistle was ever blown. Personally, I think his gruff demeanor and total by-the-rules coaching style didn’t jive too well with the players he inherited – so many of them left. And he couldn’t bring in the caliber of players needed to get the program back on its feet again.
So tonight, (barring another March act of madness) will be Kim’s last hurrah. It was cool seeing him give Terrence Phillips what I thought was a final hug for both of them after Phillips had fouled out.
It’s hard to judge the intangibles of what Kim does behind the scenes. Ultimately, in college sports, it’s all about wins and losses. And for that, Kim now owns the worst three losing seasons in Missouri college history.
The only way the program can go, in theory at least, is up. I’m hoping this next coaching hire is the start.