Missouri rallies past Florida 64-52; snaps 13-game skid


For weeks now, I have heard it. The tormented Missouri fans, the angry sports radio hosts, and the gleeful Jayhawks, all sharing the same opinion: Kim Anderson has been a disaster as Tiger basketball coach.

The numbers would seem to support that theory. Mizzou has now lost 13 straight games. Think about that. Practicing day after day, with nothing to show for it on the scoreboard. In a sport where a three-game losing streak is a disaster, 13 consecutive losses is too terrible to think about.

There is no doubt that MU has been awful this season. Their high point might be the last-second loss to Illinois in the Bragging Rights game. That, and an improbable win over a decent LSU team to open SEC play. The low point is easy to pinpoint: the 49-point humiliation at the hands of top-ranked Kentucky.

Through it all, Kim Anderson has maintained his composure. There have been no embarrassing scenes on the bench, no abusing his players (at least not in public). He was mildly critical of the way his guys were dressing and acting during post-game interview sessions, but that's been about it.

This is a man who won a Division II national championship just 11 months ago. He knows how to coach. As an 18-year assistant at Missouri and Baylor, he recruited big-time Division-one players. But to hear the critics tell it, he's an idiot, a "has-been" who is in over his head. Never mind that he barely had a chance to put his first recruiting class together last year.

While I hear a lot about Anderson, I hear nothing about Frank Haith. He's the forgotten man. It was Haith who left Missouri hoops in this condition. He's the man who brought an NCAA cloud with him from Miami. Some say the specter of sanctions was a key reason he was unable to recruit winning players. Whatever the reason, a man known for his recruiting ability was unable to convince top recruits to come to Columbia. That's why he was ushered out the door to Tulsa last year.

Yes, Kim Anderson needs to do a better job coaching. Yes, he needs to bring in better players than he has on his current roster. But for me, his clock starts next season. Digging out from the mess left by Frank Haith will take more than one or two seasons.

As a former Missouri player and assistant coach, he deserves a fair shot.

Of course, the same people who were calling for football coach Gary Pinkel's job three years ago probably will not agree.

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