COLUMBIA — Don't look now, but Missouri coach Frank Haith may be shortening his rotation to something resembling last year's squad.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
In each of the Tigers' last four games, Haith has given 12 minutes or more to only seven players, none of whom are freshmen. And when asked after Missouri's convincing 98-79 win over Mississippi on Saturday if he prefers such a small rotation, Haith answered in the affirmative.
“That's who I am,” Haith said.
Of course, that's how many players the Tigers used last year, when - out of necessity and a lack of bodies - they rode a seven-man rotation to a 30-5 record and the Big 12 tournament title. Over the last several games, Haith has seemed to settle on guards Phil Pressey, Jabari Brown and Keion Bell and forward Laurence Bowers and Alex Oriakhi as his starters, with guard Earnest Ross and forward Tony Criswell coming off the bench.
That has left freshmen Ryan Rosburg, Stefan Jankovic and Negus Webster-Chan - who have combined to average a total of 35.8 minutes per game - with increasingly inconsistent minutes. On Saturday, they each played one minute apiece.
But while Haith admits he prefers a smaller rotation, he is quick to add that he won't hesitate to use the youngsters, if necessary.
“It depends on the game,” Haith said. “Sometimes guys get in foul trouble…the beauty of it is they've played minutes in SEC play and they've had court time. So I don't want it to be etched in stone that we won't see those guys.”
To reach Terez A. Paylor, send email to email@example.com or call 816-234-4489. Follow him at Twitter.com/TerezPaylor.