Missouri got three points and 13 rebounds from its three-man rotation in the post Tuesday during a 72-59 win against Southern Illinois.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
As troublesome as that lack of production might seem, especially in terms of scoring punch, it’s a trend that’s likely to continue for the Tigers.
Sophomore Ryan Rosburg, who has started both games at the five spot, grabbed a career-high nine rebounds, but he only scored two points and attempted two shots in Tuesday’s victory.
Against an undersized Salukis squad, Rosburg, freshman Torren Jones and junior Keanau Post didn’t attempt a single free throw and only combined for three shots from the field.
Post, a 6-foot-11 transfer Southwestern Illinois Community College, was supposed to step into the role vacated by Alex Oriakhi, who averaged 11.2 points and 8.4 rebounds as a senior last season.
Instead, Post found himself benched for the entire second half.
“We have several guys that are going to rotate through those positions, and everybody gets a little bit of reps in the first half and we see how comfortable they feel,” said Missouri interim coach Tim Fuller, who will coach the first five games while Frank Haith serves a NCAA suspension. “… The second half, we had to go with guys who are going to play tough, be physical and help us gut out a win.”
That meant Post and sophomore forward Stefan Jankovic didn’t see the floor.
Missouri’s competition will only get tougher, starting at 6 p.m. Saturday against Hawaii at the Sprint Center, but the Tigers seem to have precious few answers inside at the moment.
That could be an issue against a Warriors team led by 6-foot-8 forwards Christian Standhardinger and Isaac Fotu, who average 32 points and 16 rebounds this season.
Fuller said he’d like for Rosburg, Post and Jones to provide 20 points and 10 rebounds per game, but so far the trio is averaging seven points and 10.5 rebounds in two games, including last Friday’s victory against Southeastern Louisiana.
Freshman forward Johnathan Williams III — known by teammates as J3 — has shown promise. He scored six points with five rebounds against Southern Illinois after opening the season with a seven-point, six-rebound performance.
He and Rosburg have been the closest thing to bright spots for the Tigers on the interior. Of course, the caveat is that it’s still very early in the season.
“They’ll find their way of getting their production,” junior point guard Jordan Clarkson said. “They’re growing every game. We’ve got a young big-man frontcourt. I feel like J3 is growing every game. Rosburg is still growing, and I feel like he’s came and played a big part these last games. It’s something we’re going to continue to get better.”
Rosburg, who Fuller challenged to toughen up inside during halftime against the Salukis, might be the closest to breaking through.
Fuller cautioned that “Ryan Rosburg is not comfortable scoring in the post yet.”
The Tigers hope that will change, but are comfortable riding Rosburg for the time being.
“That’s the most important thing, having guys on the floor that want to win and Ryan wants to win,” Fuller said. “Ryan desires to be a part of this team. He paid his dues last year and I challenge him every day, because I watched him Alex Oriakhi battle for loose balls, battle for rebounds. I know it’s in him.”
Missouri could get a boost if senior forward Tony Criswell returns from suspension. He’s missed the first two games and will be a game-time decision against Hawaii.
Tipoff changed vs. Gardner-Webb
Missouri announced Friday that it was changing the tip time for its contest Nov. 23 against Gardner-Webb at Mizzou Arena.
The game has been moved up to 2:30 p.m. to make it easier for fans to attend that game and also watch the Tigers football team play Mississippi at 6:45 p.m. in Oxford, Miss.
The Gardner-Webb game will be televised on Fox Sports Midwest and Fox Sports Kansas City, while the football game is on ESPN.
Also, upper-level seating for the Gardner-Webb game and Missouri’s home game Nov. 25 against IUPUI are on sale for $5. To purchase tickets, visit MUTigers.com or call 800-228-7297.
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.