Kim Anderson’s eyes scanned the ballroom just before he took his seat at the University of Missouri’s designated podium for SEC Media Day on Wednesday.
Even sitting down, the 59-year-old, 6-foot-7 Anderson had a clear view of South Carolina coach Frank Martin sitting off to his right, as well as Tennessee’s Donnie Tyndall to his left.
Florida’s Billy Donovan and Kentucky’s John Calipari had just cleared the room.
As Anderson — who replaced Frank Haith as the Tigers men’s basketball coach in April fresh off leading Division II Central Missouri to a national championship — began to speak, he couldn’t help but notice the difference a year has made.
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“I was thinking when we had MIAA Media Day (in years past), they’d take you on campus and put you on video and ask you five questions,” Anderson said. “Then, they’d put that on the Internet and that was Media Day. I think it took about five minutes.”
Wednesday’s media session lasted closer to 35.
Anderson, who played for the Tigers during 1974-77, served as an assistant coach to Norm Stewart at Missouri as well as an assistant at Baylor but has no prior Division I head coaching experience — and wasn’t exactly expecting to get any after serving as the Central Missouri coach for the past 12 seasons.
“I would always think, ‘Man, it’d be really neat to coach at Missouri after coach Stewart retired,’” Anderson said. “So I kind of stayed with that idea, but when coach retired in 1999 and I didn’t get the job, I really didn’t think I would ever get this opportunity.
“Then I got the job at Central Missouri and fully expected to retire there,” Anderson continued. “I had opportunities to go other places, but nothing like this.”
When Anderson — who had a staff of three at Central Missouri — first took the job, he made a visit to Columbia to introduce himself to the players and staff, which now consists of three assistants, a strength coach, an operations guy, a video guy, two secretaries, an equipment manager, a trainer, two graduate assistants, eight managers and six student workers.
“I looked at them and I said, ‘What do you guys all do?’” said Anderson. “And I quickly found out that there’s plenty to do.”
After taking the bus to each and every road game during his time with the Mules, Missouri chartered a plane to deliver Anderson and several Tigers players to the SEC’s Media Day, where it was announced that the team, which is one of the youngest in the nation, was predicted to finish seventh in the conference in the preseason media poll.
“I think I appreciate things maybe more than some others,” Anderson said, “because I’ve been riding a bus for 12 years — which is not bad, don’t get me wrong, we ate nice meals and stuff, but you have so many resources at this level to help your student athletes.
“I’m still asking people every day — ‘You want me to do that? And the response is always, ‘No coach, we’ll do that.’ I’ve got to get used to that, but I think everyday, maybe, I appreciate it more.”
The Kim Anderson era will officially tip off at 8 p.m. Nov. 14, when the Tigers play host to UMKC at Mizzou Arena.