Rebounding a focus for Missouri heading into second exhibition

10/31/2013 5:44 PM

10/31/2013 5:45 PM

Missouri’s men’s basketball team enjoys a certain comfort level with the size and experience it has in the backcourt with Tulsa transfer Jordan Clarkson joining senior Earnest Ross and junior Jabari Brown.

Throw freshmen guards Wes Clark and Shane Rector into the mix and, for Tigers coach Frank Haith, there’s nothing not to like.

Of course, the frontcourt is another issue altogether.

Missouri, which plays its second and final exhibition game at 7:30 p.m. Friday against Central Missouri at Mizzou Arena, is largely untested and unproven, especially at the major NCAA Division I college level, in and around the paint.

Big things are expected from junior Keanau Post, a 6-foot-11 transfer from Southwestern Illinois Community College.

Post, who averaged 12.3 points and 8.3 rebounds last season and was rated as the No. 3 junior college prospect by Rivals.com, replaces Alex Oriakhi in the Tigers’ starting lineup at center and will be asked to make up much of Oriakhi’s production, including a team-high 8.4 rebounds.

Many believe freshman forward Jonathan Williams III, a top-50 recruit in the nation last season, is in line for a tremendous debut season as well.

“Our frontline, whereas I think it’s talented, we’ve still got to see those guys do it with the lights on,” Haith said. “Until we do, I’ll have a better feel for where this team can finish.”

The Tigers return only 43.7 percent of its rebounding from last season. Ross, Brown and Clarkson are all good rebounders from the guard spot, but Post and Williams have to shoulder the load on the glass.

“Rebounding-wise, we’ve got a big team with a lot of tall guys,” Post said, adding that he expected it would be a strength for the team.

Still, Missouri doesn’t have a proven scrapper like Oriakhi, who was adept at pulling down rebounds in traffic.

Fortunately, however, Haith does like his depth inside with sophomore Ryan Rosburg and freshman Torren Jones backing up Post.

“I like the fact that that five spot is three guys, so we don’t have to be worried about fouls,” Haith said. “Those guys can go out and be aggressive and attack. Even (senior forward) Tony Criswell can play there some, so I think that gives us good balance.”

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