Missouri’s on-court struggles during Kim Anderson’s first season are well-documented.
The Tigers, 7-16 and 1-9 in the SEC, will try to snap a nine-game losing streak at 6 p.m. Tuesday against South Carolina in Columbia, S.C.
Off the court, there have been myriad issues as well, which could leave Missouri shorthanded against the Gamecocks.
During the weekly SEC men’s basketball teleconference Monday, Anderson said that freshman point guard Tramaine Isabell remains suspended indefinitely.
Isabell, who is averaging 4.5 points this season, has missed the Tigers’ last three games for what Anderson termed “unacceptable” behavior toward coaches and teammates.
Anderson said he hasn’t made a decision about the availability of two other freshmen, Montaque Gill-Caesar and Namon Wright.
Gill-Caesar, who is MU’s third-leading scorer at 9.6 points per game, and Wright, who averages 5.5 points and has started 13 games, were suspended for Saturday’s Texas A&M game for an unspecified violation of team rules.
It has been a rocky season in that regard for Missouri, but Anderson reiterated that he’s simply trying to build the program the right way.
“We want to try to have guys that understand that this is a privilege and not a right,” Anderson said. “They have the opportunity to play college basketball and they have an opportunity to get an education and they have an opportunity to grow up as individuals. I’m not really trying to be critical of any one player. I’m not. I’m just trying to say, ‘This is the way that I’m going to do it.’ I think it’s the right way, and I think it’s the best way.
“If it means not winning games, which we aren’t, so be it, because we’re trying to build this over the long haul. No one’s more disappointed than me about losing games, but no one’s more excited than me about building this program.”
Sophomore guard Wes Clark, freshman forward Jakeenan Gant, freshman guard D’Angelo Allen and junior guard Deuce Bello also have been suspended in the last four months.
In August, Torren Jones was dismissed from Missouri and four other players — scholarship players Cam Biedscheid and Shane Rector and walk-ons Danny Feldmann and Corey Haith — have left the team since Anderson took the reins.
Biedscheid and Rector transferred, while Feldmann retired from college basketball and Haith followed his father, former MU coach Frank Haith, to Tulsa.
Anderson spoke passionately about his role as a teacher and preparing his players for life beyond the hardwood Saturday after a loss to Texas A&M at Mizzou Arena.
“The response has been good, because it was the truth,” Anderson said. “I just spoke the way I felt about what we needed to do to continue to improve as a basketball program.”
He also said he doesn’t believe the suspensions are a sign he’s out of touch with the players.
“I’m not the old-school way,” Anderson said. “I think there’s a misconception there. I’m not Norm Stewart and I’m not anybody else but me. I wouldn’t say I’m an old-school coach. The decisions that I’ve made are decisions I’ve made that I think are best for the basketball team. I don’t think it has anything to do with modern times or not modern times.”
Anderson agreed that coaching has changed and tactics that worked for some coaches 20 or 25 years ago are outmoded.
“But I still think that you’ve got to have some discipline and you’ve got to have some accountability,” Anderson said. “And, if you don’t, then there are consequences, because when you leave college, if you don’t have discipline and you don’t have accountability, then you get fired. That’s just kind of the way I look at it. Maybe that is old school, but I don’t think so. I think that’s common sense.”
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @todpalmer.