Missouri senior center Keanau Post had become invisible, a tough trick for a 6-foot-11 and 270-pound man.
Before Saturday’s win against Lipscomb, Post hadn’t played more than nine minutes now scored in a game since a lopsided loss Nov. 25 against Purdue in the Maui Invitational.
During the next seven games, Post averaged four minutes, including DNP-coach’s decisions against Illinois and Oklahoma State, and went zero of four from the field with only three rebounds.
He’d become a ghost for the Tigers, but that changed against the Bisons.
Needing a big body to match up in the paint, Post was subbed in for the first time in three weeks and responded with a season-high seven points and a career-best 10 rebounds in 14 minutes.
“Before the game, coach just told me to be prepared, so I got my mind right and got ready to come in whenever my number was called,” Post said.
Many players would have become frustrated or pouted at the lack of playing time, but that’s not really in Post’s nature.
“I didn’t play him (the last two games) because I didn’t think he’d been playing well enough, not that he hadn’t been working, and he never said a word,” first-year MU coach Kim Anderson said. “He never changed his expression. He came to practice. He worked hard. He worked extra. We’ve been working extra with him. He never complained. In Division I college basketball today, that doesn’t happen all the time. He got his opportunity and he took it and made the most of it. I’m just happy for him, because he’s a great guy.”
Post’s teammates also were thrilled to see him return to the floor and make a massive impact, even if it was only against Lipscomb.
“Keanau being out there, all of us were just proud of him …,” freshman guard Tramaine Isabell said. “We see it all the time. I see a lot of potential in him. … I’ve been telling him to stay focused, ‘At some point, we’re going to need you. I mean, you’re the biggest dude on the team; you’re going to make an impact somehow. There’s no way that you can’t.’ To see him, after two games not playing, have a double-double, you can’t ask for anything better.”
Post’s performance wasn’t a surprise to his Tigers’ teammates.
“He does it every day in practice, so that’s what we expect him to do when he gets in the game,” senior guard Keith Shamburger said. “Like I told him, we’ve got a lot of confidence in him, whether he plays or not, because of what we see from him in practice and what we saw him do before the season. … We just want to see him do it every night, and I think he’s capable of doing that every night.”
Asked how he can carry the momentum from Saturday’s game going forward, Post said, “Just approach every game like I did today. Don’t really think about the last game and get my mind all messed up before the upcoming game. Just relax and be prepared to come in.”
Expect Post to see more minutes at 6 p.m. Thursday when Missouri, 6-7, opens SEC play against LSU, 11-2, at Mizzou Arena.
LSU boasts one of the conference’s — perhaps even the nation’s — best frontcourt duos in sophomores Jarell Martin, the SEC’s leading scorer, and Jordan Mickey, the SEC’s leading shot blocker and one of two players averaging a double-double for the season.
Post’s size will be needed to combat LSU’s strength inside.
“I hope this gives him some confidence,” Anderson said after the Lipscomb game. “I think that’s been his biggest problem. It’s not his ability. I think it’s just confidence, just feeling like he can make baskets. And he doesn’t have to make baskets from very far out. He’s so big, he can just score around the basket, so I hope this game gives him a boost. We certainly need him.”