Missouri heads to No. 18 Arkansas on Wednesday looking to end a losing streak that’s reached 11 games, the men’s basketball team’s longest in four decades.
But even if a breakthrough doesn’t happen against the Razorbacks, or if the Tigers’ season doesn’t end on a high note, athletic director Mike Alden said on Tuesday that patience is required when evaluating coach Kim Anderson’s first season.
“We knew that throughout the first year, couple of years, there would be growing pains that went along with the shift in coaches, and Kim implementing his system, his philosophy and what he’s trying to do,” Alden said.
Alden was in Kansas City helping promote Missouri’s appearance in next season’s CBE Classic at the Sprint Center. The Tigers are in the field along with Kansas State, North Carolina and Northwestern.
Pairings for the games on Nov. 23-24 will be announced later.
Two things will be true about that event for the Tigers: Barring a miracle postseason run, Mizzou will be coming off a highly disappointing season, and Alden will not be the athletic boss. Last month, he announced his retirement, effective Aug. 31.
But his message to Anderson, whom Alden hired after last season to replace Tulsa-bound Frank Haith, won’t change.
“Our encouragement to Kim and others has been you’ve just got to stay the course,” Alden said. “Keep doing the things you’re doing. We’ve seen this play out in a number of areas.”
Alden listed other programs at Missouri that are nationally prominent, like football and wrestling, where success under the current coaching regime wasn’t immediate.
But Alden said he saw enough early signs in those programs to stay the course.
“If we can just stay consistent with our foundation and values and be a little bit patient…” he said. “In today’s day and age, patience is not as much, is not seen as much as it used to be in the past.”
But Alden said most of the fans he’s talked to seem to understand the circumstances, that Anderson was left with a roster without much returning experience.
Complicating matters for the Tigers have been a load of suspensions. Two players were dismissed before the season and seven others have served a suspension. Freshman guard Tramaine Isabell is expected to be reinstated for Arkansas after sitting out five games for his attitude in practice and behavior toward teammates and coaches.
“It’s difficult for our kids, it’s difficult for our fans, it’s difficult for all of us,” Alden said. “But Kim is establishing the culture, what he’s sees as his vision for the type of basketball program he wants.”