Third-year Missouri basketball coach Kim Anderson worries about his job, but that’s not different than virtually every day during the last 15 years.
“Coaches are always concerned about their jobs,” Anderson said Monday on the SEC men’s basketball teleconference. “I’ve been concerned about my job every day since I walked onto the campus of the University of Central Missouri (in 2002). The only day I wasn’t worried about my job was the day after we won the national championship. I felt pretty solid that day.”
Aside from a shocking loss against UMKC in his first game as Mizzou’s coach, Anderson’s teams had avoided such embarrassment against non-Power Five programs before this season.
Now, the Tigers are 24-51 under Anderson, including a dismal 6-30 record in Southeastern Conference play, but he said new athletic director Jim Sterk hasn’t issued any mandate regarding Anderson’s future with program.
“Jim and I talk on a fairly regular basis,” Anderson said. “I deal a lot with (MU Executive Associate Athletic Director for External Relations) Brian White. We haven’t had any specific conversations about any particular goals that I have to meet or the team has to meet.”
Still, he understands the ongoing scrutiny of his tenure with the Tigers and concerns about the direction of the program.
“The one thing that has impressed me about Jim Sterk is that he kind of lets coaches do their jobs,” Anderson said. “I’m sure there’s an ongoing evaluation process as there is with every coach in the country. For me, he’s been great and I’ve enjoyed working with him and Brian.”
The on-court struggles have been compounded by a flood of player exits, the latest being freshman forward Willie Jackson’s decision to transfer after only one semester, which seemingly cranks up the temperature a few degrees more on Anderson’s hot seat.
“I don’t really let that consume me,” Anderson said. “I’ve got a great group of young men here. We’re going to coach them and they’ve been working hard. We’ll just see where that takes us.”
With the losses mounting and attendance at Mizzou Arena flagging, there was enough speculation about Anderson’s future late last season that former athletic director Mack Rhoades sent a news release outlining the rationale behind bringing Anderson back for a third season.
Rhoades left for Baylor in July and Sterk consistently has struck a supportive tone since he was hired in August.
He told a gathering of Mizzou fans in October that he was treating this like Anderson’s first season in some respects, because of the difficult circumstances he inherited.
It’s unclear if this season’s profound struggles have significantly altered that perception, but Anderson is trying to focus on turning things around as conference play begins at 8 p.m. Wednesday against LSU.
“I know people probably don’t want to hear this, but, as you look back at the nonconference, certainly we didn’t accomplish what we would have liked to,” Anderson said. “But I think you could realistically say it wasn’t like we got blown out by 35 points every single game. I think we competed.
“Certainly, we had some games where we didn’t play well. There were certainly some teams on schedule that, on paper, we should have beaten and we didn’t. There’s nothing I can do about that now.”