First-year Missouri men’s basketball coach Kim Anderson has lamented his team’s lack of emotion on more than one occasion this season, but one freshman seems to buck the trend.
Forward D’Angelo Allen, who was Anderson’s first signing after he was hired in late April, has emerged as the Tigers’ energy-bringer off the bench.
It was never more evident than Thursday when Allen, a native of Dallas, pumped in career highs with 12 points and seven rebounds in a 78-73 win against Elon at Mizzou Arena.
“We need guys like that, because we have some guys — you’ve heard me say this — that don’t exude a lot of energy on the court,” Anderson said. “They are, but it doesn’t look that way.”
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Allen is an exceptional for MU, and that’s a big reason why he also played a career-high 21 minutes against the Phoenix.
Anderson leaned on Allen, especially in the second half, when he produced eight points and five rebounds.
He also went four of five from the floor, including three consecutive offensive rebounds and putbacks during a two-minute stretch early in the second half.
“He’s competes,” Anderson said. “It’s not always pretty. He makes mistakes, but you know, when he makes them, he’s going.”
Anderson wasn’t sure what he was getting when Allen, a raw 6-foot-7 and 220-pound forward, signed with the Tigers.
“I pretty much recruited him sight unseen,” he said. “(Associate head coach) Tim (Fuller) had seen him.”
But Anderson is pleased with his basketball savvy.
“He is a guy that brings energy,” Anderson said. “He is a guy who plays pretty good out of the middle of the floor. He makes pretty good passes. He’s a guy who understands his role. He doesn’t try to do things that he can’t do, most of the time. He tries to do the right thing.”
The biggest knock on Allen at the moment is his fitness.
“He’s got to get in better shape,” Anderson said. “He understands that.”
Allen acknowledged as much, “They call me fat a little bit.”
Senior point guard Keith Shamburger chimed in, “Yeah, that’s his nickname, ‘Fat Boy.’”
Allen doesn’t seem to mind the ribbing. He’s working on his conditioning and willing to accept his role with Missouri.
“D’Angelo always plays hard and he’s going to give us that no matter what, because he goes so hard every night,” Shamburger said.
The Tigers, 5-4, will need Allen’s energy with a short turnaround before playing host to Xavier at 3 p.m. Saturday in a game that will be televised on ESPN2.
“I know they’re good, I think they’re well-coached and I know they’ve got good players,” Anderson said. “I don’t normally go a game ahead.”
Anderson’s staff has done some prep work and Missouri’s classes are finished for the semester, giving the Tigers plenty of time to study up on the Musketeers.
He hopes the win against Elon, despite the second-half struggles, provide a boost of confidence for a team still searching for an identity.
“It might be good,” Anderson said. “You’d like to have more time, but it is what it is. No use talking about, just go ahead and do it. You don’t want to give anybody an excuse, just go out and play.”