University of Missouri

Mizzou’s Ryan Rosburg putting together strong finishing kick to career

Missouri forward Ryan Rosburg dunked the ball in the second half against Vanderbilt on Wednesday.
Missouri forward Ryan Rosburg dunked the ball in the second half against Vanderbilt on Wednesday. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Missouri coach Kim Anderson lights up when he’s asked about senior forward Ryan Rosburg.

During his high school career, Rosburg’s Marquette High squad frequently attended Anderson’s camps at Central Missouri, so the relationship goes back nearly a decade.

Rosburg, 22, also was among the first to fully embrace Anderson when Anderson was hired in late April 2014 as the Tigers’ new basketball coach.

“Ryan’s been great from the day I walked into this arena,” Anderson said Monday. “When I walked into the first meeting, a year ago or two years ago — it seems like 10 years ago — when I walked into that first meeting, he was sitting on the front row.”

It’s not hard to understand why Anderson relishes seeing Rosburg, who is the team’s lone senior, light up the scoreboard now as Rosburg’s Mizzou career winds down.

He scored in double figures only once in the Tigers’ first 16 games this season, but Rosburg has pumped in 10 points or more in four of the eight contests.

That includes 17 points — at that point a career high — on 7-of-12 shooting last Saturday at Alabama.

“Having success and seeing the ball go through the net helps, so you have more confidence to shoot the next one,” Rosburg said.

That confidence was apparent Wednesday at Vanderbilt, where Rosburg exploded for a career-high 24 points on 9-of-18 shooting with a season-high 11 rebounds. It’s the first double-double of his collegiate career.

“He’s been a great person and a joy to coach,” Anderson said. “We have (seven) games left, and I hope we finish them off well for him. He has certainly played well lately, and I’m really happy for him.”

During his Tigers career, Rosburg has been a lightning rod for criticism, much of it seemingly misguided, but he’s remained a tireless worker.

“He’s always had good footwork,” Anderson said. “I think he’s gotten better in the last few years. We have tried to work with him more on getting angles to the basket and getting himself to where he can use that footwork. He’s not a terrible shooter, but he doesn’t shoot from outside. So, he has to work to get angles, and I think he’s done a lot better job of that lately.”

Rosburg knows his Mizzou career expires March 5. The Tigers won’t play in the SEC Tournament as a result of sanctions announced last month, so he’s trying to make the most of his final weeks of college basketball.

“I’m just going out and playing honestly,” he said. “I guess, since the postseason ban, there’s not as much pressure, and we just go out and try to play and try to win and not worry about missing shots or whatever it may be. We’re just trying to have fun and enjoy what’s left.”

Missouri hosts Tennessee at 2 p.m. Saturday at Mizzou Arena. It’s the annual Gold Rush Game (fans should wear gold) and also the Rally for Rhyan Game in support of assistant coach Brad Loos’ daughter, Rhyan, who’s battling neuroblastoma.

Tod Palmer: 816-234-4389, @todpalmer