What else can you say other than “I am glad that this nightmare experiment is over”? That’s really all I have, other than the roughly 800 words that are going to come after this sentence.
I hated the Kim Anderson hire from the start. Absolutely hated it. I couldn’t help but smile during his press conference, though. He was charming, charismatic and funny. Plus, it’s every alum’s dream to take the helm of one of your alma mater’s sports programs. I was watching a man live out his lifelong dream, and then it all fell apart the minute we said “go.”
Kim was a lackluster recruiter, ran off any good player who he inherited from Frank Haith (and even several of his own), made atrocious late game decisions and non-decisions, made excuse after excuse in press conferences and overall ran what should be a perennial top 25 program into the ground.
The mess he inherited from Frank Haith’s hasty departure seemed to be the go-to excuse for KA fanboys. It holds water. Haith left the program an absolute mess, but he also left behind a pretty decent incoming recruiting class (Teki Gill-Caesar and Jakeenan Gant were top 100 players). There was something that could be built upon. Every player in that class was gone before the end of Kim’s second season. The NCAA was breathing down Haith’s neck by the end of his tenure, and like the rat he is, he jumped ship before having to face the music, leaving Mizzou holding the bag on impermissible benefits violations. 23 vacated wins, scholarship limits and one postseason ban later, blah blah blah. Kim inherited a bad situation, sure. Mike Anderson came into a very similar situation in 2006 and had the Tigers within a few missed free throws of their first ever Final Four in his third year. Goddamn Kemba Walker.
There were never any signs of improvement under KA. None. He never had a top 25 recruiting class, never won a conference road game (do you know how utterly impossible that is at a school like Mizzou in a league like the SEC?), couldn’t close on Michael Porter, Jr., never beat a ranked team. His resume reads like an Alcorn State interim coach.
The shame of it all is that this could very well happen to one of my friends in 30 years. Kim was brought in as the old guard’s white knight. Norm’s boy. Norm Stewart is one of my 10 favorite people in the world, but Kim hadn’t been near a major college basketball program in nearly two decades. I can imagine that this massive failure is hard to swallow for those who boldly stood behind the hire. Kim represented a return to the glory days of Hearnes Center and cutting down the nets at Kemper Arena. Norm’s boy. What wasn’t to love?
I wanted like hell for Kim to work out, but the end of his colorless tenure needs to be a step towards firebombing the hell out of the sheer bumfuckery that has plaged Mizzou’s campus for the last two years. The stretch of horrid decision making and sheer absence of ideological and actual, appointed leadership on Mizzou’s campus recently has left True Sons like myself absolutely exhausted.
The Mizzou job is a good-if-not-great job. Always has been. Kansas City, St. Louis and Mid-Missouri produce top 100 caliber talent every. single. year. Millions of people live within a two hour drive to the arena. The facilities on campus are among the best in the SEC. Mizzou Arena should/can be the toughest place to play in the SEC. Rabid fanbase. Drop dead gorgeous campus. Great people. It’s everything you could want from a job with such medium expectations.
Mizzou fans aren’t hard to please. I wouldn’t say they are easy to please either, but the point remains, I don’t think I’m asking for much when I ask for a top 25 basketball program in a basketball crazy state that occasionally competes for conference titles and regularly makes it to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.
Mizzou basketball used to be a major point of pride in the Show-Me State. I don’t have to give the history lesson. There’s no more time for half-measures. I want a full freaking measure.
Give me Cuonzo Martin, who has the connections to lock down the wellspring of NBA talent that has consistently slipped through Mizzou’s fingers in St. Louis.
Give me Scott Drew, the most underappreciated coach in the nation, who took a program that was the center of a murder investigation and subsequent murder cover up and turned them into one of the 10 best programs in the country.
Give me Gregg Marshall, who has owned the Missouri Valley conference and has taken WICHITA STATE to a Final Four.
Give me someone. For the love of god, give me someone who can take the wheel of this wayward ghost ship of a program and steer it back in the right direction.
I don’t ask for much. Gary Pinkel never won a conference championship and he will have a statue built outside of Faurot Field (soon to be Faurot Field at Pinkel Stadium) in the next five years. Norm Stewart never made a Final Four and they named the court at Mizzou Arena after him. There’s not much of a precedent in Columbia other than “don’t suck.”
There’s not much left to say. Get it right. Don’t screw this up again. Go get the guy. It’s been too long. I want to feel good again.