Mizzou basketball season unofficially tips off Friday night when the Tigers host Harris-Stowe in an exhibition game at Mizzou Arena. Leading up to tip off, KBIA Sports Extra reporters Ross Taylor and JJ Stankevitz will be discussing what they expect from each of the members on Missouri’s roster this season.
JJ: Kim English enters his junior season as someone the national media have keyed on to be the go-to scorer, the leader, the star of a top-15 Mizzou team. While he’s proven himself to be an above-average scorer from behind the arc and, more recently, in the lane, he did lead Mizzou in turnovers last season. Do English’s turnover yips subside in his junior year or do they continue to be arguably the only thing that’s holding his offensive game back?
Ross: That’s the $64,000 question and my crystal ball is broken. When English was effective last season, he wasn’t all that different from the type of player he was when he went off against Marquette in the 2009 NCAA Tournament. For as good of a 3-point shooter as English is, he’s at his best when he drives the lane and either finishes inside or gets fouled. It’s not a confusing gameplan — it’d be illogical for defenses not to challenge his jumpshot, so the pump fake and drive should continue to be an option. But like you said, his ball security at times is a concern when he puts the ball on the floor. There’s no hard evidence to say English’s turnovers will increase OR decrease this year, but they will be awfully telling of Missouri’s offensive success. Do you think English’s greatest asset — his desire to be “THE Guy” — is also his biggest flaw?
JJ: English wants to be “THE Guy,” but has to be smart about it. If he’s having an off day from three-point range, he needs to look to pass first. If he’s turning the ball over in the lane, he needs to stay away from it. It seems like so often we see a snowball effect from English, where if he’s on fire, he can go for 20+ points, but if he’s struggling, he’ll try to shoot and drive his way out of it, only digging himself a deeper hole. But I don’t have a problem with English trying to shoot his way out of slumps as much as others, as the light at the end of the tunnel is English returning to being Mizzou’s best home-run scoring threat. For better of for worse, he’s Mizzou’s go-to guy (which statistical savant Ken Pomeroy classified English as last year when he used on more than 28 percent of Mizzou’s possessions). Do you see English being Mizzou’s lone go-to player again this year, and is that an upshot of offensive design or English’s confidence?
Ross: I don’t know that I agree that English should stay away from the lane if he’s turning the ball over. He should definitely be smart with the ball, but he worked himself out several slumps a season ago by getting into the lane, getting fouled and getting his points at the line. I think English is Missouri’s “go-to” scorer by the most basic definition of the word, but I don’t think he’s the only option. We’ll touch on this in a future post, but I’m not sure the addition of Ricardo Ratliffe in the post affects anyone more positively than it does Kim English. Teams may be more reluctant to fly defenders out at English if there’s a presence waiting for them inside. Mizzou being a more complete team may make English a more complete player.