Tag Archives: Phil Pressey

Mizzou looks to rebuild, again, following NIT exit

By The Associated Press

COLUMBIA — Earnest Ross sat back in his chair and stared at the ceiling of the interview room.
Missouri had just lost in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament to Southern Mississippi, and the senior guard started to realize his college career was over.

“I had a great time at Missouri,” Ross said as his eyes reddened. “The fans did a great job of bringing me in. Coach (Frank) Haith and the rest of the coaching staff did a great job of coaching me. I had a great time here and wouldn’t Read more of this post

Mizzou slips past Southern Illinois, 72-59

Salukis were down by 1 at the half

By The Associated Press

COLUMBIA — Mike Clarkson jokingly sent Missouri’s Tim Fuller a text asking the coach if he would let his son score a bit more after a 14-point performance in the Tigers’ opener.

Fuller proved prescient when he told the nervous father not to worry.

Junior guard Jordan Clarkson scored a career-high 31 points and added five assists in his second game with Missouri, Read more of this post

Fair is fair — Pinkel’s call to pay players should extend to all

darren hellwege logo

Darren Hellwege, Sports Commentator

Earlier this week on his blog, coach Gary Pinkel endorsed paying college players. Since this is a pretty controversial topic and Pinkel’s not known as a loose cannon with his opinions, it was a little surprising and a gauge of how important this is to him. If you’re close enough to the athletic program to see how the athletes live day to day, this is an understandable position. He genuinely cares about the young men on his team, and the lack of money is a problem for some of them.

On the other hand, he made a very serious error in judgment in how he wants to see it done, one that calls into question the notion of fairness.

Pinkel said it’s fair to “give them additional money per semester or per quarter to help them and pay them back for all their sacrifices,” and he’s right. Yes, they do get a scholarship, in the case of most football players a full scholarship. Their tuition and books and room and food are provided for four years, and that’s not an inconsiderable expense at all. I have kids in college and know the amount of money we’re talking about can be major.

On the other hand, for athletes from families that aren’t well-to-do, it’s still a difficult situation. I’ve known guys who couldn’t afford to take a date out because of lack of money. And while the training table feeds them well, every college kid wants to be able to go to the movies or grab a pizza now and then. Where does that little extra come from?

For many college students, the answer is to go get a part-time job. For example, when I was in school, I was working part-time at a commercial radio station for some extra spending money, just like many work at a restaurant or grocery store. Varsity athletes can’t do that, and that’s probably a good thing. As we’re learning this week from the reports out of Oklahoma State, the old “we hired the big football star for a job at our car dealership” is a situation just asking for abuse.

So yes, absolutely, pay the athletes a small extra amount, not a huge salary but just walking around money that any 20-year-old needs. I agree whole-heartedly with Pinkel on this, and appreciate that he took this stand out of what I consider to be a genuine concern for his athletes.

But…

Sadly, while we hear a lot about the “family” atmosphere within Missouri athletics, Pinkel chose to only support this assistance for male athlete — football and basketball players. That’s terribly wrong, and when he said “it’s only fair” about paying his players, it’s hypocritical to then do something as unfair as to only pay athletes in these big name sports.

It’s wrong for several reasons. Let’s hit the obvious one first—it’s illegal. It’s an obvious violation of Title IX to pay male athletes and not female athletes. Even if it wasn’t morally wrong, you just can’t do it. If they’re going to pay athletes, they’re going to have to do it for all the athletes.

The female athletes, and those men in other sports, put in just as much time as the football and basketball players, and face the same obstacles to getting a part time job as the football or basketball guys.

Pinkel raised the fact that these sports bring in millions of dollars. That shouldn’t have a thing to do with this. Turning a profit is not the purpose of the University of Missouri or the athletic program. There’s a place for “rewarding” athletes for “creating revenue,” and that’s the NFL and NBA. College isn’t about that at all, the theory of “it’s valuable if it makes money” does not belong in higher education.

The idea of “football and men’s basketball bring in all the loot” isn’t true across the board at all. In many schools the cost of a football program exceeds revenue. To make this work, every school has to pay the same amount to all players. If you think recruiting is a mess now, wait till you see what happens when there’s an open bidding war for the top 15-year-old wide receiver phenom in the nation. God save us.

Also, the amount of money being created by the sports of James Franklin and Phil Pressey isn’t greater than that of the sports of Kearston Peoples or David Bonuchi because James and Phil are much better at their sport. Mizzou spends a great deal more advertising and publicizing the “major sports,” and the media pays a great deal more attention to them. Every day in the newspaper, on the radio and TV, the superstars of football and men’s basketball are given the spotlight, while athletes who may be equally deserving in other sports don’t receive that advantage. That’s why most of you are scratching your heads and going “who’s that?” when I just mentioned the SEC Diver of the Year and member of the USA Diving Team (Bonuchi) and an All-American shot putter (Peoples).

Bonuchi has everything a college sports hero should have, were he in a sport we paid more attention to. He’s a three-time All-American and SEC Diver of the Year. He’s a hometown boy who attended Hickman High School, is on the USA Diving Team, made All-SEC academically, is the son of two Mizzou grads and has movie-idol good looks.  But because there aren’t ads running all day for the swim team and because the media isn’t talking about them constantly, he’s not a household name and his team isn’t a revenue producer. The same goes for Peoples, one of the top shot putters in the nation.

It’s certainly through no fault of their own that their sports aren’t money makers, and that shouldn’t be the standard upon which we choose who is and isn’t worthy.  Even the biggest names, like Chelsea Thomas or Molly Kreklow, aren’t known off campus the way Gary Pinkel’s and Frank Haith’s Tigers are, but that’s not really what ought to matter.

But if the University of Missouri is going to pay extra so Tiger athletes can have a little less hardship from being part of varsity sports, Kearston, David, Chelsea and Molly are just as deserving as Dorial, James, and Phil.

Pay them? Absolutely.

But pay them all.

Darren Hellwege is a member of Football Writers Association of America and United States Basketball Writers Association  

Phil Pressey declares for NBA draft, leaves behind inexperienced Mizzou backcourt

By Matthew Fairburn

Frank Haith, right, huddles with the team during a time out in the Auburn game. Missouri is 14-0 at home and winless on the road.

The Missouri Tigers will have a very different look next year with the loss of Phil Pressey, center, graduating seniors and transfers.

Missouri junior guard Phil Pressey announced his intention to enter the 2013 NBA draft, ending his career as a Tiger and leaving behind an inexperienced backcourt in Columbia.

Pressey, who has signed with an agent, announced his decision on Wednesday. According to NCAA rules, when an athlete signs with an agent her or she is no longer able to compete at the collegiate level.

Pressey’s departure comes on the heels of Negus Webster-Chen announcing he will transfer. The only other point guard who has seen significant action for Missouri this season was Keion Bell, who is a senior.

The two likely candidates to take over at point guard are Jordan Clarkson and Wesley Clark. Clarkson sat out the 2012-13 season after transferring from Tulsa, where he average 16.5 point per game as a sophomore.

Clark, meanwhile, will enter the program as a true freshman. A four-star recruit of Romulus, Mich., according to Rivals.com, Clark has the promise to become Missouri’s starting point guard eventually, but it’s tough say how much he will contribute right away. Even Pressey only started 12 games as a true freshman.

Pressey’s production won’t be easy to replace. While he shot only 37 percent from the field, he averaged 11.9 points and 7.1 assists per game this season, setting the Missouri career record for assists in the process.

Despite the impressive statistics, Pressey was plagued by questionable decision-making late in games and finished his career 0-3 in NCAA tournament games. Leaving Missouri without winning was the hardest part of the decision for him.

“I wish we could have brought home a national championship banner, but coming to Mizzou was the best decision of my life,” Pressey said in a release from the school.

Beyond the depleted backcourt, Missouri also has to find a way to replace seniors Laurence Bowers and Alex Oriakhi, who accounted for a big chunk of the team’s production in the paint. Tony Criswell received more minutes than any returning frontcourt player, but the team’s roster is inexperienced in that area as well.

With three scholarships remaining, coach Frank Haith still has a chance to add to the roster. With the departure of Phil Pressey, the last of coach Mike Anderson’s recruits is now gone, and the Tigers’ roster for the 2013-14 season will have been built entirely by Haith and his staff.

Mizzou’s Pressey declares for NBA draft, “not testing the waters”

Compiled by Matthew Fairburn

Missouri junior guard Phil Pressey announced his intention to enter the 2013 NBA Draft on Wednesday morning, forgoing his final season of eligibility with the Tigers.

After a season in which Pressey became one of the polarizing figures on the team, putting up impressive assist numbers but shooting a poor percentage from the field and struggling late in games, much of the reaction on Twitter was critical of Pressey.

Here is a look at what fans had to say about Pressey’s decision to leave and his future in the NBA.

[View the story “Twitter reacts to Phil Pressey’s decision to enter NBA Draft” on Storify]

Mizzou men lose in the first round, 84-72 to Colorado State

By the Associated Press

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Dorian Green scored 17 of his 26 points in the first half and eighth-seeded Colorado State used good shooting and great rebounding to run away from No. 9 Missouri 84-72 Thursday night in the NCAA tournament.

Green, who went scoreless with five turnovers in last year’s second-round upset to Murray State, did much better this time as the Rams shot nearly 58 percent in the first half.

Minnesota transfer and Rams big man Colton Iverson outrebounded Missouri by himself through 27 minutes and finished with 13 boards.

First-year Rams coach Larry Eustachy earned the victory with his fourth tournament team, but the road gets tougher as they advance to face top-seeded Louisville in Saturday’s third-round Midwest Regional game at Rupp Arena.

Phil Pressey’s 20 points led the Tigers (23-11). Alex Oriakhi scored 16 and Jabari Brown added 14.

Greg Smith and Jon Octeus each added 12 points while Wes Eikmeier added 11 for Colorado State (26-8), which was rarely threatened by Missouri.

The lopsided outcome was surprising considering the teams’ similarities that made this an intriguing matchup.

Besides balanced offenses with at least four starters averaging in double figures, Colorado State and Missouri also have thrived on the glass. The Rams entered the game with a rebound margin of 12.1 per game, tops in the nation, with the Tigers third at 9.6.

Iverson averaged 14.7 points per game to key Colorado State’s return to the tournament along with Eustachy, who led Southern Mississippi here last year. The 6-foot-10 senior has been helped by Eikmeier (12.7 points) and Green (12.8 points) and Smith (11.1).

Missouri meanwhile featured one of the field’s most balanced offenses, with Laurence Bowers (14.4 points) leading five starters averaging at least 11 points per game. Pressey has been one of the Tigers’ most interesting stories, a talented guard who has tended to make mistakes in key moments.

That made for an entertaining first half that Colorado State led 47-38 by setting the offensive pace before falling into an end-to-end game more to Missouri’s liking.

The Rams shot 15 of 26 (58 percent) in the first half and seemed primed to run away from the Tigers. Green was 3 for 3 from beyond the arc.

Missouri was 15 of 30 in the first 20 minutes with four 3-pointers.

Missouri closed to 49-45 early in the second half, but the Rams responded with a 17-4 surge for their biggest lead at 66-49 lead.

Mizzou basketball lands three on AP All-SEC Teams

By Matt Fairburn

The Associated Press named three Missouri Tigers to its All-Southeastern Conference Teams on Monday. Phil Pressey earned first team honors, while Laurence Bowers earned second team honors and Alex Oriakhi was named an honorable mention.

Last week, Pressey was given first team all-conference honors from the coaches, who also named Bowers to the second team. Pressey leads the SEC in assists, averaging 7.1 per game. The junior guard is also averaging career highs in points (11.6) and rebounds (3.4).

Meanwhile, after struggling through a knee injury early in the season, Bowers came on strong at the end of the season to earn the praise of the SEC media and coaches. The fifth year senior is in the top 10 of the conference for scoring, averaging 14.4 points per game.

Bowers has enjoyed success this season alongside Oriakhi, who transferred from the University of Connecticut for his senior season. Oriakhi has played particularly well for the Tigers down the stretch. He has 11 double-doubles this season, including one in the team’s opening round victory in the SEC tournament over Texas A&M. He led the team in points in both games of the conference tournament.

Missouri enters the NCAA Tournament as a No. 9 seed and will face No. 8 seed Colorado State on Thursday March 21 at 8:20 p.m. Central time in Lexington, Ky.

Haith still waiting for Missouri roster to click

By the Associated Press

Teammates Phil Pressey (1) Keion Bell (5) Laurence Bowers (21) and  Earnest Ross (33) take the floor against No.5 Florida on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.

Inconsistent play has plagued the Tigers this season, with veterans Phil Pressey (1) and Laurence Bowers (21) and transfer Keion Bell (5.) Along with Earnest Ross (33) in this Feb. 19, 2013, file photo.

ST. LOUIS — All season, Missouri flashed signs it could be a dangerous team come March. Unfortunately, there were nearly as many times that it showed much less promise.

There is a reason the Tigers are a No. 9 seed in the Midwest Regional. Coach Frank Haith has had to integrate a group of transfers into the system.

“It has been a challenge, but it’s been a challenge that’s come together because we’re still playing,” Haith said.

Leading rebounder Alex Oriakhi (Connecticut) and guard Keion Bell (Pepperdine), who led the team in scoring in Southeastern Conference games, are one-year senior rentals. Sophomore Jabari Brown (Oregon) is averaging 13.7 points and junior Earnest Ross (Auburn) is the SEC’s best player off the bench, averaging 10 points and five rebounds.

The Sporting News ranked that one of the best transfer classes in history.

The Tigers (23-10) are the only major school in the nation with six players averaging in double figures and are second in the country in rebounding, reflecting depth and versatility. But they have yet to put it all together for Haith, last year’s national coach of the year, and get a tough test out of the box against No. 8 seed Colorado State (25-8) on Thursday in Lexington, Ky.

Missouri was a perfect 16-0 at home, including a victory over then-No. 5 Florida, but just 2-8 on the road.

“You’re not going to play a team that’s not any good,” Haith said. “So, if you don’t play with a sense of urgency, you’re going to be going home.”

The 6-foot-8 Oriakhi has been a presence inside, averaging 11 points and 8.6 rebounds. He has taken on a much larger role than he had with Connecticut’s national title team in 2011.

Haith often touted Bell for all-SEC honors. The last 11 games of the regular season, Bell averaged 15.7 points on 58 percent shooting.

Brown leads the team in 3-pointers even though he wasn’t eligible until the semester break in mid-December, and had a pair of 23-point efforts. Ross had a season-high 23 points against Auburn, his old school.

Melding that group with point guard Phil Pressey, the lone holdover starter from the 30-win team in Haith’s first season, has not been easy. Pressey was a first-team All-SEC pick with six games of 10 or more assists and four double-doubles for points and assists, a school record, yet struggled with a spate of questionable late-game decisions.

The tournament gives Pressey a chance to put those troubles behind him.

“It doesn’t matter who you play, anybody can be beat, everybody brings their A game come NCAA tournament,” Pressey said. “Our mind-set is we’re going win the whole thing, so we’re going to bring our A game just like everybody else.”

Forward Laurence Bowers, who missed last season with a knee injury, is the only other player with NCAA experience.

“A lot of teams don’t get this opportunity,” Bowers said. “So whenever you see your name it brings, I don’t know, it’s kind of joyous.”

Missouri is in the tournament for the fifth straight season, matching the school’s longest runs, from 1986-90 under Norm Stewart and from 1999-03 under Stewart and Quin Snyder.

Pressey not worried about Mizzou’s No. 9 seed

By the Associated Press

ST. LOUIS — Selection Sunday held zero allure for Phil Pressey, who wasted no brain power fretting about where Missouri might fit in after an inconsistent season.

CSU infoThe Tigers’ point guard, whose scattershot late-game decision-making was a large contributing factor in several almost-wins, was just fine with the No. 9 seed in the Midwest Regional and a matchup against Colorado State (25-8) on Thursday in Lexington, Ky.

“If it was up to me, I’d be in the gym shooting somewhere, then somebody would come tell me where we are,” Pressey said after the team’s selection watch gathering in Columbia. “You have to play everybody sooner or later. I just feel like the only thing you control is your game, it doesn’t matter what seed you are or who you play.”

Missouri (23-10) is in the tournament for the fifth straight season, tying the school record, and second straight time under coach Frank Haith. Unlike last March when the school was a No. 2 seed coming off a Big 12 tournament championship, there’s little buzz surrounding this year’s edition that enters having lost two of its last three.

Pressey, the preseason SEC player of the year, is the lone returning starter from last season’s 30-win team that appeared primed for a deep run but was one and done after getting upset by No. 15 seed Norfolk State.

“We shot over 50 percent from 3, they played the game of their lives,” Haith said. “You’ve got to be prepared for that when you play in a tournament setting. That’s what this tournament is about, guys living out a dream and making one shining moment.”

All season, Haith has worked on melding a roster heavy on transfers including two seniors, forward Alex Oriakhi and guard Keion Bell.

Oriakhi played on Connecticut’s 2011 national title team. He’ll offer simple advice to teammates.

“I just tell them, if you’re fortunate to get past the first one, the rest of them are very hard,” Oriakhi said. “All I tell them is take it one day at a time, take it one game at a time, one possession at a time. Just don’t think too far ahead.”

Missouri is the only school in the country with six players averaging in double figures, making depth a strength.

“None of us want our season to be over with,” said forward Laurence Bowers, a fifth-year senior who missed last season with a knee injury and the acknowledged team leader. “I really think we have a team that can go on a special run.

The Tigers are a No. 9 seed due to inconsistency and a failure to close out games, especially on the road where they were just 2-8 and dropped out of the Top 25. Squandering a 14-point second-half cushion in a two-point loss to Mississippi in the SEC tournament quarterfinals was just the latest example.

Saturday was difficult for Haith, who re-played the Ole Miss loss in his head, but as the time neared for the bracket unveiling, the excitement returned.

“I’ve never taken it for granted, I know how excited I am,” Haith said. “I don’t know if people realize how hard it is to make the NCAA tournament. There’s a lot of good teams, a lot of great tradition not making the tournament.”

Haith keeps insisting he sees signs that he has a team ready to contend.

“The sense of urgency, I thought we had it in the conference tournament,” Haith said. “Obviously, Ole Miss played great down the stretch and beat us, but I think this team has been playing great the last half of the year.

“I’m really encouraged by how we’ve been playing, and now you compete for a national championship.”

Bowers, Pressey earn SEC conference awards

By Matthew Fairburn

Phil Pressey and Laurence Bowers were named to All-Southeastern Conference teams today. Pressey earned first team honors, while Bowers landed on the second team.

While Pressey has drawn criticism for his performance late in games, the SEC coaches recognized him for another outstanding statistical season. He leads the conference in assists per game with 7.1 and is No. 7 nationally in that category. His 221 assists on the season are just two shy of his Missouri single-season record of 223, which he set last season.

After being named to the SEC Community Service Team on Monday, Bowers was named Second Team All-SEC on Tuesday. Despite missing five games with a knee injury, Bowers lead Missouri with seven 20-point games, including three straight entering the conference tournament. Bowers is averaging 14.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game while shooting more than 55 percent from the field.

The Tigers tip off in the SEC Tournament on Thursday night in Nashville, Tenn. Missouri will play the winner of Texas A&M and Auburn at 9 p.m. Central time.

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