Missouri Tigers guard Jordan Clarkson (5) Mandatory Credit: Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports
One of the most dramatic and puzzling searches in recent memory for Mizzou sports is finally over.
Mystery solved. The Missouri Tigers have a new head basketball coach.
It was announced Monday that Mizzou has reached an agreement with Kim Anderson as its next coach. The University’s athletic department has scheduled a press conference for Tuesday to make it official. Anderson spent the last 12 seasons coaching the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, Mo., where he led the team to two consecutive national championships in division II.
Kim Anderson is returning to Columbia to be the head coach at Mizzou. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
The situation regarding Missouri’s search for a new coach was shrouded in mystery leading all the way up to the announcement which finally dispelled all of the rumors and gossip.
What was known was that the Missouri’s Board of Curators were scheduled to meet Monday at University Hall in Columbia to approve a new contract for the next coach.
Anderson de-boarded a plane that flew from Warrensburg to Columbia Regional Airport at around the time the meeting was scheduled, a strange flight plan for anyone to take unless they needed to get there in a hurry.
Turns out, he was in a hurry… to sign his new deal.
Anderson may not be a household name for many, but he’s an accomplished head coach with strong ties to MU– he played his college ball for the Tigers under Norm Stewart from 1973-1977, and graduated from the University. In addition to his tenure at UCM, he also served as a member of MU’s staff under Stewart’s watch for 11 seasons in two stents and also was an assistant at Baylor for six seasons.
He went 274-94 at at Central Missouri, leading the Mules to seven division-II tournaments.
The position at Mizzou became vacant after former Tigers head coach Frank Haith bolted for Tulsa amid heavy criticism from fans after the team failed to make the tournament in March and had been severely lacking even semi-decent recruiting.
Speculation swirled around who would be brought on to replace Haith and the rumors intensified as the mystery lagged on, hanging many following the situation in suspense. Among notable names that have been widely rumored is former UCLA coach Ben Howland, who was believed to be the front-runner as early as Monday morning. Others included Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall, Louisiana Tech’s Michael White, VCU’s Shaka Smart and Purdue coach Matt painter.
Anderson, however, was considered the optimal choice by many. Tiger nation overwhelmingly wanted someone who was familiar with Mizzou and who had an advantage in recruiting. What he lacks in experience at the big level, he makes up for with his proven success at recruiting and guiding teams to success, especially in tournaments.
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Both qualities are things that Mizzou is unequivocally desperate for. The Tigers have been stuck in College Basketball’s Sierra Desert since an Elite Eight appearance in 2008. Columbia is parched from success on the hardwood and Anderson will be under a close microscope from the get-go.
He enters a less than favorable situation, even for the most experienced of coaches. He’ll have a tough go at it at first, as the Tigers roster is nearly depleted of talent and failed to bring in recruits. Anderson knows the area well and will get good players to commit, it’s just going to take some time.
Patience is a virtue, and it’s going to have to be one that everyone in Columbia strictly abides by. Tiger fans have a particularly low tolerance for failure, but they will have to give Anderson due process and let him have the time to rebuild the program from the ground up.