How Missouri can reach its potential
The Missouri Tigers are looking to get back on track Tuesday night as they host the No. 5-ranked Florida Gators (9 p.m. ET, ESPN). This will be easier said than done, as the Gators dominated their first meeting from the very beginning. Mizzou's live-ball turnovers allowed Florida to get out in transition, and the Tigers had no answer for the Gators' ball-screen offense.
But beyond the obvious benefits a win over Florida would give Missouri in terms of its conference standing and tournament résumé, it's important for the Tigers because they need to begin making the improvements needed to fulfill their considerable potential. There is a large gap between how Missouri has played so far this season and what this team is capable of.
A big reason is that the Tigers are still developing their team chemistry. They rely significantly on four transfers, including Jabari Brown, who did not join the team until the second semester. Laurence Bowers was injured at the start of league play and missed four games. The Tigers have struggled on the road, although they have been excellent at home, which is the sign of a talented team that lacks the intangibles needed to play through adversity.
I believe Missouri is a team that can make a run in the NCAA tournament if it can get healthy and develop team trust on both ends of the floor. Here are the five ways in which the Tigers must improve between now and season's end to reach their potential.
1. Get Phil Pressey to trust his teammates more
Pressey is a dynamic playmaker who sees plays early and is a willing passer. But the Tigers need him to do a better job of making the simple play and better decisions. He needs to understand that the pass that leads to the pass is as important as an assist, and to have more trust in his teammates to make plays without taking on too much of a burden for himself.
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