|Denied Final Four trip, Missouri looks to future|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 30 March 2009 15:41|
Now, university leaders are turning their attention to keeping the coach who led the resurrection.
Mike Anderson won the Big 12 tournament title and a school-record 31 victories before the Tigers were eliminated by top-seeded Connecticut in the NCAA tournament.
School officials want to increase Anderson's $850,000 annual salary to at least $1 million and extend his contract for five more years.
``We want Mike Anderson to be at the University of Missouri for a very long time,'' athletic director Mike Alden, who hired Anderson from Alabama-Birmingham in 2006 to replace Quin Snyder, said Monday night.
mson Tide on Friday lured Anthony Grant from Virginia Commonwealth.
Before the Connecticut game, Anderson offered one of his few public statements about his coaching status - neither acknowledging interest in any other job nor saying anything to quell the rumors.
``I'm excited about what we're doing at Missouri,'' he said. ``We are doing some great things. If you look at these kids I have up here, I'm excited about the future.''
Anderson's future could hinge on other coaching moves. If John Calipari leave Memphis for Kentucky, Memphis might target Anderson. Alden denied reports from some Tennessee media that Memphis had sought his permission to talk to Anderson.
``Frankly, that flat-out never happened,'' Alden said during the weekly Tiger Talk radio broadcast.
Alden did not directly respond to a question by Tiger Radio Network play-by-play announcer Mike Kelly about whether Georgia, another prospective Anderson suitor, had contacted him.
Anderson takes part in Tiger Talk for much of the season until the final few weeks and did not participate in Monday night's broadcast.
The Tigers, who finished 31-7, lose seniors DeMarre Carroll, Leo Lyons and Matt Lawrence. The three starters combined for nearly half of the team's scoring average of 81.5 points this season. Team leader Michael Anderson Jr., the coach's son, is also gone.
Zaire Taylor returning as seniors next season. They will be joined by three backcourt players who earned valuable experience as freshmen: Miguel Paul, Marcus Denmon and Kim English.
Filling the frontcourt gap created by the loss of Lyons and Carroll will be more challenging.
Coming off a 16-16 mark and 10th place Big 12 finish in 2007-08, few expected Missouri to be a Top 25 much of the season. The Tigers were picked to finish seventh in the conference.
All along, Anderson preached that his combination of high-pressure defense, physical conditioning and selfless teamwork could restore Missouri basketball to the lofty perch it occupied under longtime coach Norm Stewart.
The formula succeeded this season. The pinnacle was 102-91 victory against Memphis in the NCAA's round of 16. The Connecticut loss denied Missouri its first Final Four appearance.
``We came from nothing,'' Lawrence said, who under Snyder barely earned a scholarship and saw little playing time. ``I have never been part of a team that was more cohesive than this one.''
``The future looks very bright here for Missouri.''