Published March 20, 2010
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Missouri lost a trio of 1,000-point scorers off last year's Elite Eight team, yet there was no cause for alarm.
Not with Mike Anderson's program.
"Nothing changes," said Missouri's Kim English after the 10th-seeded Tigers knocked off No. 7 seed Clemson to advance to a second-round date with West Virginia on Saturday. "We're the same team as last year. The system never changes.
"We don't change what we do. It's the same thing. Attack, attack, attack."
There's not a single guy in the locker room who earned enough respect to get into Scout.com's Top 100 recruits coming out of high school.
English was the closest, and he remembers his final tally well: No. 111.
"You can't rate a guy's heart," Anderson said on Friday afternoon. "I'd like some Top 50 players (on my team). It would make my job easier, but you've got to work with what you've got."
Anderson has done that about as effectively as anyone in the nation.
Anderson has spent eight years as a head coach -- four at UAB and the last four at Missouri. He has five NCAA appearances in that span.
Pretty impressive for those two spots.
Missouri went on a shocking run last season at this time when DeMarre Carroll, Leo Lyons and Matt Carroll led the Tigers past Cornell, Marquette and a heavily favored Memphis team into an Elite Eight matchup against UConn.
The latest one to feel the wrath of the relentless pressure was a Clemson team that thrives on playing up-tempo.
This is what the other Tigers yearn for, to get out and run.
However, Oliver Purnell's Clemson team, which is one of the more athletic teams in the country, committed 20 turnovers and only forced nine in the loss.
It was no shock since Missouri leads the nation in forcing turnovers and steals yet only turns it over 13 times per game.
"They were quick, but I didn't think we were alert out there," Clemson point guard Demontez Stitt said.
Let's face it.
Missouri can rattle the best of 'em with the "Fastest 40 Minutes of Basketball."
The Tigers' next opponent is a West Virginia team that's weakness is its point-guard play.
I'm not calling the upset, but I wouldn't be shocked, either.
These guys may be individually anonymous, but they have earned an identity as a unit.
They take grinders, get them to buy into the team concept and play harder and faster than their opponent.
It's not that Missouri doesn't go after the McDonald's All-Americans, but the coaching staff almost always swings and misses.
"Our style is different than everyone else," Missouri assistant Matt Zimmerman said. "It sounds good, but it's tough.
"Plus, you come here, and you know you're not going to play 36 minutes a game."
English, who leads the team in scoring, logs about 24 minutes per contest. Defensive-minded guard Zaire Taylor averages about 27 per game.
"We come in, and it's about winning," said sophomore guard Marcus Denmon. "We sacrifice the other things."
"We know that everyone loves a winner," added English. "Everyone's happy when you win, and we've been winning."
It's because Mizzou, for the most part, plays with intensity and a sense of urgency. When it doesn't -- on that rare occasion such as the Big 12 first-round tournament loss last week -- it can't win.
"We had no sense of urgency," English said of the Big 12 tournament loss.
English and Keith Ramsey led the team with 20 points apiece in the victory over Clemson.
Laurence Bowers and J.T. Tiller also figured in double-digits, but it was Taylor, a starting guard, who may have flashed the widest smile in the locker room following the game despite scoring just three points and taking one shot.
Taylor and Tiller set the tone defensively for a team that creates havoc on both ends of the floor.
"Sometimes I sit there and enjoy what's going on," Anderson said. "It's crazy and erratic and the ball's popping up like popcorn."
And the movie reviews have been favorable.