Webb: Missouri needs to move on from good guy/bad hire

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Missouri’s loss to Eastern Illinois was the latest in a string of embarrassing losses under third-year coach Kim Anderson, who has lost 49 games in two-and-a-half seasons.

“I feel bad for Kim Anderson. I really want this to work for him. I want him to win big at Missouri.”

That or some variation of if has been posted on Twitter, Facebook and message boards across the Internet. If you’re a Missouri fan, you want Anderson succeed.

It’s not happening.

If back-to-back 20-loss seasons weren’t enough to prove that, Saturday’s embarrassing home loss to another directional school, Eastern Illinois, should be plenty of evidence.

Two-and-a-half years into his tenure, Anderson is 24-49. Twenty-four and forty-nine. He’s winning less than one-third of his games, and he’s doing it in front of some of the smallest crowds in school history.

Anderson inherited a mess. Former director Mike Alden lit the atomic bomb by meddling with a successful coach (Mike Anderson) and hiring a career con man (Frank Haith). The latter nuked the program in just three years, leaving behind a slew of NCAA infractions and a depleted roster.

Alden ended up settling for Anderson, a True Son, national champion at the University of Central Missouri and a great man. Unfortunately, despite those enviable qualities, it was the worst hire Alden could have made.

It was obvious early on that Anderson was in over his head. In his first game, he lost to UMKC 69-61 at home. In less than three years, Anderson has lost to several mid-majors, including two this season in North Carolina Central and Eastern Illinois. Against power conference opponents, he is 6-44. Six and forty-four.

After two miserable seasons in which he went a combined 19-44, Anderson finally did what he should have in his first season with a complete overhaul, resulting in a roster that consists of 11 freshmen and sophomores.

With one of the youngest teams in the country, growing pains were and are expected. But Missouri should not lose to MEAC and Ohio Valley Conference teams at home. That points to a lack of talent and a lack of coaching said talent.

Anderson can no longer say he isn’t coaching his players. This roster is his. It’s also one of the reasons he needs to be replaced. If he can’t recruit high-major talent, he shouldn’t be coaching in a major conference.

At the very least, after two years, the program should show signs of progress. The most depressing thing about Missouri basketball is that the players are regressing. Whatever confidence they had after pushing national power Xavier a month ago is long gone.

Anderson came to Missouri needing a backhoe to clean up the mess. Unfortunately, he brought a spoon.

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I’m into fitness, take 20: From the Windy City

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Missouri coach Frank Haith and I in Chicago. Before the weight loss, I wouldn't have had the confidence to engage a famous coach in conversation, at least not since I left newspapers. Then, it was a job.

I’ve discussed several benefits of weight loss and fitness in previous blogs, including looking better and feeling better. Often, there are benefits I’ve never considered. That was the case this week during my trip to Chicago.

In the Windy City on business, I still managed to get a run and plenty of walking in. On Thursday morning, I crawled out of bed at 5:15 a.m. (about as easy as resisting deep dish pizza while in town, which I scarfed down like a ravenous dog) and jogged to Lake Shore Drive through the darkness of the city streets.

In and of itself, running through Chicago is a treat. The contrast between the hustle and bustle of downtown during the day to the near silence of pre-dawn Chicago is remarkable.

The best part of my six-mile run – other than burning about 1,000 calories – was jogging along the lake front. I hit the lake about 15 minutes before sunrise. About halfway into the run, the sun slowly rose above the horizon, a beautiful sight and one most of us either rarely see or simply take for granted.

Running along the lake front was one of the highlights of my trip. What a beautiful view.

The city was waking up on my way back to the hotel, but much of my last mile was alongside the river that snakes through Chicago. Another beautiful sight the folks there probably take for granted.

I also spent much of my off time Thursday and Friday walking around the city, taking multiple photos of amazing architecture, unique shops and buildings and people being people. I didn’t track how much I walked, but it was several miles.

Not until now, when I’m 35,000 feet above the ground, does it occur to me that none of the above would have happened a few years ago. Sure, I could walk, but not far and I sure as hell wouldn’t have been up at 5:15 in the morning to run.

Moments like these are one of the many reasons I started working out again. They make all the sweat – and there’s a ridiculous amount of that – and even the pain (shin splints, plantar fasciitis and a bruised heel) worth it.

I’ve also written about confidence many times. It’s truly awesome how much better you feel about yourself when you improve your health.

In one day in Chicago, I ran on the lake front, had deep dish pizza and hit Club English to hang out with Frank Haith, Phil Pressey, James Franklin and Dave Steckel. The only negative? Kim English wasn't there. I mean, come on. Kim English ... Club English?

Thursday afternoon, I discovered on Twitter that a Missouri caravan was in Chicago later that evening. Seriously, what are the odds that I’d be in Chicago at the same time as Frank Haith, James Franklin, Phil Pressey and Dave Steckel?

In the past, I probably wouldn’t have gone anyway. Why? Confidence. I immediately would have thought about my appearance and how shy I would be around “celebrities,” even though I spent much of my career covering folks like that in newspapers.

But I never once thought I wasn’t going to that caravan on Thursday. I was one of the first people there, and one of the last to leave. Because I felt good about myself, because I had the confidence, I did just fine, chatting up Tiger fans I’ve never met, a coach who’s essentially become a legend in Missouri in a year and arguably the best returning point guard in college basketball.

Above all, getting in shape is about your health. It’s about living longer, being stronger. But it’s also about quality of life. When you begin to do things you’ve never done …. There are simply no words to describe how great that feels.

And, as I’ve said from day one, if I can do it, anybody can.

Faith in Missouri’s Haith: It could be better … and worse

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Faith in Haith. Let’s hope that works out for Missouri fans, who’ve been put through the ringer (again) during the search for new basketball coach Frank Haith.

Never before has a fan base been more united in its disdain for the decision athletics director Mike Alden made to hire the former Miami coach.

But, Haith had a great opening press conference, and I expect him to do much better than most predict.

Enough of the seriousness. Here’s a look at five hires that would have been better, and five that would have been worse for the Tigers:

FIVE BETTER HIRES

JESUS

A common belief among Missouri fans is that god hates the Tigers. What better way to get on the big guy’s side than to hire his son? Plus, he did have a long NBA career …

http://www.theonion.com/articles/christ-returns-to-nba,1996/

NORMAN DALE

Yes, I realize he’s 109 years old (not to mention fictitious), but he does share a name with the best coach in the school’s history …

PATCHES O’HOULIHAN

Hey, he got a group of losers to beat White Goldman …

PHIL WESTON

But only if he brings his assistant, Juice Box …

MR. MIYAGI

Anybody who convinces a guy that the crane kick can’t be defended is a genius (And “Get him a body bag” is a wildly underrated movie quote) …

FIVE WORSE HIRES

MEPHISTOPHELES (THE DEVIL)

Some Missouri fans say the Tigers sold their soul to the guy (still waiting on the return, too). And let’s be honest, Satan has a long track record of losing …

CHARLIE SHEEN

Yeah, he talks a lot about how he’s wiiiinnnninnngg, but after watching this, I beg to differ …

QUIN SNYDER

“Don’t worry about the score …” You can’t make this stuff up, folks …

DAVE BLISS

It doesn’t get much worse than organizing a smear campaign against a homicide victim who happened to play on your basketball team …

MIKE ANDERSON 

Let’s see: His team completely regressed the last two months of his final year at Mizzou, he couldn’t (or wouldn’t) recruit St. Louis, one of his star players and a great ambassador for the school (Kim English) was considering transferring if Anderson came back next season, and he couldn’t have left in a worse way. Missouri is better off without him …