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THE FINAL WORD l

FRED@INSIDECOLUMBIA.NET

Tiger Fans Welcome Kim Anderson’s Return To Mizzou

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here’s an almost palpable sense of anticipation in the air as Tiger fans await the beginning of the University of Missouri men’s basketball season. It’s hard to explain — nobody seems to have high expectations about the Tigers’ chances for postseason play, but nonetheless, Columbians are more than giddy about the return of Kim Anderson to the Mizzou hardwood. For some, Anderson’s return is about restoring a tradition that has significantly faded over the years. It’s a tradition that harkens back to the glory days in the Hearnes Center when kids named Sundvold, Stipanovich, Chievous and Prince played with an intensity that had fans standing on their feet, captivated by the energy in that arena. They remember a tradition that goes back to the days when a conference championship was more of an expectation than an unexpected fluke. The powerhouse that was Missouri basketball put Columbia in the national spotlight for weeks at a time in the 1980s and early ’90s. For many, Kim Anderson’s return symbolizes the return of honor and integrity that seemed to fade during the last 15 years. There’s a new sheriff in town and Kim Anderson seems to be a straight shooter with very little tolerance for off-the-court antics. Anderson stresses to his young players that pride and social responsibility come with wearing a Mizzou basketball jersey. Many of these young men haven’t been exposed to the kind of positive influence that Anderson offers. Just as significant as changing the culture of Missouri basketball, Anderson will bring back those longtime Missouri basketball fans who became disenfranchised when Norm Stewart left the program in 1999. The painful years of the Quin Snyder experiment were followed by a disconnected era when fans and alumni couldn’t relate to the coaching styles of Mike Anderson or Frank Haith. It’s already obvious that these fans feel a different, almost inexplicable, type of connection with Kim Anderson. This unique bond may be tied to his Missouri roots as a Sedalia native or perhaps the time he spent on the court during Missouri’s glory days. Whatever it is, it

“… Anderson’s return is about restoring a tradition that has significantly faded over the years.”

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seems magical for the moment. As a longtime Missouri basketball fan, it’s been difficult to watch the program falter in recent years. It’s been disappointing to see the large number of empty seats in Mizzou Arena during conference games, and the virtual ghost town it becomes during nonconference matchups. At some point in the last couple of years, Missouri fans lost interest in this once-great program and they made their dissatisfaction known by leaving their seats empty. I believe Kim Anderson is going to change all that and I have no doubt that Mizzou Arena will be near capacity, more often than not, during the coming season. Missouri Athletics Director Mike Alden deserves high praise for bringing Anderson back into the fold. He may have had reservations but he also knew that Missouri fans had had their fill of the recent coaching mismatches. Because of his initial popularity and appeal with Mizzou Nation, Anderson will likely have a longer honeymoon than fans typically afford most coaches. There will still be an expectation that Anderson return Missouri to national prominence at some point in the next few years, in spite of what he’s inherited. Remember, Missouri fans are fickle. History has shown that they will sing a coach’s praises one day only to call for his job a few weeks later. Now that we have the right coach in place, we must support Kim Anderson and our Missouri Tigers. The first way is to simply show up to every game this season. Gone are the days of playing Marathon Oil and Austin Peay in the early season. Mizzou has some daunting opponents on its fall schedule and we need to fill every seat in that arena. If you can’t make it to a game, give your tickets to someone who would love to attend. We also can show our affinity for the program by helping support the Tiger Scholarship Fund. This amazing fund helps student athletes with tuition assistance and academic support. It’s one small way to show our appreciation for the sacrifices made by so many student athletes. Balancing the demands of coursework while trying to achieve world-class status as an athlete is no simple task. Kim Anderson and his wife, Melissa, say they’ve been blown away by the warm welcome they’ve received on their return to Columbia. Let’s kick off a new era of Missouri basketball by showing up and letting the Southeastern Conference know that Missouri basketball is back … and it’s here to stay!

Fred Parry, Publisher

Inside Columbia Magazine November Issue  
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