The Southeastern Conference basketball coaches joined together on a media teleconference with much of the talk focused on Missouri and Texas A & M joining the league. The general consensus among the coaches is that the SEC just became a much more competitive basketball conference. Kentucky head coach John Calipari thinks as many as seven SEC teams will make the NCAA tournament. Last season, there were only four. Hear what other SEC coaches are saying about Mizzou.
While this is a new conference for the Tigers, there is also some familiarity within the SEC, starting just south of the state in Arkansas, where former coach Mike Anderson heads up the Razorbacks. Anderson said Mizzou-Arkansas games have always been well hyped, but obviously the first few meetings will have a little extra meaning. He was nothing but generous when it came to his comments not only about the basketball program, but the entire Mizzou athletic department.
AUDIO Mike Anderson on Mizzou basketball (1:20)
Calipari is excited about Missouri joining, because he believes the Tigers and Aggies add even more competition to the league and it will help prepare his team for the tournament. Calipari also sees the benefits of recruiting. While he’s always gone down to Texas, he knows the lure of playing every so often at A & M can help his sales pitch, plus the addition of Mizzou opens up a new market for him in St. Louis.
AUDIO Coach Cal excited about the future of SEC hoops (1:40)
Obviously the move to the SEC can only help Missouri with their recruiting efforts. Head coach Frank Haith talked about Mizzou already being a national brand, but there is no doubt with the move to the SEC, it has raised the awareness of Tiger basketball in the south east. Only Michael Dixon and Phil Pressey return from last year’s 30-win season, but Haith likes what he has coming in. They have “good parts” coming back in terms of guys who sat out, like forward Laurence Bowers and Haith is happy with the recruiting efforts. Last year’s squad didn’t have the versatility to go big, but Haith likes the flexibility he has this season with being able to go with a bigger lineup, or go small if the situation calls for it.
AUDIO Frank Haith’s full press conference (8:00)
One SEC rival who is familiar with Missouri, is Florida, coached by Billy Donovan. The Gators had to prepare for a possible showdown with the Tigers in the NCAA tournament and Donovan recruited Phil Pressey for a short time in high school. Donovan has no doubt, the Tigers bring value to the SEC.
AUDIO Billy Donovan praises Mizzou (:50)
As new South Carolina coach Frank Martin adjusts to learning a new conference after coming over from Kansas State, Martin certainly knows a thing or two about Missouri and A & M. He expects the Aggies to be back in the hunt for a tourney bid and said Mizzou Arena is always a tough place to play.
AUDIO Frank Martin learning his way around the SEC (1:12)