The Missouri Tigers lost a majority of their team from last season with Phil Pressey leaving early to the 2013 NBA Draft and Alex Oriakhi, Keion Bell and Laurence Bowers being seniors. However, the Tigers’ 2013-14 basketball season is not lost because of an influx of young talent and a couple of returning players. One of these veteran players is senior forward Tony Criswell.
Last season, he averaged only five points and five rebounds per game. Those stats were disappointing but acceptable last season because he only averaged around 20 minutes per game, and six players on the team averaged at least 10 points a game. However, with only two of those six returning, Criswell’s low stats will not get the Tigers into the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
Criswell should be given a more advanced role with Missouri this season. With extremely talented freshman Johnathan Williams III expected to play a lot in his first year in the SEC, Criswell will be expected to relieve Williams at times. SEC play is extremely competitive. and it’s difficult for freshmen to immediately have success in the conference – just ask last year’s Kentucky Wildcats. Frank Haith needs a solid replacement to throw into the game for long stretches at a time when Williams gets frustrated against the talented SEC defenses, and Criswell must produce when called upon.
Although the success or failure of Missouri’s season will hinge on players like Jabari Brown and Earnest Ross, the real determinant of the Tigers’ 2014 NCAA Tournament chances will be based on the play of lesser known players like Criswell. Criswell has to step up and have the best season of his entire career in the 2013-14 season or the Tigers’ season could end in disappointment.