Mizzou salvages a win but leaves Maui with some real concerns

Montaque Gill-Caesar (left) has shown he can put the ball in the basket.

Eugene Tanner/AP

The Missouri Tigers will not return from Maui without a victory, to which coach Kim Anderson had to say, "Whew."

A loss to Division II Chaminade after a dismal effort against Purdue would have made the long trip home even longer. But the Tigers controlled the Silverswords from start to finish in a 74-60 victory Wednesday that evened Mizzou’s record at 3-3. The Tigers are off until Tuesday, when host Southeast Missouri State.

Five takeaways from the Tigers’ showing in the islands:

Johnathan Williams III’s right knee remains a concern. Williams did not play in the second half against Chaminade and sat out most of the first half, too, because of what Anderson called soreness in the sophomore forward’s right knee. Anderson told the Columbia Daily Tribune that he didn’t believe the issue was serious, and that Williams woke up with the knee feeling sore. But if soreness already is limiting him after six games, he is facing a long season of playing at less than 100 percent.

Williams opted against surgery to repair the meniscus he tore in a preseason workout, choosing instead to rest and rehab. If soreness persists, he might have to rethink that decision.

Urgency is needed at all times. After hanging with No. 3 Arizona in a 19-point loss Monday, the Tigers were embarrassed by Purdue on Tuesday. The Boilermakers led by as many as 34 points on the way to an 82-61 victory in what was the most telling game of the tournament for the Tigers. Afterward, sophomore guard Wes Clark did nothing to help Mizzou’s cause when he told reporters that the Tigers "weren’t all the way prepared."

"We thought that since (Purdue) lost yesterday, I guess, we weren’t going to have to bring as much effort as we should have. We underestimated them," Clark said.

Seriously? Missouri, the team that lost to Missouri-Kansas City, should not be underestimating any team.

I wasn’t in Hawaii (sigh), so I don’t know the context of Clark’s comments. But given the content, does context even matter? That one of his players not only would overlook a team, but then admit it could not have pleased Anderson.

Clark is in a scoring slump. After reaching double figures in each of the first three games, Clark totaled 12 points in the three games in Hawaii. He missed all seven shots against Chaminade and finished the tournament 4 of 24 from the field. Clark still found a way to contribute by pulling down nine rebounds and being credited with four assists and three steals.

There’s more firepower in the backcourt. One freshman guard, Montaque Gill-Caesar, already has shown that he can put the ball in the basket. Against Chaminade, freshman Namon Wright proved he’s capable of some big scoring outputs, too. Wright made all seven of his field-goal attempts, including four 3-pointers, and finished with 21 points to lead Missouri in scoring for the first time.

For Ryan Rosburg, they’ve been foul shots, not free throws. The junior forward was hoping to improve on last year’s 56.9 percent shooting from the free-throw line. So far, it hasn’t happened. Rosburg missed six of seven attempts against Chaminade, his only attempts in Hawaii. Combined with a 3-for-12 showing in the Tigers’ first three games, Rosburg is 4 for 19 for the season, just 21.1 percent. His last attempt Wednesday was an air ball.

You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @StanMcNeal or email him at stanmcneal@gmail.com.