Missouri v Colorado State

Boot camp serves as valuable leadership experience for Missouri

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Whether it’s for the physical conditioning or the teamwork exercises, more college basketball teams have made use of boot camps in recent years. The latest program to jump on board is Missouri, which trained with the Missouri National Guard with an eye towards establishing team leaders after their starting point guard (Phil Pressey) left school for the NBA.

Head coach Frank Haith had a couple players in mind when thinking about possible team leaders, as noted in a story written by Dana O’Neil of ESPN.com. But there was an issue: the three players (Jabari Brown, Jordan Clarkson and Earnest Ross) all began their collegiate careers at different schools, with Clarkson sitting out the entire 2012-13 campaign after transferring in from Tulsa.

Ross and Brown played for the Tigers for the first time last season, after transferring from Auburn and Oregon, respectively. Clarkson, meantime, sat out a year ago after leaving Tulsa.

So Haith asked [Missouri National Guard Capt. Brian] Hatcher, who had done a similar program with the football team, to devise an overnight schedule that would be fun for the players but would also challenge those three to take over.

Capt. Hatcher made those three players group leaders, with each of the three groups being required to complete assigned tasks like hauling packs that weighed in excess of 50 pounds and carrying 20-pound poles before spending some time at the firing range. After a good night’s sleep the Tigers were on their way back to Columbia.

Such exercises are good because they essentially require leaders to emerge while also forcing the entire group to work together towards a common goal. With the three possible options for Missouri at the point guard position (Clarkson and freshmen Wes Clark and Shane Rector) having yet to play a game in a Missouri uniform, the Tigers may need to find some unconventional solutions during the regular season.

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.