Missouri looks like it’s closer to getting one of their key backcourt players back in the lineup.
CBSSports.com’s Jeff Goodman tweeted out that Michael Dixon, Jr. will be making the trip to the Bahamas for the Battle for Atlantis this week, but his status for the Stanford game on Thursday is up in the air.
Dixon has yet to play in a regular season game this year due to an indefinite suspension for him and freshman Dominique Bull for a violation of team rules by coach Frank Haith on Oct. 26.
The Tigers haven’t needed Dixon yet, with convincing victories over SIU-Edwardsville (83-69), Alcorn State (91-54) and Nicholls State (74-54) to start the season.
But it’s now time that not having Dixon will start to affect this team. Dixon is the other half of the only players to come back of last season’s active roster — Phil Pressey being the other half — and the Tigers are heading into the most talent-loaded tournament this season and probably the toughest early-season tournament since the early 2000s Maui Invitationals. They’ll need Dixon’s leadership and senior experience against a Johnny Dawkins-coached team that’s led by Chasson Randle, a vastly underrated sophomore for the Cardinal.
I was curious to see whether this suspension was a serious one, or one of those where the player sits out games they aren’t necessarily needed in as “punishment”, then magically get into the coaches’ good graces before the first important game. This is the time where we find that out. Dixon has already sat three games, so to call it either way is totally subjective. Though the only reason I could see Dixon being brought to the Bahamas and not playing is if he’s there to suffer, being ordered to stay in his hotel room while the rest of the team spends their down-time at the beach.
The early games have proven that despite the influx of newcomers — both freshman and transfers — Missouri has seemingly passed the “chemistry” test and all players are cohesive within the system. But that’s easy to do when you’re playing teams you should beat, handily.
Now is the time when, should Dixon remain suspended, we will see how much he really means to that team. Should he come back, then it’s a moot point. But there’s no doubt Dixon’s return would help an already-talented backcourt.
David Harten is the editor of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.