MU basketball coach Frank Haith attributes the Tigers’ 9-0 start to the season to the trust he has built with his players. The Missourian‘s Laura Oberle profiled the relationship between Haith and senior guard Kim English in particular:
“I really believe in order to get to your players, you can’t only communicate with them within that 94 feet,” Haith said in Monday’s Big 12 teleconference. “You’ve got to have time with them off the court where they get to know you so that trust is built up.”
“Spending a lot of time with (Kim) has helped,” Haith said. “Guys have to know you believe in them. Trust is such an important word in building your basketball team.”
It’s the little things, like sitting with the players when the team flies to away games. On Dec. 4, when flying to New York for the Jimmy V Classic, English tweeted, “You can tell a lot about a Head Coach that doesn’t sit in first class and sits in Coach w/ his troops. #Humble #FrankHaith.”
The Columbia Daily Tribune‘s Steve Walentik had more on English from Haith:
“I think the one thing with Kimmie, I think he was pressing a lot last year and he wanted to do so well,” he said. “But we tried to get Kimmie this year to just focus on things that he can control every single game, and that is being solid defensively, being a leader as opposed to worrying about his scoring. And I think he’s really focused on that. Now obviously, he’s worked hard on his game. He’s one of the hardest workers on our team. He’s put in a lot of effort and time in the gym.”
English’s revival has been absolutely tantamount to the Tigers’ resilience in the face of forward Laurence Bowers’ season-ending ACL injury. Time will tell if Haith’s scheme of speed and execution can continue to compensate for the Tigers’ lack of size when conference play rolls around. Haith, 43-69 in conference play at Miami, came to MU facing heavy doubt from Tigers fans, but his work with English is more than enough to cause fans and critics to put aside their doubts.