Laurence Bowers’ ACL Injury: Missouri Speedbump or Roadblock?Posted by cwilliams on October 11th, 2011
Missouri fans have had an interesting past week. Whether they are fans of the idea of jumping to the SEC or continuing their loyalty to the Big 12, the fans are anxious to see what their athletic department’s next move is. So, when they heard about forward Laurence Bowers‘ recent ACL injury, one that will sideline him for the entire 2011-12 season, their heightened level of anxiety only rose. Bowers, a dynamic frontcourt player who brought athleticism and leadership to the Tiger basketball team, will certainly be missed this season.
Many pundits have picked the Tigers as strong contenders for this year’s Big 12 championship. Led by a senior class with three years of postseason experience, Missouri has been deemed a promising NCAA Tournament contender. Athlon’s College Basketball Preview ranked them #24 in their preseason projections; Lindy’s College Basketball Preview ranked the Tigers #21; Andy Katz ranked them #22 in his pre-season Top 25. With this injury to Bowers, however, those pundits are likely re-thinking those projections. Senior Steve Moore is expected to take Bowers’ spot in the starting lineup. He has developed into a solid role player, but lacks the athleticism and basketball IQ that Bowers possesses. With conference realignment rumors swirling and Frank Haith’s issue of possible infractions at Miami (FL), this season will be interesting enough for the Tigers. With Bowers’ injury, it seems the hits just keep coming.
Injuries are never a good thing for your team (unless you’re the 2001 New England Patriots). While Bowers is not the best player on the team — this title is reserved for Marcus Denmon — he is the most difficult to replace. His 6’8″ frame will be missed by a Tiger squad that is already undersized. That being said, injuries always open the door for replacement players to excel. Kadeem Green is my candidate for this role, the player that can make up what was lost with Bowers’ injury. Green is athletic and dynamic like Bowers, but lacks a certain polish. If Green’s only true issue is a lack of experience, getting thrust into a lineup that lacks big men may cure this issue. Also, this is a close-knit, veteran-led team. Senior leaders Kim English and Marcus Denmon will keep this team’s chin up, and Bowers will remain a vocal leader. So, while Bowers’ injury undoubtedly makes the Mizzou Tigers less of a threat for their Big 12 foes, don’t count them out quite yet. When one door closes, another one opens.