Mizzou hires former UAB coach Anderson

Updated: March 28, 2006, 9:14 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Mike Anderson is bringing his swarming style of defense and fast-paced play to the University of Missouri.

Anderson was hired as Missouri's basketball coach Sunday, taking over following Quin Snyder's resignation last month.

Anderson will make a guaranteed $850,000 per year over the duration of his five-year contract, the Kansas City Star reported Tuesday. The value of the contract increases if the team meets certain academic and social conducts goals. Anderson would also receive bonuses based on home attendence figures, according to the newspaper.

Anderson, who led Alabama-Birmingham to a 24-7 record and an NCAA Tournament appearance this season, is the first permanent black head coach at Missouri, though Melvin Watkins, a Snyder assistant, served as interim coach after Snyder's resignation.

Anderson was also a former assistant to Nolan Richardson at Arkansas and played for Richardson at Tulsa.

As head coach at UAB for four years, Anderson had an 89-41 record with three NCAA Tournament appearances. UAB lost to Kentucky in the first round this season.

In his introductory news conference, Anderson said he has already spoken with eight Missouri players. He said they are eager to experience his up-tempo, scrappy style.

"If you ever see me in a fight with a tiger or a bear, you better help that tiger or that bear out," Anderson said. "If you watch my basketball team, that's the same mind-set. What we do is predicated on defense -- it starts, and it ends, on defense."

The hiring came on the same day curators discussed but never voted on whether to fire the man who hired Anderson, athletic director Mike Alden. Alden had been under fire since Snyder resigned Feb. 10, saying he was told by an Alden associate his job could not be saved.

The action led to two separate investigations into how Snyder was let go and embarrassed the university.

Anderson sidestepped questions about the soap opera surrounding Snyder's departure but praised Alden as the man who "sold me on Missouri."

"In one sentence, I'm a Mike Alden guy," Anderson said.

Around Columbia, fans were excited about the hiring of Anderson.

"I think they made a good hire," said Fred Franken. "If you watched them on TV, his kids played hard, and I like his style."

Missouri, once one of the elite programs of the Big 12, struggled in recent years under Snyder, who was hired in 1999 to replace Norm Stewart. The Tigers (12-16, 5-12 Big 12 in 2005-06) have not been to the NCAA Tournament since 2003 and this season finished next to last in the conference.

Anderson spent 13 years as an assistant to Richardson before going to UAB. He was known as a strong recruiter and was part of the staff when the Razorbacks won the national championship in 1994.

"In my estimation, he is truly one of the finest young basketball coaches around at this point in time," Richardson said.

At Missouri, Anderson will inherit a team with just one standout, Thomas Gardner, who led the Big 12 in scoring. And even that's not certain -- Gardner, a junior, is considering leaving school to make himself eligible for the NBA draft, though experts have said he would be a late second-round choice at best.

On the plus side, Anderson comes to a state with two metropolitan areas that provide significant talent. The Tigers play in the two-year-old Mizzou Arena, and practice and workout facilities have been significantly upgraded under Alden's watch.

Unfortunately, Missouri's mediocre play has led to poor attendance at the arena. Alden is optimistic Anderson's brand of play will change that.

"The excitement he will bring to Mizzou Arena will be shown at a very high level for many years," Alden said.

Anderson has turned around a struggling program before. Alabama-Birmingham was 13-17 the season before he arrived and 21-13 in his initial season, 2002-03.

"That particular city [Birmingham] is energized, it is on fire down there about the fastest 40 minutes in basketball," Anderson said. "I can honestly say we're going to bring the fastest 40 minutes of basketball to Mizzou."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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