Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mu Finds Winning Tune vs. Liberty

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mu Finds Winning Tune vs. Liberty

Article excerpt

Seven games into the season, Norm Stewart is beginning to understand how to orchestrate his Missouri Tigers.

"It's not last year's ballclub," Stewart said after MU's 87-76 victory over Liberty on Monday night at Hearnes Center. "Last year's ballclub, I likened it to the instruments:

"Guys carried the bass drum, played the tuba and blew the big horn. This ballclub right now, they're playing the clarinet, the oboe and looking for the triangle . . . But you know something, if that's the instrument you've got, that's the one you play. And we've got to learn to play it."

That is to say - we think - that Stewart will search nightly for the right rhythm. That is how freshman 7-footer Monte Hardge came to be the feature soloist against the Eagles.

Sure, Paul O'Liney and Derek Grimm scored 20 each to lead MU. And sophomore Jason Sutherland had a career-high 15 points. But it was the enthusiastic, if awkward, Hardge, with modest totals of five points and four rebounds, who rallied an otherwise humdrum paid crowd of 13,300.

"He misses a free throws, and he doesn't get discouraged - goes right back in there and plays," said Stewart, who pumped his fists vigorously as Hardge made each of his first two collegiate baskets. "Crowd's behind him. People respond to that. That's just human nature."

Liberty coach Jeff Meyer also paid tribute to Hardge - in his own way.

"I felt like we were more a part of a sideshow instead of a basketball game," Meyer said. "I felt like we were in a professional wrestling deal where the fans come and root for Hulk Hogan. He does well, the Tigers win, the fans go home happy - talking about how well Hulk Hogan did."

Heretofore, Mizzou's Hulkster had been known more for the Phantom of the Opera look he had with the hard plastic mask he was wearing because of a fracture bone above his left eye. But doctors examined him Saturday and determined that Hardge could take off the mask. It wasn't a day too soon for Hardge, who apparently has dropped below 300 pounds but "isn't wasting away," according to Stewart. …

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