Haith vows to fix Mizzou's latest mess

2014-04-04T01:30:00Z 2014-04-08T12:46:10Z Haith vows to fix Mizzou's latest messBy Dave Matter dmatter@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8508 stltoday.com

COLUMBIA, Mo. • When his fourth season at Missouri begins later this year, basketball coach Frank Haith will likely have to replace players that accounted for 75 percent of this season’s scoring. But he’ll resist calling 2014-15 a rebuilding year — even though the bulk of his roster will be a collection of sophomores, freshmen and transfers.

“We’ve got to have a crash course, so to speak, with some of these young guys,” Haith said Thursday. “But I do believe we’re going to have the right kind of talent, based on how we finish recruiting … that will allow us to put a product out there that Mizzou Nation will be proud of.”

With his two best players leaving school early for the NBA draft, Haith has more than a roster to rebuild. Mizzou’s image has taken its share of self-inflicted hits in recent weeks as the Tigers missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008.

Early Thursday morning, Zach Price, one of eight Division I transfers to join the program since Haith arrived three years ago, became the third MU player in three weeks to get arrested — and the first to get arrested twice in one day.

Price, a 6-foot-10 transfer from Louisville, intentionally rammed his vehicle into the vehicle of two unnamed victims Wednesday afternoon, according to Columbia Police. The two victims, a 23-year-old male and 23-year-old female, filed a report with Columbia Police Wednesday.

Early Thursday morning officers were dispatched to the area of Heather Lane and Ash Street for a disturbance call, where Price was involved in a fight with the same male and female. Price and the male victim, his roommate, had been in an ongoing dispute.

Price, 20, followed the male and female in his vehicle to Stadium Boulevard where he blocked the male’s vehicle with his own to prevent him from leaving the area. Price exited his vehicle and punched the male in the face. The female tried to intervene and Price pushed her to the ground. Both alleged victims received minor injuries. Price was arrested on suspicion of third-degree assault and third-degree domestic assault with bonds set at $1,000 and $500 and was released after posting bail.

Haith later announced that he suspended Price from the team.

“Very disappointed in his actions,” Haith said. “We’re still gathering information. Been up all night and we’re still working toward finding out what all went wrong. I can tell you that we’re not really happy. We’ll discipline accordingly.”

“It’s not the Mizzou way,” Haith continued. “It’s not how Frank Haith from a leadership standpoint wants our program to be portrayed. As the leader of this program, I take full responsibility. We’ve got to fix it.”

Later on Thursday, the investigating officer in the first incident was unable to follow up on the case, so another officer was assigned to the case and arrested Price at his apartment on suspicion of second-degree assault and second-degree domestic assault stemming from the first incident.

A spokesman from the Boone County Jail said Price was brought in just after 3 p.m. on the second round of assault allegations. Bond was set at $4,500 for each count. He was released at 7:30.

Third-degree assault is considered a Class A or C misdemeanor, while second-degree assault is a Class C felony.

Price transferred to Mizzou from Louisville last summer and was expected to be part of the rotation in the frontcourt in 2014-15 after sitting out last season per NCAA transfer rules. The Cleveland native started seven games during Louisville’s 2012-13 national championship season and averaged 1.0 point and 1.3 rebounds for the year.

Price is the third Missouri player arrested in three weeks. Freshman guards Wes Clark and Shane Rector were arrested in Columbia on March 15 for marijuana possession. Both were suspended for MU’s first game in the National Invitation Tournament, though Rector was reinstated for the second-round game.

Late in the season, Haith kicked senior forward Tony Criswell off the team shortly after the Boone County Court Associate Circuit Division ruled he owed more than $2,700 in unpaid rent.

Both Clark and Rector are back with the team, said Haith, who talked at length Thursday about Mizzou’s future. He mentioned Clark as one of five players he considers “the foundation of the program,” along with guard Cam Biedscheid, a transfer from Notre Dame, and forwards Johnathan Williams III, Torren Jones and Ryan Rosburg.

That core definitely won’t include guard Jordan Clarkson, a second-team All-SEC player this past season who’s signing with an agent and entering the NBA draft, and mostly likely won’t include Jabari Brown, a first-team All-SEC pick and the league’s top scorer. Brown has also made himself eligible for the June 26 draft, though he hasn’t ruled out returning to Mizzou pending feedback from the NBA over the next few weeks. Haith talked Thursday as if Brown’s days at MU are done.

Brown and Clarkson, plus Criswell and departing senior Earnest Ross accounted for 74.8 percent of MU’s points this past season.

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