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Missouri basketball players again excited to play for fans

The Tigers tipped off their 2012-13 college basketball season on Friday evening with Mizzou Madness.

Jamie Squire - Getty Images

Eager to erase memories of their jaw-dropping defeat in last year's NCAA tournament, Frank Haith's Missouri Tigers opened up their 2012-13 college basketball season on Friday with the team's annual Mizzou Madness event.

The festivities included both men's and women's team scrimmages, along with an exciting dunk contest that was eventually championed by 6'4 senior guard Keion Bell. For Haith and his players, though, simply getting back on the floor to give fans something to cheer about was the single greatest success of the evening.

"I think that’s what this night is for, to get those guys to see the energy and the emotion and passion from one another," Haith said through the team's official site.

And after missing all of last season with a disheartening ACL injury right before the year began, fifth-year senior forward Laurence Bowers echoed Haith's sentiments about playing before such a supportive crowd once again.

"It was a great experience," Bowers said. "I put my heart and soul into this school, and to get back out there and perform in front of the fans, it was breathtaking. I thought this event was great, and I’m looking forward to coming back out here on Oct. 29."

With Bowers, Michael Dixon and Connecticut transfer Alex Oriakhi each entering their final years of eligibility, Haith will once again feature an upperclassmen-laden squad that should rank among America's best. Considering how junior Phil Pressey is also on the verge of becoming an elite collegiate point guard in an offense tailor-made for his strengths, it looks like Missouri fans have every reason to be excited for this upcoming season.