Missouri Basketball: Senior Forward Laurence Bowers Tears ACL

Chris ConnContributor IIIOctober 4, 2011

LAWRENCE, KS - FEBRUARY 07:  Laurence Bowers #21 of the Missouri Tigers reacts after a foul during the game against the Kansas Jayhawks on February 7, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Missouri Tigers basketball team suffered a big loss Tuesday, as it was reported that senior forward Laurence Bowers tore his ACL and will miss the entire 2011-2012 season.

As a junior last year, Bowers played in 34 games, leading the Tigers in rebounds and blocks, and scoring a second best 11.6 point per contest. 

The loss of Bowers comes as a big blow to a Missouri team that returns nearly everyone from last year's 23-11 squad that made the NCAA tournament. Fellow senior Kim English even tweeted, "Worst day of my college career!!!"

The Tigers will likely struggle to replace the Bowers up front. A Big-12 Honorable Mention last season, the 6'8" forward was one of the Big 12's top returning big men.

Each year in Columbia, Bowers' numbers improved, and there's no reason to believe that he wouldn't have had a monster senior season.

Bowers' injury will force the already guard-oriented Tigers to rely even more on their backcourt this season.

Five of Mizzou's top six returning scorers (excluding Bowers) are 6'6" or smaller, so don't be surprised to see new head coach Frank Haith with his hands full trying to compete with teams like Baylor and Kansas.

While a devastating injury to their star forward will keep Missouri out of the national title talk, don't expect the Tigers to completely flop. As long as Big 12 Player of the Year candidate Marcus Denmon is on the court, Mizzou will be a competitive team.

They still have the talent to make it back to the NCAA tournament and if Ricardo Ratliffe is able to embrace his role as the team's go-to big man, the Tigers could be a dangerous team come March.