Quite the weekend of writing for me, and I am guessing this entry will be no different. School is not quite back in session, but the winter season most certainly is. Lots of things to get to...so let's get to it. If I can keep this under 2,000 words, I will have done something.
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"I wish I knew how to quit you."
This is kind of how I feel with writing about football at this point, since we are well into January and it is still making some headlines. Just a short piece, which has already been reported here by The Boy in his links yesterday, but DT Charles Gaines will not be given the chance to return to Mizzou next season. I agree very much with The Boy in that I felt he would be able to given his playing history, but I guess it was not to be. Maybe someone has it out for us in the NCAA office that deals with these, since we never seem to catch a break on them (See: John Dausman)
At any rate, this is certainly a little setback for the defense next year. When most magazines report on the all important "returning starters" next year, Gaines would not have been counted, so that number is not going to change. However, Gaines had some great experience over the past season and certainly would have made the loss of Lo Williams a bit more seemless. As it stands, Jaron Baston will likely step into that position, and he has two years of playing off of the bench, so we do bring some experience into that spot. What this does also, perhaps on a more positive note, is that it will be demand we build more depth to that position for the all-important 2009 campaign, in which we will have just graduated no less than 56 seniors.
Andy Maples will be a name a lot of educated Mizzou fans will hope/expect to see, and he should have two years to play. Another name, and honestly the name I am hoping for is going to be Dominique Hamilton, a true frosh from this past season, who at 6'6, 280 (per Powermizzou), has the best looking body to be able to step in and fill the gap....so to speak.
Well, not much else to be said about the week Mizzou had. I dont know what you want to call it...bipolar, inconsistent, whatever. What you can call it is 2-0 for the week, and that is never a bad thing. Mizzou took out UMKC earlier in the week in their final "tune-up" before the conference season would kick off. To say the effort was less than 100 percent would be an understatement, as Mizzou, at least by my count, really only played about 10-15 good minutes in the game. But, a win was a win, needless to say it did not fill me (or most) with confidence about the UT game Saturday.
I shared some of my thoughts with The Boy (as I often do) and he shared some of them with you yesterday (as he often does) so for risk of repeating myself, I liked the effort yesterday a good deal. If Keon Lawrence has in fact broken out of his shooting slump, that becomes the biggest positive to come out of the season. At this point, I see Keon as the only person on the team who can create his own shot the majortity of the time. Keon being able to hit both 3's and step inside the arc and hit jumpers, it frees up so many other things. I know the The Boy is big on what Horton can bring as a potential shooter just some of the time, and while I agree, I have seen him have good games too many times to follow them with stinkers to hope that this will be permanent. I will just choose to be surprised if it is.
Coming up this week is a big road game at Iowa State. One perk of the Mizzou OOC schedule, even though they lost the games, were that Mizzou went on the road to Cal, Arkansas and Miss St. While none of those places compare to Hilton (though Arkansas is close), it should prepare this team to go in there and beat a team they very likely SHOULD beat. Start the season 2-0 in conference and you are on your way to improving your standing. Then...the kansas game...not much else to say. Will be nice at least to have back to back crowds at the Arena. :-)
Mizzou started the conference season with two home games, and came away from the set 1-1, which was a bit of a surprise, especially given who they beat. Earlier in the week, the team fell to Colorado 70-59. The main stat you need to know from that game is that Mizzou was 7-34 from the field in the first half....just over 20 percent. Not going to win many games doing that...just ask the SLU men's team.
The good shooting must have been a Mizzou Arena thing on Saturday, as the women came out Saturday night, and if front of a nice crowd of over 2,000 people, shot 60 percent from beyond the arc and outscored TTech 28-10 coming down the stretch to pull out a nice win, 69-58. Alyssa Hollings, as she typically does, led the team in scoring with 25 points, but on a much more efficient 9-14 shooting. Unfortunately, Mizzou's front line did aboslultely nothing, as the triumverate of Jessra Johnson, Shakara Jones and Nicole Wilson (yes, volleyball's Nicole Wilson) combined to shoot 3-16 (Wilson did not take a shot in 19 minutes, not too sure what she was doing in there) and only combined for 14 points and 11 boards in a total of 70 minutes, not very effective.
Mizzou has a very strange schedule coming up, with 4 of their next 5 on the road, including two this week, at Okie State on Wednesday night and then at kansas on Saturday. Then they will play 5 of 7 at home, before finishing with 2 straight on the road...not very balanced if you ask me. But back to Okie State...they are sitting at 2-0 in conference and 14-1...a stuff test to be sure. kansas has lost their first two games in conference, and is 11-4 overall. Hope the ladies can keep up the effort and get some more wins.
Obviosuly, I am not going to write a whole bunch about this as I pretty much covered all I needed/wanted to say on Saturday. Mizzou is going to need to shake off the effort from this past weekend pretty quickly, as Okie State comes calling to the Hearnes this coming weekend. These matches are important because they will work towards seeding of the wrestlers in the Big XII Tournament later in March. The better the seed (especially since there are 5 teams), the better chance you will make the NCAA's, plain and simple. A top 3 seed is MUCH prefered come that tournament because it puts you right into the semis. You need only win one match (either your first or second) to get you to STL this coming spring.
Both the men and the women competed in the 22nd Annual Missouri Invitational on Friday in the Hearnes Field House, and by all accounts, came away with a pretty sucessful evening. Two records fell in the first meet of the year, something that does not normally happen. The first school record to fall was the men's pole vault record, where sophomore Brian Hancock broke the 16-year old record of just over 17 feet. Hancock was All-Big XII in his freshman season, and appears to be well on his way to matching and improving upon that, as he has already achieved NCAA provisional status with the jump.
The second record to fall was by sophomore decathlete Nick Adcock, who ran the 60m hurdles in 8.17 seconds, which powered him to a 2nd place finish in the decathlon. The record was set last year at the NCAA indoor championships by now graduated Hans Uldal.
The strength of the indoor program, the throwers were certainly on display as senior Elisha Hunt won the Invitational's weight throw event for the 4th time...can't do much better than that. Shermelle Nichols won the shot put, and along with Krishna Lee achieved NCAA provisional status. For the men, junior Chris Rohr won the weight throw competition over two other Mizzou throwers, with all three obtaining NCAA status.
Up next for the team will be the kansas Invitational this coming weekend.
What a great start to the season for the ladies. The win over Bowling Green was to be expected, but the score they put up and the efforts they received were really impressive. The score of 194.100 was the 2nd highest in Mizzou history for a first meet, and 2nd highest in the Big XII for the weekend. Typically, you will want scores at the end of the year at 196 and above, so 194 is really close already, meaning most of your performers are hitting their routines.
Perhaps even more impressive than the team start was the performance of sophomore transfer Sarah Shire, who won the all-around with a 39.150. All-around means the competitor participated in all four events (uneven bars, floor exercise, balance beam and vault) Shire not only won the all around, but also won 3 of the 4 events. Shire transfered home to Mizzou from big-time program Utah and I believe could be the gymnast who will take our program to another level, especially as she has 3 years remaining of eligibility.
Other top performaers for the Tigers were senior Ashley Khederian, who came in 2nd in the all around. Junior All-Big XII Alicia Hatcher took the unveven bars. Junior Adrienne Perry also put together 3 good routines for the Tigers on the evening. Next up for the Tigers will be a home meet against Iowa State in the annual "Pink Out", where a one dollar donation will be made to Ellis Fischel for each person in attendance next Friday night.
The men and women returned to the pool after their break and winter conditioning trip as the men took on SMS and the women took on SMS and Arkansas. The men defeated the Bears, as did the women. However, the #18 ranked women fell in a VERY tight battle to the Ladybacks 151-149. Not entirely sure how the scoring goes, but my guess is the difference there is a probably a 2nd place vs. 3rd place.
I dont have much details on this as MUTigers.com did not update over the weekend (a lot going on I would guess). Tough outcome for the women against the Hogs, but the story on the Arkasas site has their coach talking about their swimming the meet of their life.
Up next for the squads will be the men travelling to swim against Pitt and Maryland. The women will travel up to Ames to take on the Cyclones in a dual which will go a little ways towards sorting out the Big XII teams on the women's side.
* Nebraska took out Penn State and Minnesota this weekend at the National Duals, on their way to the finals where they lost 24-9 to Iowa. Impressive showing by their program, and likely makes MU 4th in the league right now behind them, Okie State and Iowa State, who finished a somewhat disappointing 7th up in Iowa.
* Damn were people killing one another in the San Diego/Indy game yesterday. And the stars too...Tomlinson, Addai, Sanders, Rivers (though I guess he killed himself a bit somehow on that screen), Wayne at the end...oy. I am pulling for Green Bay, as I entered my office pool and thought the only way to potentially win it was to pick them...but egad the Pats look scary.
* More on that San Diego/Indy game...just some amazing 3rd down conversions by Philip Rivers, especially that one late in the 3rd quarter with the crowd going bonkers. Kept the drive alive before the INSANELY fast Darren Sproles to a 2nd and 10 screen for a TD. What an effort by San Diego, but I cannot figure they will have anything left for New England.
* What you need to know right now about the New Jersey Devils: They are 19-5-1 in their last 25 games.
* The other strange thing about New Jersey is that they started the year with a 9 game roadtrip because their new arena was not going to be done in time. However, since then, they have only made up ONE of those home games. That is interesting as they are now past the halfway point in the season, so needless to say, New Jersey has a favorable schedule coming down the stretch. And I just found that stretch...they play 8 of their next 9 at home...that will even things up I would say.
* I never really noticed it, but there are just no holidays from work from New Years to Memorial Day many times. I do not get MLK Day or Good Friday off or anything...so I go 5 months without a free day off...ouch.
* I LOVED seeing THIS Chicago has not much going on, but this is a great move, and not just because I think Noah is just such an odd duck. Good for those players.
* I still maintain the trade the St. Louis Cardinals did NOT make with Scott Rolen was better. Getting a pitcher (who at least pitched last year, unlike Matt Clement), a prospect and most of the salary taken would have been far better than seemingly trading for Mitchell Report's Troy Glaus. Of course, pending the passing of a physical, something I am not entirely sure EITHER player could pass at this point.
* Well...just under 2,300 words...oh well.