Monday Musings - The Big XII North Champion Edition

Hmmm...I just do not see that getting old any time soon...Big XII North Champions.  Not saying it is my destination, but saying it is nice to see this team accomplish it in back to back seasons when other seasons have had the same expectation. 

At any rate, this was a REALLY busy weekend for Mizzou sports, as the winter sports are geared up and the fall sports are winding down.  Lots of stuff to cover and some random thoughts on football and NASCAR.

Football:

Thanks to DirecTV (all the more ironic since I work for a competitor),I was only able to see that last three quarters of action.  At any rate, I have not read or heard enough to know if the team knew the fate of the UT/kU game when they took the field.  In all honesty, I kind of hope they did know and were able to go out there and take care of business like they did.  Chase looked comfortable again, save for the two interceptions (one which did not count, and the one that did.  Speaking of the one that did not count, I think it is funny that a roughing the passer can negate an INT. To me, the ball is gone, it should be change of possession and 15 yards off...but that is just me).  What I hope happened this past week was that while we continued to pay lip service to the fact that Chase Coffman COULD play, we went ahead and game planned that he would not.  I am not entirely sure we did that for the kSU game, and I think it showed in the offense's efficiency.  This time around, Jones looked more than ready to step in and things clicked better.  As it pertains to Coffman, all the more reason he is the most important cog (except for Daniel) out there and why he needs to be 100 percent for the Championship game.  I will be honest, I think we can beat kU without him, but we do not likely stand a chance against any of the four from the south without him.

On defense...gosh..I wish we could just wrap up and tackle.  WAY too many shoulder tackles which do not work at this level. Saw one from Willy Mo, another from Lambert and others where I do not remember the people specifically.  Nice game by Chavis (even if the announcer could not say his name correctly) and nice to see Gettis further earn his rep as a lock-down corner with an interception.  And I am still looking for the superior effort on D. Wash's long TD run, but the more I see it, the more it just seems to be a product of the system and Washington's really wonderful vision.  He just glided around and took the correct angles which resulted in ISU guys getting naturally sealed off of him and went from there.

As for "hate" week and what-not, you will find I will probably not participate too much in it.  To me, these next two weeks are just a long two weeks without Mizzou playing, with a stop-over for the OU/TTech game next Saturday.  As for some perspective on the season and this accomplishment...maybe next week...we'll see.  I think I am of the opinion that if I do not talk about the closing of this season, it just wont end :-)

Soccer:

Not too much left to cover on this one, as it was pretty well hashed out on the pages of Rock M over this past weekend.  The ladies went right out and stomped on the throat of Evansville on a terrible Friday night with goals in the 3rd minute and the 33rd minute.  A win of 2-0, along with a 2OT thriller between Memphis and Illinois (which Illinois won) figured to have the Tigers in a good spot.  But, after a scoreless 1st half, Illinois got on the board early in the 2nd.  The Tigers fought back on a goal from freshman Mallory Stipetech and evened it at one.  They went all the way to penalty kicks (some would argue a terrible way to finish a game) and were even at 4 goals each on the 5th kick when back-up goalie and occasional field player Mallory Forst stepped up to take the kick.. She was unsuccessful, and the Tigers finished their season with another 2nd round of the NCAA tourney loss, again in 2OT (or more).

This is a disappointing finish for the Tigers, who just could not beat Illinois this season (also falling in the first game of the year).  The Tigers should have advanced to the Sweet 16, but it was not to be.  However, they are pretty likely to return next season, as they will return 43 of 50 goals and 32 of 40 assists, along with their fantastic keeper in junior Tasha Dittamore.  The biggest loss will be on defense, where Mizzou employs only three defenders, putting a special focus on experience and ability.  Senior Kat Tarr led the team in minutes played with just over 2000, while senior midfielder Janelle Cordia was just behind her.  Ashley Hamblin came on the end of the year to become a nice scorer from the front and McCoy and Forst certainly contributed.  However, the freshman class of Stipetech/Blincow/Crabtree/Collins/Ruff and Gayer (who did not play) provided a nice 7 goals and 4 assists. Bonnick and Andrighetto, along with Michelle Collins will have one more season all together, returning their combined 25 goals (yes...half of the team's goals) and 16 assists.

Volleyball:

About as good of a week as could be hoped for the Tigers, as they fell to highly ranked Nebraska on the road, but went out on the road and took down Colorado to move to 7-9 in the Big XII and 13-11 overall.  Getting the program's 600th win, the Tigers won two close sets to start the match against CU before dropping the 3rd in similarly close fashion.  However, the team regrouped an defeated the Buffaloes, marking only their 2nd conference win of the season on the road.  Lei Wang continues to play better, finishing with 46 sets for the match along with 12 digs.  Caitlyn Vann once again lead the Tigers in the dig category with 21, and Julianna Klein put up a double-double with 13 kills and 15 digs.  Wendy Wang finished with 12 kills and Megan Wilson led the team with 15 on a solid .344 hitting.

So...what is left for the Tigers?  They have four matches remaining, three of them at home in Hearnes.  The schedule is not too easy though, with 12-5 (conf) k-State coming on Wednesday.  The team will hit the road for the last time this season with a match at fellow 7-9 Baylor before returning home for the finales against 14-2 UT and 7-9 aTm.  If the squad wins three of the last four, that would put them at 10-10 in conference and MAYBE give them an outside shot at an NCAA berth (and I only say that because 10-10 got them in last year).

Men's Basketball:

My thoughts on the actual game (was not worth rehashing the exhibition game) were mostly covered in the National Game thread from this past weekend.  Basically, I like what Denmon brings to the table, as I have yet to see him really have an off night, which means he may just be the scorer we could really use.  At the point, I like that Zaire Taylor is as long and tall as he is, and I am intrigued by Miguel Paul.  However, Matt Lawrence seems to be more and more of a liability to me, and I just do not trust "good" Leo Lyons to show up each and every night.  If he does, and if Carroll can stop reminding me of TJ Soyoye (meaning he is ridiculously athletic but not smooth at all), then I think Mizzou could be on to something.  But I just have to believe "bad" Leo is going to show himself at times this season and we will be stuck when he does.

This is going to be a long and tough week for the Tigers, as they will have four games...not very common at all.  They will start the week at home against UT-C in the 1st round of the Puerto Rican Tournament...that's right...the first round is at home, but it does not matter what the Tigers do, as they will take on Xavier on Thursday, followed by the winner/loser of Va Tech/STAGS OF FAIRFIELD on Friday, with a final game on Sunday.  Four games...and nothing less than 3-1 is going to be acceptable to me.

Women's Basketball:

yeah...they lost to South Dakota State...at home.  Not much else to say, other than SD St. only hit 4 FG's for the entire first half..and still won the game.  Mizzou did not shoot 48 percent from any area on the floor...including the free throw line.  They did not hit a three pointer.  Only Shakara Jones hit better than 50 percent of her shots, scoring 16 on 5-8 from the floor and 6-10 from the line. (the rest of the team went 4-11).  And they were outrebounded by the...well...WHO THE HELL KNOWS WHAT SOUTH DAKOTA STATE IS?!?!?!

Anyway...the ladies will be travelling east this week to take on the Illini.  The game is on the Big 10 Network on Wednesday in case you are interested.  The ladies will return home this coming weekend to take on Western Illinois.  Winning either of these games would be a step in the right direction.

Wrestling:

More to come tomorrow in the Wrestling Wrap-Ups for the duals against Lock Haven and Bucknell.  Needless to say...some very interesting results for the Tigers, who did win both.

Cross Country:

Looks like the season ended for both squads this past weekend at the NCAA Regional competition, which were run out in Stillwater.  For the men, the team finished a respectable 5th place, with senior Garrett Jeffries finishing17th, which does make him eligible to be placed in the NCAA Championships.  Sophomore transfer Michael Pandolpho ran a season-best and finished a solid 26th, while sophomore Phillip King finished next for the Tigers.  Sophomore Dan Quigley was next, with freshman Phil Bascio was 5th for the group.  That is a great future for the Tigers right there, and a solid season (likely) completed.

For the ladies, they finished 10th in the session, and their season is definitely completed.  Sophomore Kinsey Farren led the charge for the team, but finished 42nd overall.  Sophomore Layne Moore was next for the Tigers back in 57th with junior Emily Baker, sophomore Jessica Armstrong and freshman Laura Roxberg rounding out the scoring top 5 for the team.  That's right, no seniors in that group either. 

Swimming:

Mizzou travelled to Louisville this weekend where the both the men and the women participated in something of an extended meet, which took two days to complete.  For the #21 ranked men, they fell to the #18 ranked Cardinals, and fell pretty hard.  It was a pretty close meet after the 1st day, but L'ville poured it on in Day 2 and defeated the Tigers 218-135.  That score leads me to believe there were more events swam than normal.  Anyway, winners on the weekend for the Tigers included divers Greg Destephen in one event and Dante Jones in the other.  In fact, these were the only winners for Mizzou on Day 2.  Winning on Day 1 were junior Martin Cernasky in the 100m breast, freshman Jan Konarzewski in the 200 backstroke, already posting the 4th fastest time in MU history.

For the #20 ranked women, they fell in much closer fashion to the #23 Cardinals 185-168.  Junior Colleen Gordon set a pool record in the 400 IM, and freshman diver Jordan Morcom won both events, setting the record in the 1m , with senior all-american Kendra Melnychuk right behind her in both.  Senior Lori Halverson scored a win in the 200 freestyle and sophomore Francie Szostak did the same in the 500 free.  Other sophomore getting wins for the squad were Lauren Lavingna in the 200 back and Melissa Jamerson in the 200 fly (we seem to love the 200 meter length events I guess).

Next up for both squads will be the three day Mizzou Invite in early December.

Random Thoughts:

  • Carl Edwards finished an amazing 2008 by winning his 9th race of the season.  He finished in 2nd in both circuits this past season and showed tremendous growth in his ability to win at all tracks.
  • Got to hear Will Franklin make his 2nd career catch, a 42 yard grab against the New Orleans Saints while driving home from Como, prompting the KC Radio guy (Mitch whatever his name is, who I enjoy) to bus out an MIZ-ZOU for Franklin.
  • Also, a great game for 12-Gage, as he caught 4 balls for almost 140 yards and two long TDs to give the Titans their 10th straight win.  My Jets get them next weekend.
  • Back to the Chiefs...I got to listen to both Len Dawson, along with Jim Hanifan on the Rams radio network once I got back to the Chuck.  Each one used every single anti-superlative to describe their teams' play...it was rather funny and somewhat sad.
  • How good is football these days for the fans in New York City?  16-4....versus the sparkling 3-17 that Missouri is putting up.  I did not think Mizzou's win total last year would be better than both teams combined over TWO years, but it seems like they have a shot at it.
  • I think I set a record for the amount of tags on one of my posts.
  • Record Book update coming later today, with the wrestling wrap-ups likely to hit tomorrow...then my fingers will fall off.
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