Reviewin' & Previewin' - Indoor Track and Women's Basketball

Well, the winter time sports review continues.  We'll spend a little time on the indoor track season and then also the women's basketball program, though honestly, I dont know how much time I can spend on them considering the season they had.  We'll continue to power through these so we can make sure to touch all the sports and work them in around my busy summer travel schedule :-)  Not much else to muse about today after the long weekend, but I suppose I will come up with something at the end there.

Men's Indoor Track

Tough to really gauge how good or bad a season is in indoor track, even for a program like Mizzou who has a tremendous history of putting out All Americans and a nationally-recognized coach in Dr. McGuire.  Still, the 2007-2008 season began with a nice commendation as the Tigers began ranked 23rd in the USTFCCCA NCAA D-I rankings.  As the season wore on, once again the Tiger throwers impressed on a national level and what appears to be the next in the long line of Tiger heptathletes stepped up to make his presence known.

Tiger sophomore Nick Adcock was one of the top ranked heptathletes all season, including having one of the top 3 scores in the nation at one point.  He even went ahead and erased the Tiger record held by Hans Uldal, and then break it again while winning the Big XII title.  He joined senior Nate Englin (shot) as Big XII champs and also saw Mizzou go an impressive 2-3-4-5 in the weight throw.  Senior  Tyler Dailey and junior Chris Rohr also helped contribute to the Tigers.  In the end, Mizzou placed another two male All-Americans on the season, with a 4th place finish for Adcock, and an 8th for Rohr in the weight throw, the third All-American honor for the junior.

Obviously Mizzou will be returning their two highest decorated athletes next season for the indoor circuit in Adcock and Rohr, but they will lose a good number of experienced throwers in Dailey, Englin and Jason Morris.  Needing to step up next season will be future-junior Andy Oaker and future-sophomores Tim Opfer and Asa Wyatt.  You can always count on Mizzou throwers thanks to the marvelous, year in and year out effort of Coach Brett Halter, who won the Regional Assistant Coach of the Year, the 2nd time he has won such an award (2006 Outdoor).  Oh...and...yeah...he coaches an Olympian.  Also be mindful of future-sophomores Lars Rise in the heptathlon as well, as he very much impressed, especially in the outdoor season, along with Brian Hancock in the pole vault.  And let's not forget about the track side, where senior-to-be Tim Cornell will return in the mile and current frosh Rick Scheff hopes to extend Mizzou's lineage in the 800 meters.

In the end, another successful campaign which saw the Tiger squad in and around the top 25 nationally a good part of the season and continued to add All-Americans to the list.  We should expect Adcock and Rohr to be nationally ranked and favored next year and should hope for new faces to step up in the throwing pit for the Tigers.

Women's Indoor Track

Where the men's squad was VERY strong in the throwing events and the multisport events, the ladies were a little stronger across the board in 2007-2008.  Sure, they still had All-American throwers as is typically the case, but also some award winners in other events too, including on the track.  But once again, another solid season for a squad which I really do feel will always be a credit to the University.  Let's take a look back and a look ahead to see what we can expect in 2008-2009.

Starting at the top and working on down, senior Trisa Nickoley finished the year as the most decorated of female indoor athletes for Mizzou.  Nickoley would win the 800 meters at the Big XII Championships for her third such title and take 7th at the NCAA's for her first All-American honor.  Senior Shermelle Nichols finished a very stellar career for the Tigers by breaking the school record in being one of the five Mizzou All-Americans, the most they had since the 2003 season.  Junior Krishna Lee jumped in as well, placing 13th at the NCAA's (just outside the AA cut-off) and setting the shot record at the Big XII's (before Nichols would later break it) to earn a 3rd place finish where the Tigers went 3-6-7 with Nichols and senior Elizabeth Robe.

So, clearly we will be losing some great and well decorated talent next season with Nickoley and Nicholls moving on, but there will be some good talent remaining.  Aside from Lee in the throwing events, a trio of freshmen will look to make impacts as sophomores.  Returning on the track side will be a number of people who achieved All-Big XII status, including senior-to-be Ellen Ries in the 1,000 meter run, her 2nd such effort.  Also then-sophomore Layne Moore and junior-to-be Blossom Nwaneri took home such honors in the 600 meter run, while junior-to-be Emily Baker took home 8th in the mile.  Watch out for Kinsey Farren (from the X-country team) in the 3000 meter and future-junior Lauren Begany in the high jump.

As you can see, good talent and depth spread across all areas should help the women improve on their 8th place finish in the Big XII's and help them continue to hold their place as one of the overall good programs across both the conference and nation.

Women's Basketball

I really do not even know where to start with this group.  With no way to sugarcoat it, they simply were the team who performed the worst.  I mean...I think I reviewed some of the absolutely one-sided stats the team put up earlier this calendar year when the season ended, but good lord, it is just terrible looking at them again.  What can we expect this coming season?  Well, I dont know that we should expect it to get worse since I am not really sure it can when you only win 2 conference games, but we did not graduate anyone from the team either.  So, let's break it down and see what shakes out.

I don't really know if the fact that most-of-the-time volleyball player Nicole Wilson was the only graduating player this year or not, but for better or worse, she is.  So the Tigers will return ten to the squad (because...well...you have to remember that not everyone makes it through all four years with Cindy Stein) and will add another three including some much needed size.  Wilson played in 28 games (of 31) and did start 5 games in the middle.  She averaged only 9 minutes per game with 0.9 points and 1.1 boards per game.  So again, not much lost from the production of the team.

Returning, however, is another story.  Senior-to-be Alyssa Hollins played in all 31 games and started a team-high 30 of them where she averaged almost 37 minutes per game.  She totaled 16.6 points per game, also a team high, but did so on only 34.6 percent from the field.  In fact, and I dont know how this is possible really, but she shot better from 3 point range (38.1%) than from 2 point range.  Hollins will likely be paired with junior-to-be Toy Richbow who will likely play the point.  Richbow started 28 games and was THE ONLY TIGER TO HAVE MORE ASSISTS THAN TURNOVERS on the season.  Richbow is truly a pass-first, pass-second point guard, as she only averaged 3.2 points per game in over 31 minutes of action.

In the frontcourt, Mizzou has some potential and it did show at times last season.  Sophomore-to-be Shakara Jones started 27 games as true freshman and was 3rd on the team in points with 10.5 per game on a team-WAY-best 47.4% shooting.  In fact, she was only one of two Tigers to shoot over 40% on the season, as not-often-played Raeshara Brown shot 42%.  Jones also 5.5 boards per game and had some great outings on the season, including a game-winning shot against UMKC.  She was typically teamed with future-junior Jessra Johnson, who was 2nd on the team in points with 13.5 (but one only 37.3% shooting) and lead the squad in rebounds with 7.7 per game.   Future-juniors Amanda Hanneman and Marisa Scott seemed to split the rest of the time as they combined to start 34 games (of 31, so you can see just about a split) with 9.6 points combined (more Hanneman than Scott) and 5.7 boards (more Scott than Hanneman).  Other contributors included a pair of sophomore-to-be guards Jasmyn Otte (14.1 min/game, 3.0 ppg and 1.3 rpg) and Raeshara Brown (9.3 min/game and 1.1 ppg).  Sophomore-to-be Bekah Mills may also give some depth in the backcourt as she blew out a knee last season and never saw the floor.

As mentioned earlier, the Tigers signed three players to join the squad this year, with two of them being frontcourt players at 6'3 and taller.  The Tigers will need the help, as they were outrebounded by over 7 boards per game last season.  Looking to help out will be 6'3 Christine Flores from San Antonio, TX and 6'5 Gatorade Player of the Year in Kansas Kendra Frazier.  Flores was not as much of a rebounder, averaging about 17 and just under 7 per game, but Frazier did put up a double-double last season.  Rounding out the class will be 5'11 Bailey Gee, also from Kansas.  Gee averaged over 20 per game and grabbed 7.7 boards per game, which is impressive considering her size.  Gee was just named player of the year in Wichita, the 2nd Tiger in a row to do that as Bekah Mills did it last year.  Both Gee and Frazier were valedictorians from their respective high schools as well.

So what does it all mean?  I dont know.  I mean, I find it hard to believe the team could be worse, but I really have not see a team shoot this poorly before.  It appears we will have a good mix of experience and youth and should have some nice size up front, and some nice scoring from the backcourt.  In the end, can the shooting and the ball handling improve?  It will have to for this team to improve, and I believe it will get a little better, but not enough.  I dont see the Tigers breaking .500 in the league and likely struggle to make the WNIT.  Look for a few games improvement, but not .500 overall again.

Random Thoughts

  • The Federer/Nadal match...whenever you have a match that reduces John McEnroe to primal noises...you know you must have seen something amazing...even for someone like me who pretty much just watches the finals of maybe Wimbledon and the US Open.
  • I will be very curious to see the ratings of the men's final from Wimbledon yesterday.  I cannot help but think the rain delay pushing it into the afternoon.  However, the 2nd delay pushed the end of the match in St. Louis to a SPLIT SCREEN with Cardinal Baseball...if you did not have HD TV, you actually got a little of the screen cut off and the game overlapped the top to where you really could not see the score.  Could not even get a full screen during the baseball game commercials....thanks Cardinal Nation....
  • Not many people have had a better few weeks at one time than Rick Ankiel.
  • I really am amazed as what gets sold for fireworks around here and how strong they are.  Almost amazing more people dont lose hands with these things.
  • Got to check out Joe Cocker/Steve Miller Band last night in STL.  Cocker is still getting it done, can still scream with the best of them and has a nice band at this back.  Steve Miller Band brought in Sonny Charles recently, who allows them to play more jazz/blues and gives them a nice shift and gives them a nice chance to put their musicianship on display.  However, their sound has not really held up over the years quite as well.  But hey...anything for free is decent enough.
  • And good lord did Tony Larussa screw up this weekend.  Was RAKED over the coals by the media for his (mis)handling of Jim Edmonds' return to STL.  Seriously, it was all anyone could talk about last night (since they did not want to talk about coming one 9th inning rally-shy of being swept at home against the Cubs and the Brewers evidently obtaining Sabathia).  Next time Tony, just keep your overthinking mouth shut.
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