Monday Musings - The Championship Week Edition

Well...I am not sure there are two finer weeks of the sports year if you are a basketball fan.  The level of emersion is unlike any other the rest of the season.  So we will kick this edition of the Musings with some basketball thoughts, but there is plenty of other championship action to cover, whether in this story or the Big XII Wrestling Championship Review which will likely get posted later today or tomorrow.  But first...basketball it is

Men's Basketball:

Color me 0-2 for the week.  I thought an OU squad with a healthy Blake Griffin would give Mizzou all sorts of fits.  Not only did the OU guards not take advantage of the double-teams which Griffin induced, but Griffin himself had a fairly pedestrian game himself.  As the action moved down to College Station, I though the Tigers would be able to run the Aggies off the court eventually.  I did not account for the remarkable bench play and even more remarkabale shooting the Aggies put on by hitting some nice shots and getting some great looks with high energy.  So the Tigers come up just short in their quest for a share of the Big XII regular season championship, but as I talked about here (in the fired up half of the post), coming into a season without many expectations only to have something like this happen is what makes for the absolute BEST of seasons.

So the Tigers head to OKC for a rematch potentially of the last three teams they have played.  They will (likely) start with aTm on Wednesday evening, a likely matchup against OU on Friday evening and I am guessing most believe kU would make the finals.  I think the Tigers are firmly holding to a 4 seed in the NCAA.  I dont know what our seed could do with whatever combination of wins and losses, but needless to say any seed of that height is just another marked achievement for the program.  Even when Mizzou was making tournaments for five straight seasons, they were often doing so at lower seeds and forced to upset people to move on.  Now the action will be brought to them as they should be favored in at least their first two NCAA games.  Fun times, no doubt about it.

I suppose a final note about the seniors, as (and with all due respect to Mike Anderson, Jr., I am just not going to cover him) the three of them prepare to leave with such different travels.  No doubt that Leo came in with the highest of potential, especially after turning down Kentucky to come to Mizzou.  We will always remember the flashes of brilliance he displayed, but in the end, I think I will remember him the most for how he became his senior season.  More team oriented and therefore a better player.  Matt Lawrence came to Mizzou from St. Louis, and at one point was willing to take an academic scholarship to allow for Quin Snyder to recruit additional athletes.  His awarding of 6th man of the year only speaks to his completely unselfish nature and serves as a perfect summation of this time.  And DeMarre Carroll, all you need to know about this rather unique couple of seasons in Columbia is that he continued to get up (or out of a hospital bed) time and time again, fighting through all sorts of maladies to become a 1st team all-Big XII member in the season in which Mizzou basketball was resurrected.  His tears on Senior Night told you all you would ever need to know about his dedication to his coach/uncle and to this program.

Women's Basketball

The season is mercifully coming to a close for the Mizzou women's hoops squad, as they played their last two regular season games of the season.  Playing on Tuesday night on Senior Night at Mizzou Arena, the Tigers could not take down the #23 Cyclones, falling 62-47.  Jessra Johnson led the Tigers in scoring with 10 and senior Alyssa Hollins had 9 in her Mizzou Arena finale.  Moving on to this past weekend, Hollins led the way with 16 points in her regular season finale against the Red Raiders from Texas Tech.  However, her effort was not enough, as the Tigers closed out their season with a 63-56.

On the year, the Tigers finished at 13-16 overall and 4-12 in the conference.  I believe the Tigers will be the #11 seed when Big XII Tournament play opens up later this week, and I think that should earn them a 1st round game against Texas, who should enter as the #6 seed.  It will be interesting to see if the Tigers can extend their season past the one more game left on the schedule.

Baseball

The Tigers had a pretty full week with an early-week matchup against Western Illinois (which was a 8-0 win), followed by 4 games against the Ball State Cardinals.  The Tigers were anchored on Friday night by Kyle Gibson, who manhandled the Cardinals and led the Tigers to a victory.  Saturday saw two very high-scoring games, and a double-header split.  Coming back on Sunday, the Tigers got a decent outing from Nick Tepesch (especially the 12 K's) and some solid relief work from Brad Buehler, along with 5 Cardinal errors to give the Tigers three out of four on the weekend and four out of five on the week.  This brings the record for Mizzou around to 6-8, with more games this week against W. Illinois at home before opening the conference season with a tough chore of a roadtrip to Austin.  Mizzou really needs to continue to string wins together to reverse the effects of the early-season slump

Softball

Quite the pitching weekend for the Tigers as they travelled down to Springfield to play in an all-Missouri tournament which was hosted by SMS in their new softball stadium.  The Tigers would sweep the weekend with pretty dominant performances, only giving up 3 runs (all to SLU).  They started their tour with a 6 inning win over UMKC, which saw Stacy Delaney return to full form with a 1-hitter, striking out 10.  Chelsea Thomas would amazingly one-up her teammate with a 5-inning no-hitter of SEMO.  Mizzou would have a tough win over SLU Sunday morning by the score of 4-3, with 5 Tiger errors leading to all three runs being unearned against Jana Hainey before Thomas would take the mound again against the home SMS squad, and promptly threw ANOTHER no-hitter, this time a full 7 inning outing.

Rhea Taylor was a hitting star of the weekend, collecting 7 hits in 13 plate appearances.  The Tigers now sit at 18-3 and will continue at home this coming week against Northern Iowa before heading down to South Carolina to take on Coastal Carolina, Michigan and North Carolina (for 2 games).  Consider the heat turned up, as Michigan was ranked 8th at 13-5 coming into this past week, which North Carolina had the 15th spot on a 14-3 record.  This will be another solid test for the Tigers, and where their pitching depth should certainly come in handy.

Gymnastics

Mizzou took their show on the road again this past weekend and comes back to Missouri with three more wins on their season, pushing their quad meet record to 11-1 overall.  Sarah Shire continues her dominance over pretty much all opponents, taking home her EIGHTH all-around title of the season, this time with the score of 39.375.  Mary Burke also turned in a solid outing, topping 39 for the event as well.  The Tigers won the evening's competition with a final score of 195.700, which while an improvement over their last outing, is still not quite where they need to be as they approach the conference championships.  They will have a great opportunity to get in shape as they close out the regular season at home with a GREAT matchup with the #9 Oregon State Beavers on Friday night at 6:30 p.m.  Defending Big XII All-Around Champion Adrienne Perry (along with Alicia Hatcher and Liz Straatman) will finish the home schedule with Senior Night.  The Big XII Championships will be in two weeks up in Ames, IA.

Men's Golf

The spring season teed off for the men this past weekend down at the USF Invite.  The team came out firing on Day 1 and was in a tie for 6th before falling back a bit to finish in 13th.  Senior Ryne Fisher paced the Tigers with by finishing 18th and even on the 3 rounds.  Senior Peter Malnati was right behind him, with sophomore Will Hogan just another shot behind.  Sophomores William Harrold and Tyler Hills finished out the five for the Tigers.  Highly touted freshman Jace Long did not make the trip down to Florida.

Next up for the squad will be a three week break before the Spring Break Invitational back down in Florida.  Tough life those golfers live....

Coming Up

Um...just about everyone is in action next week as Women's golf will tee off and swimming/iving will be in action as they try to join the NCAA Tournament.

Random Thoughts

  • Not too sure why the Devils cannot seem to beat the Islanders, but that was an ugly loss to finish a great week.  
  • I am getting somewhat tired of the weather flipping around like it has recently.  I am ready for it to just be 70 and not revert back to the 30's
  • Carl Edwards took a good chance to win the race at the end, and their 3rd place is another solid finish
  • Bleacher seats this year at Busch Stadium will be 22 dollars....and while they are not designed to be the cheapest in the place...just saying that makes me wonder what exactly the team is up to
  • Will be interesting to see after all is said and done if Johan Santana will be ready for Opening Day...or if the Mets will just save him for the opening of their new stadium a couple of weeks later
  • Wow...back to the NASCAR race...looked pretty darn NOT full there in Atlanta this past weekend
  • Starting this week is where I really feel people like Gabe Dearmond and Dave Matter make their money with the start of spring practice.
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