[Bumped to the Front Page.]
All wins are good. All road wins are fantastic.
Repeat this mantra silently while you read.
1. This one goes to the coaching staff, both good and bad. Despite the up and down last few minutes of the game, Missouri was mostly in control last night (obviously until the very end). Last night, was in many critical respects the kind of win that says to me, "This isn't just a perfect storm of awesome things--smart, motivated senior led team with an uber-talented backcourt--this guy can coach." The decisions to spread the floor and then to zone Texas on the last possession were positively brilliant. Spreading the floor was the right move. It opened up driving lanes and made Texas come out of the lane to guard. Haith was not just burning clock. He was looking to put Texas' help defense in a bind and negate some of their shot blocking. But, Knight made an insightful point on the telecast. We started the offense too close to the half court line. Dixon's flagrant foul was completely a function of starting the offense too high. He let the defender eat up his entire cushion and then had to clear out. Zoning the Texas inbound play completely befuddled them. Haith and the staff REALLY pants'd Barnes on that one.
2. Last night you could clearly see Denmon's confidence get shaken. He just doesn't know what's going to work. His jumper is consistently short. Layups are rimming out. (By contrast, Dixon's jumper is coated in magnetic sweat--he is catching major rim but it's rattling in.) Last night Denmon could have gotten a couple of calls to go to the line, but he didn't and it seemed to knock him off-balance, off-kilter, and he grew increasingly unsure what to do with the ball. I just wonder if his inability to get healthy on wide open shots versus Tech at home just messed with his head. For the first time he looked like he was "running away" from good shots last night; he was not ready to shoot or drive when he caught the ball off curls, he never threatened his man when Mizzou spread the floor. When he missed that layup in the final minutes it looked like one of my shots. When you try to guide it instead of let it go it sticks in your hand. (I have mastered that miss.) Some speculated in the thread that Denmon is hiding an injury. It's possible, but whatever it might be seems to only impact his shooting from the field. Seems more like a slump that has morphed into a crisis of confidence.
If I were Haith I'd invite Denmon into my office, and I'd be rocking my Starsky-and-Hutch-police-captain-plaid-blazer. I'd say something like this: Son, I'm not worried about you missing a good shot. Missing a good shot ain't the worst thing in this offense. You wanna know what I am worried about?! I'm worried about the ball sticking to ya' hands because you don't have the guts to do what you're supposed to do with it. Now, I don't know that the hell has gotten into you and I don't care! When you come off the damn curl, be ready to dish, drive, or take your shot! YOU GOT FOUR DAYS TO GIT YO ASS IN GEAR! NOW GIT THE HELL OUTTA MY OFFICE!!! [As Denmon walks out shoulders slumped I reach into my desk drawer and take a huge gulp from a bottle of Pepto Bismol.] Grumble.. grumble... tryin' to retire... need this crap... grumble... grumble...
That would soooo work.