I've looked over the past schedules, and tried to remember the particulars about these moments. Based on what I'm about to say, you'd think I would have a better recollection about it. But, I don't. So you're just going to have to live with that admission of shoddy journalism.However, I do remember that it happened, and that I talked about it pretty much incessantly at work for quite awhile afterwards.
Dec 2009: At some point after the Arch Rivalry win, a stretch that included Austin Peay, UMKC, Georgia and Savannah St (What a murderer's row, that was; smallest margin of victory: 15, to Austin Peay) I remember having a thought. And then it happened again during another game. My brain was doing mental math, and causing me to stare into the sports crystal ball that lurks deep in the recesses of my cranium.
And the thought was this: "The Mizzou Basketball team is going to a Final Four in 2012."
I laughed a little on the inside. And like the voice in Field of Dreams it repeated itself, "The Mizzou Basketball team is going to a Final Four in 2012." Okay, this is crazy. Stop talking to me. "The Mizzou Basketball team is going to a Final Four in 2012."
So I watched a little closer, and I saw something in the faces staring back at me from the TV. Marcus. Kimmie. Laurence. Steve. Mike. Something about the way things started to click between them. The attitude. The moments. They all seemed happy to play their part. They deferred to each other. Every once in awhile the rotation would make it so 4 of them were on the floor together. And I saw a synergy there. Something developing under the surface. (This was the part where I worried I was a bit crazy.)
Tiger fans were still flush with Kimmie's free throws and the Elite 8 run from the year before. Rumors of a Pressey or two, a phantom named Tony Mitchell, and some kid out of Florida. (Who I'm supposed to be writing about, I know, Bill!!!) Things were looking up. Maybe I wasn't crazy?
But I found myself speaking these things out loud at my work. I got everything from the "he's obviously insane eye-roll" to outright laughter. Especially as Mitchell never showed and the next year's team kind of muddled its way through the year.
But my brain kept forcing my mouth to keep moving. "The Mizzou Basketball team is going to a Final Four in 2012." just kept pouring out of me. My delivery drivers at work would ask me about it, just to goad me and hear me rant, I think. When Anderson and the team quit on each other last year, and I had a secondary realization (that Anderson's "system" is not, I repeat, NOT built to win a National Championship. It's an underdog strategy that alienates top recruits and has the chance to knock off a high seed once in awhile. I had this epiphany PRIOR to him leaving, which made me sad for my prediction.) I almost faltered and hopped off of my self-made bandwagon. I was awake and online as the news of Haith's hiring swept through Teh Interwebz and I said some things that night that I regretted (and atoned for) the next morning. Again, I almost dropped my head and bit my tongue, but the voice inside wouldn't let me. "The Mizzou Basketball team is going to a Final Four in 2012."
All the Miami nonsense? Kept saying it. "The Mizzou Basketball team is going to a Final Four in 2012."
Laurence's knee. Seriously, COTG? Testing me, and testing me, and testing my "FHaith" like this? Nope. I kept talking about it. "The Mizzou Basketball team is going to a Final Four in 2012."
So fast-forward through all of this year's smugness, all the high-fives. All the champagne showers for the front two rows of pub customers. Here we sit. Two full weekends away from something that has eluded this "basketball school" for its entire history. Its been a long time in the making, and the sheer number of plot twists and shocks and disappointments along the way are mind-boggling. I'm not filling out a bracket and I'm not here to advise you on your degenerate gambling habit.
I just wanted to pass along something that I noticed in December of 2009, and wanted to offer everyone a chance to come sit with me in the comfy seats I've had installed here on this bandwagon.
I know we don't often talk like this around here on RMN. But jinxes, reverse jinxes, hubris, karma and COTG's be damned... I'm saying it:
"The Mizzou Basketball team is going to a Final Four in 2012."