LSU 73 Mizzou 70: Two Post-Game Thoughts

Stacy Revere

It's been a while since I've seen an entire Missouri game.

So, that was disappointing. On the road against a poor shooting team that is hitting bad shots you cannot compound it with silly fouls on jump shooters. You always regret it late in the game when they've inevitably cooled down. The road has a way of making you play through some adversity. Mizzou has not been especially good at it to this point.

Still...

1. This team can take a punch. We like to use boxing analogies in the game threads. To take the metaphor perhaps a step too far, Mizzou's most under-appreciated (and most frustrating) quality is its ability to take the other's team power punch and get back up. As miserable as this team can make its coach (not to mention its fans), it's like an NBA team in that it (pretty much) always makes a run.

On the other hand...

2. This team has intensity issues. I don't usually go in for arm-chair psychology, but most of us already recognize the hole in the roster (i.e., secondary ball handlers) and the issues with floor spacing that come from having so many new players. So I may as well talk about something else. This team has no DeMarre Carroll or J.T. Tiller-type emotional leader on the floor. (Oriakhi is intense but I wouldn't describe him as a leader.) The overwhelming personality of this group is laid back, almost Big Lebowski laid back. What what we are seeing from HC Frank Haith is that he has to supply the emotional intensity more often than he probably cares to. Frank Haith isn't Frank Martin. He's not a natural screamer. To be clear, I'm not in any way suggesting that this group lacks a desire to compete and win. Rather, I'm saying that most of these guys are on the Kareem Rush end of the emotional intensity scale--not the DeMarre Carroll end. That's not a critique; just a description. I'm a laid back guy myself. However, a low level of emotional intensity can easily morph into passive play. Emotional intensity isn't the sort of thing that makes you play well, or hit shots you don't normally hit. But, it can be the difference in securing a loose ball, a rebound, or in challenging a shot. Think that might have mattered tonight? In that sense, I thought the team really missed Keion Bell. He is one of the only defenders who can create easy baskets off his defense at all. He also plays at a consistently high level of emotional intensity.

This is a difficult loss, but nothing that can't be overcome.

I remember watching the Mike Bibby-led '97 Arizona Wildcats title team finish .500 in a meh Pac-10 and then go through four #1 seeds and multiple OT games to a national title. I'm not comparing Mizzou's talent, but the emotional makeup of the two groups is similar. That group of Wildcats was pretty laid back, but they could take a punch. They struggled with many of the same kinds of issues that challenge Mizzou--lots of new players trying to figure out spacing and shots and low emotional intensity. Turns out, you can't make guys have a different emotional makeup. What you can do is allow them play through adversity. It's not the answer any of us probably wants, but it's pretty much the only one.

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