Believe it or not, I am working the weekend, but have the next three days off for combination of holiday and having worked the weekend. So, because I will not be working tomorrow (and thus not have sufficient time to do my normal Monday Musings), you the reader reap the benefits of a special EARLY Sunday Musings. Light week in Mizzou sports, which given how the week went, is most likely a VERY good thing.
Just a word of warning....if you are still upset about the game last night, and do not want to cloud the remainder of your day/holiday with it, I might suggest NOT reading this post. I am in the same boat, but am going to vent. Consider yourself warned
Click 'Full Story' for more.
Just thought I might start with some positive news. As reported earlier in the week, but after I had already hit the "publish" button, the Mizzou Gymnastics team earned a pre-season ranking of #16, which is tied for the highest pre-season ranking the program has ever received. As always, the depth of the Big XII will be tough, as NU and OU are in the top 10, and ISU is right behind us at #17, but this is a great ranking to start the year. Best Mizzou has ever done during a season was #7 back in 2006.
Mizzou will start their season after the new year on the 12th against Bowling Green....and their schedule has them taking on TWELVE teams either ranked or receiving votes in this initual poll. Should be a solid season for the ladies and they should add to the growing number of Mizzou teams in the top 25.
Speaking of teams in the top 25, the Mizzou Men's Indoor Track team found themselves with a preseason ranking of 23 in the first poll this past week. This is mostly on the (broad) shoulders of the group of throwers Mizzou has, which is likely the deepest bunch in the country. Mizzou is strongest and deepest in the weight throw, as they will return TWO All Americans with Chris Rohr and Tyler Dailey, who are ranked 4th and 6th respectively.
The first action for the Tigers will be Jan 11th at the Missouri Invitational.
can you tell I am building up to something? :-)
Mizzou had just the one game this past week, on Wednesday at home against Illinois. While the men have a nice series going, this was the first game between the women in the last five years. Mizzou hung around early, being down only 2 at the half 28-26. But, their poor shoting (31% percent in the 2nd half) caught up with them, and their fell in the end 66-52.
Mizzou had three players in double figuers, with Alyssa Hollings the leader with 14 points (on 5-14 shooting), with Amanda Hannenman with 11 and Shakara Jones with 10, but only 4 boards. In fact, Mizzou was dominated on the boards, grabbing only 25 to Illinois' 36. With a difference of 11 boards and 11 percent shooting, you do wonder how it was that close?
Coming up next for the now 6-5 Tigers will be the Marriot Cavalier Classic at UVA, where they will take on Marshall Friday night and then the winner/loser of Delaware St/UVA on Saturday night.
So yes, I was at the game last night. It was the 7th MU/ILL game I have ever been to. My first was the last time we won...I have been to six of the eight losses since then. This was the first time I had seen us play in person, though I have seen most of all games on TV here in STL. I do not profess to know as much about college basketball (or basketball in general) as I feel I know about other things. Take my comments for what they are worth, which is likely nothing.
With all the caveats out of the way....here we go.
I have doubts.
I have doubts about whether or not this team has a smart enough basketball IQ to get it done.
I have doubts about the "system" in place and the style of player we are bringing in for it.
Watching our game, a few things became glaringly evident:
#1 - I dont know that I am nearly as mad about the fact we have lost 4 games as I am about the way in which we lost them.
I will admit to being a little down about the MU/OU football game for the 2nd half of the Cal game, but all I saw that night in the 2nd half was no defense and no offensive identity. The same rangh true on defense against Arkansas. And last night...ugh. Credit to Illinois for winning the game, but they did nothing in the last two minutes to do so. On offense we gave them EVERYTHING (with turnovers to people who should not have been charged with handling the ball in most cases), and on defense our lack of rebounding killed us with the final bucket.
#2 - We do not have the shooters to compete right now
We had TEN more shots than Illinois did. In a game decided by one point, that should create a game NOT decided by one point. However, Illinois still made TWO more buckets than we did. Only Leo Lyons (6-9) and JT Tiller (an unexpected 4-7) did anything of value from the field, and you know we did not expect that from Tiller, who pretty much kept us in the game in the 1st half.
#3 - Our team has one of the lower basketball IQ's I have seen
Watching those last possessions, I could not help but think of what possibly was drawn up in the huddle that lead to what I saw on the floor. And let's not kid ourselves here....had Keon Lawrence not tripped over himself at the end, he still was not getting any sort of shot off. He had NO concept of time left on the clock. And yes, I feel for him, his "condition" was clearly evident after the game when he laid on the floor for a good 15 seconds after the buzzer went off. And I credit him for trying to step up, as our appointed leader Stefhon Hannah had disappeared with a 2-12 (including 0-6 from 2 point range) effort. But back to the point, I have not seen us run plays in a half court set. In fact, there were times where our offense looked a little like what we used to see of passes around the perimeter and not a good look coming from the play. Matt Lawrence is not fast enough to create his own open looks, but our screening is weak and lazy, and thus, he never had an open look.
#4 - This was a game our team KNEW we needed to have....they had spoken to it all week...and in the end, they came out with NOTHING.
Getting down 8-0 to start (and giving up the first 6 points in the 2nd half) is no way to come out of the locker room. You simply need to do better than that.
All of these thoughts lead to me one idea....and I hate saying it because I like what he have now over what we had....but I am not certain Mike Anderson's system is right for us.
Yes...I know... he does not have "his" players. But as Gabe D. pointed out this morning, he had a lot more oversight over the players we do have currently than I think he is being given credit for. This should be an experienced team at this point, as all we did was add a Carroll over what we had last year. Unfortunately, with the exception of Lyons, pretty much everyone else has taken a step back of varying lengths. How much of that is on the players themselves? How much of that is on the coaching? I dont know that I can give a reasonable response, but I am starting to believe that a little more of it is on the coaching the more I watch our team flounder in late-game stages.
Alright, the next game for the Tigers will be Thursday at home against Coppin State. Needless to say, tickets are still available. Speaking of tickets, I doubt there were more than 9,000 Mizzou fans in the house last night. With a crowd of just under 22,000 announced, and between the number of Illinois fans on the Mizzou "side" and the gaping holes in the upper deck on the Mizzou "side", and the fact that when I tried to sell off an extra ticket on the Mizzou side that another Mizzou fan walked up to me and put two MORE tickets in my hand...yeah...this game has lost a great deal of shine out here in STL. And to be honest, I do not blame some of the people. If you are staying away because of Quin, that's dumb...get over it. But if you are staying away (and more will now I assure you) because the style of ball we are playing is more maddening than pretty...well...I have more of a tough time finding fault with that.
* Seriously...how in the hell can I be 0-10 in the bowl pick'em competition? That is just insane.
* Lots riding on these last two weeks for my Jets. If they lose out, and get a loss by the Rams in their last game (tough I know), they will end up with the #2 pick I believe. If not, they simply lose out and end up with #3. This draft is pretty darn wide open right now, with I think defense (Dorsey and Long) dominating the early landscape over McFadden on offense.
* Very soon, my thoughts will turn to hockey and my New Jersey Devils...consider yourself warned.
* Wow...my internet just crashed, but the Musings were saved, so I am going to cut this short and post this bad boy before it is too late.
* Everyone have a wonderful holiday week. I do not know that I will return next week, since I will be in Dallas starting Saturday, but if I get some time I will throw something together. If not, thanks for reading, thanks for finding us this year and here's to an even better 2008 for not just Mizzou, but for each one of you.