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Rock M Roundtable!

1 - I discussed this yesterday, but since none of you joined in the discussion (ahem), I'm going to ask you here: name your sleeper pick for Mizzou's Class of '08.  There doesn't have to be any actual logic behind it.  And for Doug...being that nobody here knows enough about KU's recruiting class to know the difference between studs and sleepers, a different question: Defend the "Need we say more?" Orange Bowl signs KU fans held up Monday night?  Uhh...scoreboard?  Final ranking?  Anyone?  I realize Border War trash-talking doesn't have to actually make sense (thank god), but...still...

2 - Since the last roundtable, Mizzou has lost to NU shorthanded, beaten KSU in thrilling fashion, then didn't have the legs or horses to compete with KU.  KU lost to KSU in Manhattan, shredded CU, and beaten MU.  I think I ask this about every week, but how has your perception of your team changed in the last week?

3 - If the NCAA tourney started today, who makes the Final Four?

4 - Bob Knight's departure: well-timed exit to help Pat Knight build for next year, or shameless hypocrisy for ditching the kids now that he's won #900?

5 - Picks!  ATM @ MU, OU @ CU, UT @ ISU, Tech @ NU, OSU @ KSU, BU @ KU.

Click 'Full Story' to read the answers.

mizzourobot: 1 - Jerrell Jackson. Down here, the Houston folks RAVE about him. And KU's a fine basketball squad right up to the elite 8, and then, like every year, they'll fail. Again. Just like they failed at Arrowhead.  They're the exact same as their football team. Nice. That's all they are. They're "nice."

2 - I want this season to end. Please let it end so we can start fresh. I want a reset button a la the original NES.

3 - Memphis, UCLA, Texas, Duke (as much as I hate to say it).

4 - I have deliberately refused to listen or read anything about Knight's departure. Don't care. The guy was a lunatic and a pretty good coach. He's gone. Let's move on.

5 - MU (upset!), OU, UT, Tech, KSU, BU (upset!)

Michael Atchison: 1 - Here’s a complete and total guess because I don’t follow this stuff quite like I used to, but I’ll take a flyer on Robert Steeples.  Everything I’ve read about this kid suggests that he has the athletic ability and the maturity to be a really good corner in this league.  As for the Orange Bowl stuff, it was like when the Illinois fans chanted "BCS" at us at the end of the Braggin’ Rights game.  It actually took some of the sting out of losing because it was so dumb.  It gave me a smile.

2 - I think our team is tougher and more resilient than I did a week ago.  I’m also not all that afraid of a nucleus next year of Tiller-Keon-Matt-Carroll-Lyons-Safford supplemented by the seven new guys.  I have a suspicion that Safford is going to be a very solid player by the time he’s done in Columbia.  I also wish we could put J.T.’s heart in Leo’s body.

3 - This is just pulling names out of a hat, but I’ll take Carolina (Duke played lights-out last night; I don’t think they can shoot like that all the way to the final four), UCLA and Georgetown as chalk picks, and I’ll take Xavier as the uninvited guest.  I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Kansas there, but I don’t think they’re playing as well now as they were two or three weeks ago.

4 - I’m not a big Bob Knight fan, but I never sensed he was all that motivated by numbers.  You could watch him on the bench the past couple of years and see that he was bored.  I don’t know that he was doing those kids any good.

5 - A&M, OU, Texas, Huskers, Grapes, Jays.

Doug: 1 - Frankly, I can't defend... mainly because it is indefensible.  All I can say, is that the papers in questions, were produced in the University Daily Kansan as a part of a weekly KU Bookstores advertisement.  The signs were not created by the school or the athletic department.  Look, I think both schools should be thrilled with what they accomplished this season on the gridiron.  However, I do think KU fans would make a little less of the Orange Bowl vs. the Cotton Bowl, if not for some rather vocal MU fans that spent the better part of December deriding the Orange Bowl as not as big as the Cotton Bowl.  Both are big... move on.

2 - I didn't have a big expectation that KU would go undefeated this season, especially in Big 12 play.  Obviously, when you're going up against the number one pick in the upcoming draft, you can't afford to play timidly, and KU allowed for that to happen.  These next two games, Baylor and at Texas are huge for Kansas.  They can't overlook the Bears and then have to be ready for another hostile environment.  But, after K-State, I don't think Texas will be anywhere near that kind of atmosphere.

3 - Ummm... I'll go Memphis, UCLA, KU and Duke.  If we really were starting today, I think the loss of Ty Lawson would stunt UNC by the Sweet 16 or Elite Eight.

4 - If Knight (Knight!) waited until the end of the season to retire, there is a slight chance that the new president at Texas Tech could push for a full-fledged coaching search instead of turning the keys directly over to Pat Knight.  So, in that sense, it does give Pat Knight a chance to prove himself over the next 10 games (and, hey, nice start last night) and show that he can handle a Big 12 basketball team.  If Knight (Knight!) returns to coaching in the next couple of years, which he is quoted as saying it's a possibility, then we will know it is shameless hypocrisy.

5 - I think the long break helps MU, but aTm seems to have righted the boat, so I'll go Aggies.  Also, OU, UT, NU, KSU and KU.

The Beef: 1 - To RPT’s defense, he did join the discussion yesterday evening.  As for a sleeper, I have no idea...that’s why they call them sleepers.  But by your "no logic necessary" edict, I will say Madison, just because no one has said his name yet.  And hey, we take pride in killing people from kansas, they should take pride in being picked over us for the Orange Bowl (given the caveat that trash-talking does not have to make sense)

2 - My perception of the team is still the same, and I guess I will disagree some with Atch about the future. (as that should come as a surprise to EVERYONE)  Don’t understand what Matt Lawrence brings to the table now that he is reduced to hitting only FT’s in 30+ minutes.  I still don’t know why no one has told Demarre Carroll that he should not be shooting face up 18 footers and should not be 25 feet away from the basket when a shot goes up.  I guess I just don’t like the basketball IQ of our team, like how you have to jump for rebounds. Other than that, I cannot say I understand Horton or Butterfield playing on Monday, but whatever.  I am pleased to see what Keon and Tiller brought this week, and have zero expectation that it will remain at that or close to that level every game.  In the end, some glimmers of hope for the future, and I do agree about a level of toughness one level higher but this in-coming class had better be bringing a LOT of things with it for this team to improve to a satisfactory level next season.  And yes, in year 3, especially given the amount of "Anderson" players, my expectations will be higher.

3 - I do not believe this is the year we get all chalk in the Final Four, so I guess I need to pick some upsets...I like G’Town, UCLA, Duke and for a sleeper...I like UCONN.  Won 6 in a row, a last second 3-pointer from Roy Hibbard kept them from winning AT G’town.  Road win at Indiana and doing VERY well after their round of suspensions.  They will get their #2 scorer back at the end of the month, and aside from a home game against ND, they are through their tough schedule.  And yes...I realize I could be accused of being a homer, but this team is on the rise and has a great mix of inside and outside.  Adrien had a double-double last night, Thabeet had 7 blocks and AJ Price is finally showing the form most thought he would have before all his issues.  Getting Dyson back on the outside should solidify them going into the Big East Tourney (where they typically do very well) and could set them up for a nice seed come March.

4 - I think Bob’s decision is just that...Bob’s decision.  In Bob’s head, he is the most important thing in the world, and so when Bob’s head told Bob he was done, Bob said he was done.  Bob will coach again I believe, and probably leave the same way.  I think there is some small part of this to help set up Bob’s son with some experience and give him a better shot at keeping the job next year.

5 - I think we lose to aTm at home, I think OU takes CU, I think UT wins at ISU, but a close game.  I think NU wins at home, kSU romps at home and kU wins an entertaining game over a game Baylor squad.

mizzourobot: Right. Both the Cotton and Orange are big. Which is why kU had no business in either one.

Doug: Except for the fact that KU won the Orange Bowl... you're exactly right, they had no business being in Miami.

ZouDave: 1 - Jerrell Jackson, mainly because even to this day nobody outside of the Mizzou coaches seem to know anything about him.  That to me seems to be almost the clinical definition of sleeper.  Not saying he's going to make an immediate impact, a la Carl Gettis, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if Jerrell Jackson ends up being a major contributor.  Our coaches obviously saw something in this kid that others didn't.  They did that with Danario Alexander and Sean Witherspoon as well.  Ever heard of 'em?

2 - Well, I'm finally paying attention to Mizzou basketball.  The reasons for this are numerous, and one certainly is that football season is over, but really it's because of the controversy surrounding our team right now and I just wanted to see what we were made of.  I didn't have a chance to watch the Nebraska game, and I can't remember why...I think it wasn't shown live in KC because of the KSU/ku game.  But I heard about the result, and it sounded like we played with a LOT of heart.  That's all I've really ever asked out of a Mizzou basketball team:  just play like you care.  So I watched the KSU game.  And I'll admit, I left at the beginning of the 2nd half to go get food when KSU extended the lead, and when I returned we were down by 7 or 8 and I thought "Hmm, well maybe they'll make this respectable."  And I was glued to the TV for the rest of that game.  I exchanged text messages with my friend that is a huge KSU fan during the final minute, I'm not sure which one of us was in more disbelief.  But that effort showed me that this team is absolutely capable of being the Missouri team I want, which is one that no matter what the odds are we're going to see 100% effort from them and they're going to care that they're wearing black and gold.  So I watched the ku game, and it was about what I expected.  We didn't play bad, and we didn't let up, we just simply aren't in their league.  It didn't help that kansas also played a good game.  So, in the end, my perception of the team has been completely changed from what I saw in passing earlier in the season.  I believe this team now has an identity, I believe the young guards (Tiller and Keon) are stepping into leadership roles and I believe the fire is alive again.  We're not going to the NCAA Tournament this year, and we may not make it into the NIT, but this team has fire and passion now.  With the infusion of players coming next year that hopefully will buy into the program immediately, we could be seeing the foundation right now.  This could be the equivalent of Gary Pinkel's 2002 team.

3 - kansas, Memphis, Duke and UCLA.  How boring am I?

4 - Shameless hypocrisy, but I also find this completely uninteresting.  I just am not sure I could care any less about Bob Knight or Texas Tech basketball.  Yiggity-yawn.

5 - aTm but it will be close.  OU destroys CU.  Texas beats Iowa State.  Nebraska beats Tech.  KSU beats OSU like they owe the Wildcats money.  Baylor keeps it interesting for a half but kansas ultimately wins by 20.

Michael Atchison: Can a team that currently sits 17-5 with a coach who has won two national championships in the past ten years qualify as a sleeper?

And I’m going to stick up for Matt Lawrence here, especially since I’ve been critical of him through the middle of the season.  Even with his shots not falling, he has been rebounding the ball well from the weak side, and his defense has gotten overlooked.  He made two plays in the closing sequence against K-State – altering Fred Brown’s shot and then tying Bill Walker up – that were the difference between winning and losing.  And his shot will come back.  That stroke is too good for him to stay in a slump like this.  Brian Grawer had the exact same trouble.  His three-point percentage his first two years was 45.6% and 49.6%, respectively, but it plummeted to 32.8% in his junior year (Matt shot 44.3% last year, but he’s making just 32.9% of them this year).  Grawer bounced back to make 40.8% of his threes as a senior.  I expect a similar resurgence for Matt.


The Beef: I think they qualify considering they have come out of relative nowhere (or 11-5 with a pretty bad non-con strength wise) and are barely scraping the top 20.  The other three are all top ranked teams right now, Duke would get a #1 seed today, G’Town and UCLA probably around a 2...given where UCONN is now (which was the question)...I think they fit the bill of a sleeper.

I hope for a similar resurgence in Matt, but his missing that many shots and not providing consistent defense is certainly hurting us right now in some areas.

The Boy: Gee...a major UConn fan picking UConn as his sleeper.  I'm shocked and amazed.

1 - I did very much answer this question yesterday, but I'll go with Gahn McGaffie and Taylor Davis.  Because why not?  And as for baffled me as much as anything else.  " beat us in the biggest game in the history of the rivalry, and everybody in the nation thinks you should have gotten a BCS bowl over us...HA HA!"

(Though KU deserved a BCS bid over Illinois, so I'm still even more baffled by the "BCS" chant at Braggin' Rights.)

2 - The KSU game gave me a glimmer of hope for next year that I didn't have before.  We're going to have the same rebounding problems next year as we do this year--the only real size we're adding is Steve Moore, and I don't expect him to play much next year--but the team will have true leadership in Keon and Tiller.  And yes...the sooner we can dump this senior class, the better.  The team hasn't played any worse without Hannah, and right now the only senior bringing anything to the table is Volkus (never thought I'd be typing THAT sentence).  At least a couple guys from next year's freshman class will need to be ready for prime-time (preferrably English and either Paul or Denmon) for us to take a decent-sized step forward, but presence of actual leadership sure can't hurt.

And yes--a coach's third year is when his program needs to take a step forward.  When Anderson was hired, I looked at the roster and realized he was in an awkward position--your third year is supposed to be your 'make a move' year, only he was going to be replacing a senior class of like 7 guys.  So I was going to give him till his 4th year to really take a step up.  That said, the disintegration of this year's senior class (Grimes getting kicked off, Dandridge transferring, Hannah falling apart, Volkus being extremely limited, and Brown/Horton/Butterfield being totally worthless) actually helps us a bit for next year, as we're going to finish this season with a core of underclassmen--Keon, Tiller, Matt, Carroll, Lyons.  I'm with The Beef in that I worry about the basketball IQ of the big men, but experienced, smart guardplay will compensate for a lot.

As for Matt Lawrence...I'm crossing my fingers for the Grawer Effect.  He really is relatively worthless when his shot isn't falling, but I'll say this about his defense: 1) that really was a fantastic play he made at the end of the KSU game, and 2) while his feet are obviously horrendously slow, he has great hands, and that makes him at least average at defense instead of a total liability.  I'm hoping, though, that Kim English is ready to steal quite a few of his minutes next year.

3 - I think this is the year that Memphis makes a move to the Final Four.  They made it further than I thought they would last year, and they're only better now.  Their non-conference schedule toughened up, so as long as they don't lose their rhythm against the rest of the Crap USA conference, I agree that they'll make it.  To jinx KU, I'll pick them too.  With Lawson, I think UNC has all the components...and Duke looked really, really good yesterday...they're both contenders.  I say they both slip up, though--UNC because of their defense, and Duke because of their weak inside game and reliance on the 3-pointer.  I agree that Georgetown is built for a tourney run.  And my fourth team is...uhh...hmm...I'll say either Texas or some SEC team like Tennessee.  I'll be a Big 12 homer and say Texas.

And to further jinx them, I'll say KU wins it all.  Ha ha, you've got no chance now.

4 - I actually think it makes a lot of sense for him to quit now--he very obviously doesn't have the energy this year that he has in the past, and bowing out now really does give Pat a chance to get his feet wet.  That said, I agree that if he takes another job next year, then he's a total hypocrite.  Unless it's a D2 job...which I think would be awesome.

5 - I say a big home crowd leads MU to another upset...though ATM's size will be a massive problem.  Other picks: OU (though CU's going to upset somebody at home), UT, NU, KSU, KU.

The Beef: They chanted it because they made the BCS and we didn’t....what is there to be baffled about?  The fact that kU deserved it over Illinois does not take away from the fact that Illinois made it and we didn’t.  Seems pretty cut and dry to me.

And don’t like my answers...don’t ask the questions J.   Not like I saw you going out on any real big limbs there either...four teams in the current top 11 I think?

Wow....Bob in D2...that WOULD be awesome.  I’d actually respect that move.

The Boy: I know WHY they chanted it (and held up the newspapers)...I was baffled because I didn't see why they thought it made us look worse than them.

The Beef: At this point, I would like to direct you back to something you said earlier...

"I realize Border War trash-talking doesn't have to actually make sense"

Doug: Well, football trash-talking really doesn't make sense during any basketball game.

I don't really see the logic, "Hey your football team got jobbed!  Perhaps this will make you as the basketball team feel down about yourselves!"

I mean, it's not like the MU basketball team needed help on Monday.

The Boy: Heh...nice.  Yeah, that was my other thought at the time.  It would have made a lot more sense to hold up newspapers that said "We're much, much better than you at basketball."

rptgwb: They were earn HUGE points with me in the respect column if they printed papers in generic black and white that said that exact statement.

Reminds me of when my brother was at the Air Force Academy, and the Cadet squadrons were force to make banners for the dining hall in preparation for the season opener between Air Force and Wofford. Most squadrons were rather creative, making fun of Wofford and their mascot, so on and so forth. But my brother's squadron's banner was absolutely hilarious, because all it said in plain black text was "Wofford is not good at football."

Michael Atchison: With respect to rebounding next year, I suspect that Keith Ramsey and Laurence Bowers might have more immediate impact than Moore.  I think Safford might also grow into that role.  He has a prime time body, but he’s still growing into it.

The Boy: I'm not sure what to think about Safford.  He has a lot of components for a nice game, and he really could blossom with more playing time...but it bugs me how much he pouts and frowns after bad calls or bad plays.  That's the part of his game that might need the biggest improvement.  Then again, he's only a freshman...

Also: Ramsey is (I believe) only 205, Bowers 195.  That doesn't fill me with confidence when it comes to banging around for rebounds.  But if they know how to box out and jump, that's surely a start...

The Beef: But then the enormous ass of Aldrich will still win out over them twice a year.

The Boy: If we're beating most teams and hanging with them at home, I won't mind losing to the EAA as much.

rptgwb: 1 - Zaviar Gooden. Lock it up. He's David Overstreet crossed with Sean Weatherspoon. Methinks that might be a good combination. I'm also excited about seeing what Gahn McGaffie has to offer in the slot.

2 - My perception really hasn't changed. This team is inconsistent. That's who they are and that's who they'll be. Nothing they do surprises me anymore.

3 - Memphis, Kansas, UNC (Duke will die in tourney if outside shooting doesn't remain hot), Georgetown

4 - Shameless hypocrisy. If one of his players quit after reaching a milestone to help prepare the player behind them rather than focusing on the season at hand, Knight would sh*t a chair. I seriously doubt Knight is done coaching though. I don't know if anyone remembers win No. 900, when he essentially told the fans "it was nice of you to show up" in an extremely sarcastic tone. I think Knight wanted out of Lubbock (I can't blame him) and wanted to know his son's spot was safe. Greener pastures will come along, and I don't see Knight passing them up.

5 - Picks
MU > aTm (Ags would kill MU at Reed, but I like MU at home despite DeAndre Jordan and Joe Jones likely combining for 50 pts inside)

Tech > NU

The Beef: Wow...that is some mental image you just put out there in this one...I doubt even ZD has a picture for that.

The Boy: And if he does, he better not pass it along.

ZouDave: In the interest of keeping our site PG, I'm not even going to try.

But I could.

The Beef: Oh please...PG-13 is fine...hell...some Disney movies are PG these days.