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Mizzou Links, 3-28-08

Granted, basketball hasn't been counted yet, but at this exact moment, Mizzou is #20 in the Directors Cup, #2 in the Big 12.  That's an insanely good accomplishment considering where we've been in the past.  Congrats to Mike Alden and the athletic department.

Brian Smith's Mizzou Wrestling team may have finished only #11 this year at nationals, but the Trib says Brian Smith has plenty of reasons to be optimistic for next year.

Smith believed this team could have finished in the top five if not for a few close losses during a disastrous Friday night session. And with five wrestlers returning with national tournament experience, including three All-Americans, he thinks a return to the top five is likely.

"We have a lot of young kids we’ve redshirted this year," Smith said. "We’ve got the five guys in the All-American round, the three that placed. It’s going to be a very, very solid team."

Smith and the Tigers are most excited about the members of a 2007 recruiting class that was ranked No. 2 nationally by Those wrestlers just finished their redshirt seasons.

"We have a strong freshman class coming in next year," said Raymond Jordan, who placed fifth at 184 pounds. "You’re going to see some of those names that a lot of people haven’t heard of that are going to make some noise."

Jordan singled out Troy Dolan, a 125-pounder who won three Pennsylvania state titles before going 28-6 this year wrestling in open tournaments, and Dorian Henderson, a 174-pounder who won three Georgia state championships and went 21-4 this year.

Hickman graduate Tony Pescaglia, who began the year as the starter at 125 pounds before having shoulder and knee surgeries, will return. And Ashtin Primus, who redshirted this year after wrestling as a true freshman at 141 pounds last year, is expected to take senior Josh Wagner’s spot at 149.

It's hard to find a better wrestler name than Ashtin Primus (other than Newly McSpadden, of course).

The Missourian previews Mizzou's chances at the upcoming Big 12 Gymnastics meet.

It's The Chamber!!!  I guess the boys at PM have been saving up on some basketball bits until they could unleash them at once.

Good news--Midwest City (OK) RB David Oku doesn't have a lot of interest in staying in-state ("It would take a whole lot to keep me in state honestly," said Oku. "I like OSU a lot. I'm not a big Sooner fan. It would take a lot to keep me in.")!  Bad news--we're still a minor program in his eyes ("It's been mostly minor schools from this region – Texas Tech, Kansas State, Missouri – no big schools really," he said. "The big schools are all planning to come see me in the summertime.")!  Oof.

In my original bracket, I had Louisville beating Tennessee, and then I did what I always did--I tinkered.  If UT was going to lose to UL, I might as well have them getting upset by South Alabama in the second round!  Whoops.  Points left on the table.  So even when I get a major pick right, I still miss points.  Though if (I mean, WHEN) Xavier upsets UCLA, I'm back in the game baby!

Finally, have you played around with the SI vault yet?  Holy crap...I could spend HOURS on this thing...if I weren't so damn busy at work, I would have already!  For instance, 15 seconds of searching found this...

Missouri stumbled into the Big Eight conference tournament last week, less known by the MISSOURI on its team jerseys than by the nasty title Team Turmoil. Ever since coach Norm Stewart was struck down by cancer a month ago, the Tigers had struggled. On the court, their record was a mediocre 4-4; off it, interim coach Rich Daly was the object of decidedly disrespectful locker-room ridicule.

But somebody in college basketball better figure out how to hold that Tiger, because for three days in Kansas City, nobody, including mighty Oklahoma, could. After a solid 98-86 victory over the Sooners in the championship game, old Mizzou—with Stewart watching from parts unknown and Daly confidently snapping his fashionable suspenders on the sidelines—has become something altogether surprising: a dangerous and versatile outfit.

"I think everyone's trying to [answer the question] 'Are we together?' " Tiger forward Mike Sandbothe said early in the week. Well, the subject had come up. Since Stewart fell ill on a Missouri team flight to Oklahoma on Feb. 9 and was hospitalized for colon surgery, Daly, 48, had struggled with strategy, confidence and insubordination. The interim coach had endured run-ins with everyone from star guard Byron Irvin to 7'1" center-savant Gary Leonard, whom Stewart used to call Socrates because, according to Stewart, he "thinks too much."

"We lacked discipline," admitted Leonard. "We all did stupid stuff we wouldn't do if Coach Stewart was there. His practices used to be verbal abuse, complete hell. We missed that."