First a comment on this:
Missouri guard Wes Clark being held out of tonight's game vs. SEMO. Kim Anderson will address after the game. Disciplinary issue.— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) December 3, 2014
It looks like all that talk about maturity in the offseason, and leadership from Wes Clark didn't last very long. I'm not going to pretend that I'm not a Wes Clark fan... as a player. My praise (or criticism) of Clark, or any player for that matter, will always be about their play. I'll do my best to never cast aspersions on anyones character. To have Clark sitting out on an indefinite suspension, again, is more than disappointing. It's a serious concern. We don't know the circumstances, and likely will never know but Kim Anderson has already run off a few guys and came close on two others. This team needs Clarks talent, but they certainly don't need the off court distraction if Clark is going to be that type of guy. I get the impression that Clark is going to get another chance on this one, and I hope he lives up to the talk of the offseason and moves on to become a team leader. For a team that isn't the deepest with talent, losing one of their more talented guards would possibly stunt the growth of the team.
Now that I've talked about the fun part, let's talk about the game. Because to call watching this team play basketball any sort of fun would be a stretch. There are moments when they are fun to watch, like when the offense is attacking and aggressive, and the defense is playing hard and fast... they almost look like they want to be there. Basically the last 10 minutes of the game. What happens during the other 30 minutes of play, I'm not quite sure. If you followed me on twitter during the game, you'll likely see a few themes here.
For one, this team isn't good enough offensively to stand. Last year, Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson could bail out a lot of standing around by making a play, and the year before it was Phil Pressey. Mizzou simply doesn't have players like that right now. Montaque Gill-Caesar might be the closest, with Johnathan Williams next, but outside of those two, it gets rough. Missouri has to find a way to execute offensively in other ways. Ball movement and player movement is paramount to their success. When they get the ball moving and the players move as well, they score. Its really quite amazing that they haven't figured this out by now. For much of the first half they just lacked the spark on both sides of the floor, and what resulted was a halftime deficit and being down by as much as 11 in the first half.
Mizzou’s effort is embarrassing. At what point are they supposed to look like a well coached team that plays hard?— Sam Snelling (@SamSnellingRMN) December 3, 2014
What may have been even more frustrating watching this game is that I keep expecting to see the light flip on for this team and it just doesn't happen. When I say that I don't mean that suddenly they become a 20 win team, but that they learn they have to compete each and every minutes of each game. For far too much of each game the Tigers get out played by lesser talented teams. They seem surprised that the other team is coming to play hard. Part of that is on floor leadership, which is obviously lacking, and the other part is coaching. I'm giving Coach Anderson a big fat mulligan on this whole season, but at some point I want to see that light flip on for these guys. If it doesn't, I'll put that squarely on the coaches shoulders, because whatever his message is, it's not getting through.
Now last night wasn't all abysmal. They still won, and winning is more fun than losing. They shot well, particularly in the second half. Part of the good shooting was better ball movement than they've had almost all year. The perimeter players did a good job of not chucking up three's and working the ball inside-out. When you do these things, you typically shoot better because you aren't closely guarded and most likely have your feet set. Amazing how that works, eh?
If you watched, you had to be a bit dismayed by the poor free throw shooting. At least we aren't SEMO eh? 13-23 is never good, especially when Ryan Rosburg didn't shoot any of those. Deuce Bello missed his two, as did D'Angelo Allen, and the new and improved JW3 FT shooting took a bit of a hit with an 8-14 performance. On the positive side, JW3 shooting 14 FT's is very much a good thing. JW3 was clearly the difference in the game, and it was needed as Mizzou was playing without Wes Clark. Williams looked like the player we expected him to be this season. Part of that was him being more comfortable recovering from his knee issues. The other part was Coach Anderson getting after him at halftime. Either way, it was nice to see him playing like that.
Without Clark we saw a lot of Isabell. He's still rocky at times, and gets himself into bad situations often... but he's a gritty kid and I thought acquitted himself nicely last night. Shamburger hit some BIG shots, and I thought was still quite careless with the ball too often. Mizzou was a turnover fest in the first half, thankfully that calmed in the second half, as the Tigers only turned it over 5 times.
I talked about it above, but this team is going to have to find a way to have that fire from the opening tip. If they don't, they're looking 20 losses in the face.
Sans Clark, some guys got to play a little more, which for a few of the freshmen, that's not really a bad thing.
- Keith Shamburger: 39 minutes
- Johnathan Williams III: 33 minutes
- Montaque Gill-Caesar: 31 minutes
- Tramaine Isabell: 25 minutes
- Ryan Rosburg: 22 minutes
- D'Angelo Allen: 16 minutes
- Namon Wright: 14 minutes
- Deuce Bello: 13 minutes
- Keanau Post: 7 minutes