This coming Thursday, our Tigers of Ol' Mizzou take on the Tigers of LSU in our first of 18 SEC conference games and are looking to build off of a so far undefeated 2015.
The Tigers kicked off the Kim Anderson era in, well, downright hideous fashion losing their first game of the season at home to UMKC, and it's been bumpy ever since. The Tigers sit at 6-7 and completed their first non winning nonconference season since the 1978/1979 season, losing to every quality nonconference opponent on the docket, but looking better against Illinois and Oklahoma State than they did versus Purdue or Xavier (not to mention Arizona.)
With all that in mind, here is how our contributors felt about the nonconference season, Kim Anderson and what they expect in the coming months.
The non con is over, how have your expectations for the rest of the season changed, if at all?
Mizzou Hoops Wrap-Up, Game 13: Lipscomb
Wins are probably going to be pretty few and far between from here on out, so enjoy them when they happen.
Sam Snelling: My expectations took a punch in the throat on day one when they lost to UMKC. I adjusted on the fly in a hurry. I still believe in the talent to win a lot of games exists on this team. I think the possibility of even sniffing an NCAA bid (which I thought if things broke the right way was possible) is out of the question. That being said, they've proven the last couple games that they can be a lot better than they've shown in the first 9-10 games. So progress is what is most important at this stage.
CBonerfied: I will admit that my expectations were a bit unrealistic in hindsight; I expected 8 or 9 wins. However, if we had Gant for UMKC and if Anderson would have decided to go small(er) earlier, I think we'd be at that number.
belegcam: Yeah, my expectations were definitely too rosy in hindsight. All I can say is, Coach Anderson's voice had me under its spell. Right now, my baseline expectations are for the team to play hard, be in every game for at least a half, and scare the bejeezus out of somebody a couple of times. Going on a tear like Georgia did last year and getting a NIT bid would be awesome.
FullbackU: Mizzou will not be favored in any of its remaining games. Mizzou will continue to struggle with focus and preparation and this will be most evident when we play the second game of the week, on the road, against a non "Name" opponent that the team doesn't get excited for. It is incredibly frustrating to watch this team struggle, at varying times, with both offense, turning the ball over, and free throws.
kristina: Um, cautious optimism for this season might be down a tad, but at the same time, we knew it would be a rebuilding year under a new coach. Roller-coaster in terms of what to expect, but I'll still take watching this year over last. Got to buy into the process, right? Very frustrating at times for sure though, and sometimes its elation and a face palm at the same player.
HHKB Chris: Well, my expectations imploded after the UMKC game, in my time as a Mizzou fan I can't recall a worse loss for the basketball team. So yeah, everything got re-adjusted any my expectations changed from an outside chance at being in the March discussion for an NIT bid to just a learning season that shows progress on the backend.
Who was your Non Con MVP, LVP, and why?
Sam Snelling: MVP is JW3 without question. How good has he become? Since coming back from Hawaii he's getting 16-20 points and close to 10 rebounds a game. He's turned into a stud. LVP... I don't like this because it's kind of piling on. But Keanau Post has been a let down. I think he's done a good job of staying up for his teammates. I hope he continues to stay positive and be a good teammate and I've heard he's a great kid.
CBonerfied: MVP: Don't know how you can say anyone other than J3. LVP: don't know how you can say anyone other than Post. The why for each is performance, DUH CHRIS.
belegcam: Lots of potential choices for MVP, for the non-ideal reason that nobody clearly took it. J3's probably the best choice, but I'll give it to D'Angelo Allen for most exceeding my expectations. This was a guy that we were projecting to redshirt this spring. For LVP, sorry, Keanau. Pretty much useless so far. Not what you want out of a senior on a young team.
FullbackU: Johnathan Williams III should be the obvious choice for MVP. He's still not quite there but he's obviously the team's MVP based on getting designed calls and the coach's trust in him. Having a potential double double every night is pretty comforting, now show it to me during conference play on the second game of the week.
LVP probably has to go to Keanau Post as the team played well or even better without him for Illinois and Oklahoma State. Some of that was due to matchups and the return of Jakeenan Gant, but when a guy doesn't see the court at all and he's eligible to ... that doesn't speak well for his importance.
kristina: Got to be JW3. Um, LVP for me is Rosburg. (Sorry, Bill) Post at least had some impact yesterday, Rosburg looks lost at times and HOLY HELL can't buy a FT right now.
HHKB Chris: My MVP, like everyone's is JW3 whose been on fire since getting back from Hawaii. He's doing it all and without him we'd be a complete disaster. The LVP is the Rosburg/KP combo, those dudes need some serious work. Rosburg can't hit a FT to save his life or stay on his feet, while KP is like me in little league, great in practice and then a disaster in the real games. Hopefully what KP did against Lipscomb can light a fire under him to get it together.
Consensus MVP: JW3
Consensus LVP: Mizzou's Posts (Ryan and Keanau)
Which player breaks out in SEC play?
Sam Snelling: The prime guy for me is Wes Clark, who has shown flashes and is probably the most talented guard. I still think Teki is good enough to shoulder some of the load he's carried, but if he could be more of a secondary instead of a primary I think that would help his development. Clark is the guy that can shoulder that load now.
CBonerfied: I'll keep beating the Gant drum.
belegcam: Teki Gill-Caesar becomes the guy that the whole SEC is scared to death of.
FullbackU: Jakeenan Grant - the newest Mizzou player and future #MizzouGrate. His combination of shooting touch, athleticism and hustle will mean he continues to see the court, especially if Teki Gill-Caeser is out for any length of time.
kristina: Um, beyond JW3, I'll go with Isabel w/o having read any updates on MGC.
HHKB Chris: I'm going Gant, just because we haven't see him really step it up and really be another big body that can dominate, and yes this is a lot to ask of a freshman who missed the first 9 games of the season, but this is what I want.
SEC Breakout Player:
Jakeenan Gant: 3 votes
Montaque Gill-Caeser: 2 votes
Wes Clark: 1 vote
What's your predicted SEC record?
Sam Snelling: I'll say they get 7 wins, 11 losses. Anything more is just great.
CBonerfied: Not knowing the quality of the league, but assuming it's similar to the last few years, I will predict 8-10 for league. We're too young and too inconsistent for me to say higher. I wish I could answer this question in two weeks to see if the progress from the Illini and OSU games moves forward against inferior opponents, but I have to assume the worst at this point.
belegcam: 8-10 seems about right.
FullbackU: .500? Please? L- LSU, W- Auburn, L- Kentucky, W-Tennessee, W-Texas A&M, L-Arkansas, L-Kentucky, W-Ole Miss, L-Alabama, W-Texas A&M, L-South Carolina, W-Miss St, L-Arkansas, L-Vanderbilt, W-Florida, L-Georgia, W-Auburn, W-Miss St
kristina: I'll take .500. Anything less remind myself it's rebuilding, anything above is just more icing on the cake.
HHKB Chris: Looking at the schedule I'm saying 6 or 7 wins, dependent on how they continue to grow. If they can win this Saturday at Auburn I think that would change my expectations again and I'd start getting a little more excited about the possibilities of some upsets down the road.
Consensus SEC Record: .500?
3 months into Kim Anderson's first season, how do you think he's doing?
Sam Snelling: It's apparent that he was dealt a pretty tough hand with this young (albeit talented) roster. The key for him is keeping this team together through the next few months and building on the progress they've made to this point. I don't think the 2015 recruiting class is going to be that vital, as I think another year with the Freshmen and Sophomores on this team will win a lot more games, but they need to setup for a very good 2016 class.
CBonerfied: It's been a mixed bag for Kim so far. He won the offseason, but the in-game stuff has left a bit to be desired. I do think he's an honest and forthcoming leader and I think he is promising. Still not sure what his offensive plan is, though. I think the pieces and skill sets are there to have a better team offense than they've shown so far; need buy-in from guys to make the extra pass and to show more awareness in the half-court offense.
belegcam: Decently enough. It's been pretty well proven that just being a True Son isn't quite enough to fix the on-court or in-stands problems, but we shouldn't have been expecting magic in the first place. Given time to develop his players, I think he'll do just fine.
FullbackU: I take issue with anyone who thinks Kim Anderson is the problem with this Mizzou team. He's deftly managing this team like we haven't seen in years. He's substituting players as needed, working on matchups, getting the youth involved and experienced in critical scenarios (even if that means they lose the game) and he's constantly being up front and honest with us fans and the team. If you don't perform, you will sit, if you aren't a plus player, your minutes will go elsewhere. It's now a matter of the players stepping up.
Anyone who thinks this Kim Anderson is the problem, I assume is a troll.
kristina: Given young players that need some more time playing with each other, can't really fault him much. Messing with the lineups, sitting guys for complete games if need be, definitely sent/sending a message on his expectations beyond the court.
HHKB Chris: He's done as well as could be expected I guess, however coming from D2 where most of us had seen very limited bits and pieces of his teams didn't allow for much of an expectation to begin with. I've mellowed it seems with age to overreact, however had this team lost at home to Lipscomb on top of UMKC in the first 2 months of this season, I'd have had some sort of reaction. The progress Frank Martin has shown at South Carolina in year three has proven the power of patience, and hopefully KA can do that as well, but show up better in year 2 than Scar did. Clearly being Kim Anderson did nothing for attendance, but I'm going to have to get over that.
Consensus: Still Waiting
Will Kentucky go undefeated, will Mississippi State go defeated?
Sam Snelling: No. On both. I think Kentucky will get close, but somebody will get them in Februrary. They'll be caught sleeping on a mid-week game and lose. That will be their last loss. And I don't know about Mississippi State, I think no... but man have they tanked and tanked fast. I'll say they get at least a couple wins. Like Ole Miss at home, and maybe Auburn.
CBonerfied: Kentucky won't lose until they lose to UVa in the national championship game. Mississippi State will beat someone.
belegcam: No and no. Season's too long for either of those things to happen. Kentucky will be dominant, but will slip up somewhere, and Mississippi State will ruin somebody's day.
FullbackU: Kentucky, barring any more injuries, goes undefeated. Mississippi State and Mizzou will challenge for worst records in the SEC.
kristina: Wouldn't surprise me on the former. On one side, they could hit a rough patch like the start of the Texas game, but they figured things out in that one, you also have Columbia cutting close, so it's possible, but after watching them derail so many teams, maybe not so much. I'll say one loss. Um, besides RMN content on the SEC teams, haven't read up on Miss. State. I'll assume they are awful and thus we might beat them.
HHKB Chris: I do think UK goes undefeated, barring injuries or snow storms that keep them from getting to an arena with more than an hour or so before tip off. Looking at their schedule, their game at South Carolina on the 24th should tell us about whether they can keep their heads about them in a hostile environment where they took a loss last year. As for State, they will not go defeated! They'll beat some teams at home, don't think they pull out a conference road win, but I do think they get a game or two in the win column.
There you have it, the thoughts of some of your fellow RMNers, what do you think? Can Mizzou hit .500 in conference, can they make a run, are we all just full of it? Let us know in the comments below and let's take it to LSU this Thursday at Mizzou Arena!