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Rock M Roundtable: The 2014-2015 Basketball Season in Review

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As they met before the SEC season began, the basketball minds of Rock M Nation met again to discuss the season that was.

Well, it was bad, but I don't believe anyone thought it would be this bad. After three months in the wilderness that we called the 2015 SEC basketball season we have re-emerged uninjured, possibly emotionally scarred but no worse for wear. Much like this year's Mizzou squad, we all learned a lot and probably all deserve medals for making out on the other side.

With that said, let's see how our contributors felt about the season, the highs and lows and what they expect in 2015-2016, because as with baseball, there's always next year!

So...what were your impressions on the 2014 - 2015 Mizzou basketball season?

Sam Snelling: I think many of my impressions were documented as we went through it. I felt more positive heading in the season than I should have been, but quickly those hopes were dashed when I watched them play. Even in the preseason they weren't walking as a coherent team, so I figured it would get rougher than I'd hoped. Still, I'm not sure I expected them to not reach double-digit wins. There is plenty of blame for that to go around, but this was certainly the toughest winter of Mizzou basketball that I can remember. If there were any positives to the toughness of watching this team, is that even when they were messing up on the court, they weren't getting in trouble to the degree of players in the recent past. There was no Athena, or restraining orders, or anything like that. We've had some dark times in recent years off the court, now was the time to fit to catch up to us on the court.

kristina: I was cautiously optimistic going into the season, with a tiny voice of "good Lord, it could be ugly" in the back of my head, and chose to ignore that.   Turned out I shouldn't have.   And it was a perfect storm sort of deal, there's not just one single reason we were, well, pretty awful.    I mean, you never had any clue what you were about to watch besides it'd be inconsistent.  Would have liked to see how things played out without Teki's injury.  Not saying that would have led us anywhere, but he just seemed never 100% after coming back.

Fullback U: Massive disappointment. No other way to say it. I'm not sure you can compare it to 2012 football since that was largely due to injuries so I'm can't draw a comparison within recent memory. The team probably played better at the beginning of the season. The loss to UMKC should have warned us but there were several things that could have given us clues in the off-season. There were a couple games, vs Arkansas, Auburn and some others, that if the team simply had any carry-over from 2013-14, they should have won.

jaeger: Obviously I've written a lot about this already, but I'll summarize: my impression was that a first year (in Division I, even) coach trying to instill a disciplined culture amid a total rebuilding project went poorly.  A lot of us, myself included, were expecting a borderline tournament caliber team when the season started.  Obviously, that wasn't the case.  It was essentially the perfect storm - the upheaval of the offseason, starting with a new HC and ending with a lot of key players not playing together until the season started, the discipline issues, the injuries - and I'm not sure Coach Krzyzewski himself could have taken this team to a tournament berth.

Belegcam: Eeehhhhhugh.   Really, really disappointing.  This team seemed to flip between seemingly about to turn the corner, only to be undone by some disaster or another (frustrating), and completely hapless (depressing).  The overall effect did some serious damage to my level of caring about Mizzou basketball.  As annoying as the 13-14 team was, this was much, much worse.

CBonerfied: Went from cautious optimism to frustration to sheer malaise in a three month period.  "Malaise" is the absolute wrong word for a masthead to use, so it's a darn good thing that this site has people like Sam and Chris to hold down the fort.  But...my free time only allows for a few diversions these days, and I chose ones that didn't make me as disappointed this year (mostly South Park reruns and other Comedy Central shows, to be honest).

HHKB Chris: Dumpster. Fire. This was the worst basketball season I've ever witnessed, but I imagine it can't get worse next year. Should have listen to Jack Peglow when he said we were going 0 for the season...

How do you think Kim Anderson and the coaching staff did this year?

Sam Snelling: Anyone that says they did a good job this year are kidding themselves. The proof is in the record, and Mizzou was far too often beaten by teams with lesser talent, and crushed by teams that were slightly more talented. That said, not being in on coaches meetings I can't tell you how much they were willing to sacrifice to set the tone for the program moving forward. Next year and the year after we'll learn a lot more about what kind of coach Kim Anderson and his staff is with that tone now being set and expectations understood.

kristina: He did set the tone on discipline, which is fine.  That aside, they can (need to?) do better with what we're putting on the court, hot sports take.  Would we beat UMKC now?  I'm not so sure.  We were so inconsistent.  I'd like to see a little more emotion, but I'm at the mercy of tv broadcasting as to what I saw.  They definitely need to push the weight room on the off season.

Fullback U: I honestly can't say. I'm not sure I witnessed much coaching as I perceive it, ie: in game X & O and offensive and defensive schemes. I may be wrong but the majority of this season felt like teaching 5th graders, you've got to get them focused and skilled enough to play the game for a full 40 minutes and worry about complicated things later. I don't mean that to insult the players but there was a huge youth movement this year and marginal upperclassmen to provide leadership.

jaeger: I don't know.  I think they made some questionable decisions at times - like the apparent emphasis on defense in the offseason, which probably cost us at least a couple of the nonconference games - but I think ultimately Kim Anderson made the decision to take a long term gain over a short term one.  That meant decisions that were disappointing in the context of this season, but we won't really know whether it was the right call or not until we get a couple years down the road and see where we've ended up.

Belegcam: It's weird that HCKA gave us the exact opposite of what we were expecting from him.  We were thinking that recruiting would take a serious dive, but Anderson (and Fuller and Fulford) brought in a very impressive freshman class.  On the flipside, most of us were sure the Xs and Os aspect of his job wouldn't be a problem at all, but there he kind of fell flat on his face.  Young teams will take their lumps, but a team with this much talent shouldn't let this many games slip away.  Discipline-wise, he's a little stricter than I'd like (I don't think breaches of etiquette are really worthy of multi-game suspensions), but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt on this one.  Better to be too strict than too lax, and he can always relax a bit once the culture is established (a la Pinkel).

CBonerfied: Everyone is right...while I am disappointed as heck about this season, KA gets a pass.  Still think this should have been a .500 team sans injuries, but it's his first year.

HHKB Chris: Well the team won 9 games, so they did not do a great job, period. We saw flashes of what could have been for moments at a time but at no point did it look like anything had gelled. The defense looked better than in year's past, but the offense looked much, much worse. Work on the "O" in the offseason and we've got a more complete team.

What was your highlight moment of the season, what was your low moment of the season?

Sam Snelling: My favorite highlight of the moment was the Braggin' Rights game when Wes Clark his that jumpshot to tie the game. That was sort of the moment when you realized the guts some of the players had and that if they would only mature there would be hope in the future. The low moment for me was the Wes Clark injury. That moment, with both Teki and Namon suspended was just gut wrenching. I think it's well documented that I love that kid as a player, and he was coming into his own as a leader and playing some really good basketball, so to watch him on the floor was just the worst moment of the season for me.

kristina: Post blocking Booker.   The Florida game.  Sham's bucket vs. Auburn on Senior night.  (Can I have three?)  Lowest - Wednesday night as my delusional hope of running the SEC tourney was crushed.  A close second would be watching a D1 player airball a free throw.  

Fullback U: The lowest moment was probably a combination of Wes Clark missing those free throws vs Arkansas and him getting injured at just the wrong time in the season vs South Carolina.
The highlight? That's tough but it'd probably have to be Keith Shamburger's Senior night win over Auburn.

jaeger: The highlight's probably the LSU game to start conference play, because I was at the game, got bonus basketball, and that's the last moment I really had hope that we'd win some games this year.  The low point is either Wes Clark's injury, because it was brutal and the guy was playing his best ball of the season, or the UMKC game, because the shock of going from my bubble team expectations to losing to UMKC was terrible and jarring.

Belegcam: High point: beating LSU.  It was before we knew of their truly perplexing tendency to lose to awful teams, and it got me convinced that the team had turned a corner.
Low point: Either Wes Clark dislocating his elbow (That was a "all is lost" moment) or losing to Kentucky by 50.  Kentucky's much, much better, but still: a (nearly) 50 point loss for a major conference team.

CBonerfied: Highlight of the season was a competitive and outright entertaining Braggin' Rights game, and OT(s) vs. LSU as second place.  I'm not picking a lowlight because...why?

HHKB Chris: Highlight would be Tramaine Isabell hitting that three pointer to send the OSU game to overtime. Lowlight would be night one against UMKC. WE LOST TO UMKC!!!!! Horrible.

What roster turnover do you expect if any?

Sam Snelling: Aside from the graduating seniors, I expect Mizzou to lose no more than two players. I would prefer that the Tigers not have more turnover than that, but I think if they end up adding any more than the three freshmen they have already it has to be Thomas Bryant. Outside of Bryant, they need experience on the roster, so I don't think it makes sense to add more freshmen. I think outside of Bryant, anyone else added will be either JUCO or a 5th year senior.

kristina: Bello.   I hope everyone else stays.  I need therapy. 

Fullback U: Obviously I don't expect the NCAA to extend Keanau Post an extra year of eligibility although I really do think Kim Anderson could turn him into a serviceable if not starting caliber center.
I think you can reasonably replace Keith Shamburger's ability to run an offense with incoming PG Terrance Phillips.
On to the actual roster turnover, I think many assume Deuce Bello will grad-transfer, giving Mizzou 2 spots to try and land Thomas Bryant and Mychal Mulder.
After that I remain ever optimistic that this team remains cohesive although I know the scuttlebutt is that Tramaine Isabell will transfer because he clashed so strongly with Kim Anderson but I remain hopeful that he bought in more as the season went on. After that, I'm not really sure why any of the young players would leave although there are a ton of rumors circulating about everyone it strikes me a shortsighted to sit out a whole year when there's definitely playing time if you stick around this year. That doesn't mean it can't or won't happen, I'm just not buying into the "sky is falling" mentality that struck many Mizzou fans.

jaeger: At this point, I expect Bello to leave, and I expect Clark, Rosburg, and Johnathan Williams III to stay.  I would not be surprised by any of the other guys leaving, nor would I be surprised if they all stayed.  I'd probably pick Isabell as most likely to leave, but he seems to have gone out of his way lately to emphasize his loyalty to Mizzou.  So who knows?  I would be shocked if there was a mass exodus, though.  They seem to have built some camaraderie amidst all this horrible basketball.

Belegcam: I'm hoping for as little as possible (more transfers just seems like it will lead to the Frank Haith Era: Volume 2), but I really don't see any reason for Deuce Bello to stay (for us or for him).  In particular, I'm hoping all the freshmen stick around, so I found Isabell's comments about improving next year to be heartening.  Doesn't sound like a guy who's looking to transfer.

CBonerfied: I can't add to what everyone else has said so far.  I am a DC Jimmie who is not up on the CoMO scuttlebutt.

HHKB Chris: Bello seems gone (Tulsa maybe?) and then I really hope no one else leaves, I want to see this freshman class grow and have a really big senior night celebration for all they accomplished.

Who do you expect to break out as a leader for Mizzou next year?

Sam Snelling: I think both Namon and Teki are prime examples. Teki just needs to get his body right, get stronger with the ball and I think he'll be a really good player. Namon was just building on his confidence late in the season and looked like a completely different player.

kristina: I mean, we were starting to see it out of Clark, so not sure if "break out" applies to him, but would be nice to see him continue along that curve. I love a pass-first point guard , though right now not sure who's the "go to" shooter he's going to pass to, so a little dark horse of a projection, but I'll say Phillips.   Not to mention he's all about Mizzou on his twitter feed, optimism can be a good thing, another plus to Phillips is the court vision, think we severely lack such a thing right now..

Fullback U: "Break out"? I'd probably say either Wes Clark or Namon Wright, probably Wes Clark because he was earning his role on the court providing Mizzou with go-to scoring when the team needed it. This shouldn't be taken as a knock on Johnathan Williams III.

jaeger: I think it has to be Clark and J3.  Clark is well on his way to that despite the season-ending injury, and J3 is basically some right-handed dribbling and shooting practice from being an enormous matchup problem.  I wouldn't be surprised to see D'Angelo Allen come on strong in an energy guy/sixth man type role, because I find it difficult to conceive of him continuing to start over Teki if Teki improves the way he should (now that I think about this, I could see Teki leaving if he's riding the bench in favor of D'Angelo Allen).  But, ultimately, Clark and J3 are likely to be the centerpieces of Mizzou's team for the next two years.

Belegcam: I said Teki Gill-Caesar would break out before conference play opened, and I'll stick with him.  Got to come true sometime, right?  Wes Clark is already a leader in my book.

CBonerfied: Break out as a leader...really hope that person is on the team right now, but I am not sold that they are.  If I have to choose current player, I pick Wes Clark.  But (again, with the limited knowledge disclaimer), the things that Terrence Phillips has said in interviews and on social media make him seem like a guy to watch as a future leader.  Pretty excited about his potential on that front.

HHKB Chris: The clear choice is Wes. Wes has the qualities to be a leader and I think you need that from someone leading the offense. My darkhorse is Tramaine. For all the stuff he had to go through this year, he could only have grown as a result and that to me will lead to a prominent role as a teacher in the coming years. Or I could be way off, I just really like TI.

What will we be discussing in one year's time as it relates to Mizzou hoops?

Sam Snelling: A year out is hard to project because we don't have enough information on who is staying/going. If everyone stays, I think we're talking about an NIT team. But some of that also will depend on what happens throughout the SEC as well. Who stays and goes from other programs should effect Missouri's ability to move up and how far.

kristina: I would hope progress and something of a NIT/NCAA tourney bid, but as I've said, I'm delusional.   
Honestly though, I don't think making the NIT should be out of the question.  More than three conference wins for sure.  Less inconsistency / more of an actual progression as the season goes on. 

Fullback U: Hopefully day one of our SEC Tournament run after a competitive regular season that saw Wes Clark, JW3 and others lead Mizzou in several upset wins on their way to an NCAA tourney bid. I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.

jaeger: I think we'll all be horribly on edge because Mizzou's playing in the SEC Tournament on the NCAA Tournament bubble.  At least, I hope that's where we are.

Belegcam: Mizzou's impending NIT bid.  Weird that the NIT sounds like cockeyed optimism right now.

CBonerfied: My magic 8 ball sees three options (with percent likelihood attached):
a)  The "we're getting better" option:  65%.  Team shows incremental improvement, but not enough (probably not nearly enough) to make the tourney.  Points of discussion here would be roster construction, do the current players have the skill sets that fit what Kim Anderson "wants to do", does KA have specific traits he looks for at each position, etc.
b)  The "time to go nuclear" option:  25%.  Another season of awful play has the fanbase considering the next coaching hire already, and the new AD thinking the same thing.
c)  The "who are we playing in the first round, and thank goodness KA is at Mizzou" option:  10%.  Turns out that KA does have a plan, the current pieces get better, and the new guys know how to play "KA basketball".  Life is good in Tiger World.

HHKB Chris: I'm hoping a good SEC Tournament run, and a NIT invitation. If we're discussing a similar record then we're talking about a new coach.

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That'll do it for this roundtable, thanks to all our contributors for their thoughts and impressions. What do you think?Agree, disagree? Let us know in the comments and let's hope for a better tomorrow!