It’s officially basketball season, and since Mizzou is officially a basketball school again, let’s jump into the deep end with our first preview of the season.
Without a certain former rival signing up to play a regular matchup, Mizzou went out and hooked up with former Big8/12 Conference-mate Iowa State and setup a home and home. The first part of the series is tonight, with Mizzou traveling to Ames next season.
RE-MEET YOUR FORMER BIG 8 RIVAL, THE IOWA STATE CYCLONES
The Tigers and Cyclones ended their annual season series when Missouri left the league for the SEC in 2012. Since then, under three seasons of Fred Hoiberg and the last two under Steve Prohm, the Cyclones haven’t missed an NCAA Tournament.
Things have been cruising under Prohm at Iowa State. After years of success at Murray State, he was ready for the jump to a power conference. Prohm wanted to be at a basketball school where the sport was prioritized and important, not an afterthought. And if you’ve ever attended, or even seen a game a Hilton Coliseum on television you understand he found what he was looking for. The Cyclones struggled for years at the end of Larry Eustachy’s tenure through the early part of Fred Hoiberg’s, a span of 10 years where the Cyclones failed to win 20 games and went through three coaches before settling on their prized son in Hoiberg. Prohm seemed a good fit to continue on the program which Hoiberg had set. He’s already established he can land elite players with his last two classes, and he’s proven he’ll be more than adequate on the sidelines in Ames to keep the Coliseum rocking.
CYCLONES RETURNING PLAYERS
There isn’t much coming back, but Solomon Young had a solid freshman campaign and got stronger as he got more comfortable. In his last 14 games, Young only played fewer than 20 minutes in one game, a run that saw the Cyclones go 11-3 (they were 13-8 otherwise). Clearly when Young started playing better the Cyclones got better. Young is an energy player and likely won’t lead the team in scoring, but he can be as important of a player as any with his defense, rebounding and opportune scoring.
Aside from Young, Prohm can likely count on Donovan Jackson. Jackson arrived last year from Junior College and played a reliable backup role incredibly consistently. He rarely played more than 20 minutes but only once played fewer than 10. So it’s easy to see how a steady hand could be important for the Cyclones this year. If you’re looking for someone to break out a little bit, that candidate might be Jakolby Long. Long was a 4-star guard who arrived with some fanfare but failed to make an impression in year one. Long is talented, but he’ll have needed a big offseason for him to wedge his way into the lineup early. Nick Babb, the Arkansas transfer, had a nice season but shouldn’t be looked at much more than a role guy. Cameron Lard enrolled in classes in January and redshirted, he’s a talented guy who still has some seasoning to do.
|Sr||Hans Brase||6'9||229||Grad Transfer||POST|
|Sr||Jeff Beverly||6'6||242||Grad Transfer||CF|
|Sr||Zoran Talley Jr||6'7||190||Grad Transfer||CF|
Lindell Wigginton is a legitimate stud. Rated as a top 40 prospect he’s got a college ready body and will be counted on early and often for the Cyclones. Terrence Lewis is a long rangy guard who should make an instant impact defensively as the rest of his game rounds out. After the two freshmen, Prohm went to the transfer market. Michael Jacobson is a 6’9 transfer from Nebraska who’ll sit out, and Marial Shayok is a 6’5 wing or combo forward from Virginia. Hans Brase is a grad transfer from Princeton who is highly skilled by has missed a lot of time due to a couple serious knee injuries. And Jeff Beverly is a tough rugged undersized post player who should be able to help early and often.
PG: Lindell Wigginton v Blake Harris
CG: Donovan Jackson v Kassius Robertson
WING: Nick Weiler-Babb v Jordan Barnett
CF: Jeff Beverly v Michael Porter Jr
POST: Solomon Young v Jeremiah Tilmon
It was much discussed the last few days, but it would seem the possibility of Robertson moving up a spot to play point is likely at this point, but we’re erring on the safe side and projecting the same five who started against Kansas. If it’s Robertson, I’d think Harris and Terrence Phillips both come off the bench with either Cullen VanLeer sliding in at the two or Jordan Barnett moving over to give the Tigers an entirely unique and HUGE lineup with Michael Porter Jr at the 3, and either Kevin Puryear or Jontay Porter alongside Tilmon.
The question for me is how Mizzou matches up against Wigginton. They should have the offensive advantage at most every position but Wiggington is a strong and aggressive point guard who could cause matchup problems defensively.
But the Tigers should have the advantage on the interior with Iowa State boasting an undersized post in Beverly and virtually a size advantage for the good guys at every position.
In their exhibition game against Emporia State (future Mizzou opponent), the Cyclones were short a few players with Terrence Lewis and Cameron Lard suspended, and Hans Brase still recovering from an offseason injury. So down to just seven players the Cyclones struggled a little bit. They’ll have Lewis available, but Lard is still suspended and Brase is still sitting out with an injury. So the Tigers should have a depth advantage.
Both teams are still a bit of a work in progress so there’s a good chance we see some weird combinations and things get messy. But ultimately I think this is Missouri’s game to lose. They have more talent overall and they’ll be in front of a packed house. Ya know, the whole momentum thing.
Ultimately I’ve got Mizzou winning this and I don’t think it’s particularly close. This year the Cyclones look to me like a team that takes a step back to the bottom of the Big 12. I do like Prohm a lot and think he’ll have them corrected before too long, but there is just too much turnover and not enough experience and talent on this roster to carry the weight.
I’ll say Mizzou 83, Iowa State 72.
Leave your own predictions below. And, we might as well start the Trifecta again. I’ll take MPJ, Barnett and Kassius.