Secretly, we all like math. Math is straightforward. Math is unchanging. Math is constant. 2+2 is always 4. In 5x = 20, x is always 4.
Life is rarely that straight-forward, unchanging and constant. Sports are no exception. I don’t think Cuonzo Martin has the right answer for the equation of “Who is Missouri’s point guard?” because I don’t know if there is a correct answer for the problem.
All three of Martin’s options theoretically make sense for different reasons (excluding Kassius Robertson who I think is better suited at the 2), but on Sunday night none of them were the solution.
Jordan Geist was the best point guard on the floor for Missouri, but he cost them in critical moments and swung the momentum of the game by losing his cool.
Look at this stretch.
That’s not what you need from your upperclassman point guard. Geist lost his composure by getting a silly technical foul, and it ended up being a turning point in the game. You could sense through the television that West Virginia smelled blood, knew it had Missouri back-pedaling a little bit, and took advantage. Missouri had two made baskets the rest of the night.
I thought this was the game for Terrance Phillips to reinsert himself back into the rotation. It’s clear from watching this year’s edition of the Tigers that Phillips is on the outside looking in terms of minutes.
By far their most experienced point guard, Phillips needed to be steady in the key moments when you knew the vice grip press of West Virginia would tighten. That did not happen.
This was a key stretch in the game and a bad stretch for the kid from Oak Hill.
Jevon Carter, with his eight years of college experience (I kid), snatched the ball from Phillips for a quick layup, and you knew at this point that the Tigers were simply holding on (to the lead, not the ball) and like a dazed prizefighter 65 seconds into the round with the bell is a long way from saving them.
Blake Harris has all the makings to become a really good college point guard: quick, great on ball defender, can finish around the rim, plays fearlessly, and looks to get others involved.
I understand starting Harris — he should start most games and play in most situations. Sunday was not the situation to start him or play him a lot of minutes. Harris played too quickly to start and simply made little mistakes things that freshman do but eventually grow out of with time, maturity and development. His time and opportunities will come.
Cuonzo made the right decision to ride with the vets and let the young PG sit against West Virginia’s press. The solution to winning on Sunday was not throwing the young lamb to the wolves.
Sunday, in a game that few Missouri fans had penciled in as a W, the Tigers went out and competed against a team that will likely be a 5-seed or better in this season’s NCAA Tournament. There are a lot of positives to take away from this squad and certainly a lot of room for growth.
There’s plenty of reasons to be optimistic about this team, but the point guard situation is going to be a year-long battle. This team had a 16-point lead and gave it away down the stretch by not executing and by turning it over far too many times.
The hope is that, with games and tests like this, you rack up enough experience to pull out a few of these types of games in conference time, that you learn how to finish and put teams away to secure victories. That's the next step in the evolution of a team and program.
Eventually you either figure out math enough to pass, or you struggle with it the entire semester.