So there’s quite a bit going on in Tallahassee at the moment. First things first: Mizzou Women’s Basketball tips off in its second consecutive NCAA Tournament, battling No. 11 seed USF.
Mizzou is back in the NCAA Tournament, clinching back-to-back appearances in the Big Dance for the first time since 1985 and 1986. The Tigers earned a 6-seed in the Stockton (Calif.) bracket and will face No. 11-seed South Florida in Tallahassee, Fla. Tip is set for 4:15 p.m. CT on ESPN2 at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center. The team who advances will face the winner between No. 3 Florida State/No. 14 Western Illinois on Sunday.
The game is big because, well, it’s the NCAA Tournament, and Mizzou played well enough down the stretch to set pretty high expectations. It’s also big because it could be the last time sisters Sophie and Lindsey Cunningham play together. The Trib, KC Star, and Missourian all have pieces on that.
That, of course, is not the only family tie worth mentioning at the moment.
Sophomore forward Cierra Porter is focused on the Missouri women’s upcoming first-round NCAA Tournament game and said she hasn’t talked to her dad, Michael Porter Sr., “a whole lot” since Lorenzo Romar was fired Wednesday as Washington’s coach.
Porter Sr. — who worked on Tigers coach Robin Pingeton’s staff for six seasons and is married to her sister, Lisa — was hired as an assistant on Romar’s staff last May and Cierra’s brother, Michael Porter Jr., is a Huskies signee and the No. 1 prospect in the 2017 recruiting class, according to ESPN and Rivals.com. [...]
“Our family is extremely close,” Pingeton said. “We’re just an extremely close-knit group and, even though they were in Washington, that didn’t change anything. But just like any family, to be able to be back together would be pretty special.”
This is a funny place to be at the moment. We’re trying to get to know Cuonzo Martin the coach, the guy who went from fallback to front and center and the guy who’s trying to keep Mizzou’s lone 2017 signee, C.J. Roberts, in black and gold. This is a fun time to dig into a new coach’s history, and lord knows I’m going to go pretty hard down that road in the coming days.
But we’re also watching Cuonzo Martin, Amateur Magician, attempting to pull a set of recruiting rabbits out of his hat.
The Porter connection is both huge and hard to ignore. There’s plenty of reason to be intrigued by the thought of a Cuonzo Martin that doesn’t include Michael Porter Jr. and company. But ... holy smokes, is Porter good.
On Porter and his high school team, from Seattle Times columnist Matt Calkins: “Short of slashing the team buses’ tires, there isn’t really any way to slow the phenom, who can pull up from 24 feet just as easily as he can dunk from 12. It’s awesome. It’s beautiful.
“I mean … have you seen these guys play? This isn’t first-year coach Brandon Roy simply rolling out the basketball — this is a high-flyin’, full-court-pressin, pickin-and-rollin’ symphony.”
That’s Former Washington commit Michael Porter Jr., by the way.
MPJ and brother Jontay obviously aren’t locks to end up in Columbia, and Lorenzo Romar’s firing will cause one hell of a recruiting domino effect wherever they end up. But ... it does appear the Mizzou thing could happen. And wow, if it does...
Yes, if he signed a Letter of Intent, he has to technically be let out of it by UW to go wherever he ends up. Yes, he has to sit out a year if UW doesn’t agree to that. But UW will agree to it.
- Day one of the NCAA Wrestling Championships went quite well for Mizzou. The Tigers stand in fifth place and qualified five for the quarterfinals: J’den Cox, Joey Lavallee, Jaydin Eierman, Lavion Mayes, and Daniel Lewis. Cox and Lavallee each racked up some bonus points as well — Cox with a pin and a major decision, Lavallee with two pins (the second one quite dramatic). The Trib’s Blake Toppmeyer has been doing yeoman’s work at the tournament, posting updates on Twitter, getting a daily recap up, and posting regular updates at Behind the Stripes. (He also has a tale-of-the-tape comparison of Cox and Ben Askren.) The Post-Dispatch and KC Star have coverage as well.
- Day 2 of the NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships, meanwhile, produced decent results. Lauren Reedy (1-meter dive) and Kira Zubar (500 free) earned Honorable Mention All-America status, as did the 400-meter relay team, paced by Nadine Laemmler.
- Mizzou Softball is back in Florida for one more non-conference tournament, beginning today at 3 pm CT. The Tigers play Ohio State and Rutgers today, North Dakota State and USF on Saturday, and Monmouth on Sunday. Busy, busy. Meanwhile, Mizzou Baseball’s win streak is on the line in Tuscaloosa tonight.