Will Cuonzo stay? In discussing the red flags on Martin’s résumé as he emerged as a candidate for the Mizzou basketball job, that’s something that would vaguely come up. His reputation as a supposed job hopper preceded him — three years here, three years there, three years somewhere else.
Even ignoring all context and assuming he is in it for only the short-term, a coach giving Mizzou three good years and getting the program back on track wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. But as we’ve discussed and will continue to discuss, there’s context. He left Missouri State for a bigger job. He left Tennessee, at least in part because Vol fans were still lusting for Bruce Pearl. And he left Cal, well, because of Mizzou.
Missouri Athletic Director Jim Sterk said he wasn’t overly bothered by Martin’s job-hopping, particularly after he spoke to Missouri State President Mike Nietzel.
“Each situation was different,” Sterk said. “Mike Nietzel told him he had to leave, had to accept the Tennessee job: ‘That’s a job you can’t turn down, but you may not be there a long time.’ That turned out that way.
“He moved to Cal, and he’s been there three years, and we’re the ones causing him to be there short-term, so I’m not as concerned with that. I really believe he wants to be here long-term, and he’s said that from the start.”
Cuonzo said his mother became really emotional when he called to tell her last week that he was likely to accept Mizzou’s offer.
“She was so happy,” he said. “She just said, ‘Whatever you want to do.’ I just said, ‘Momma, I think I’m coming home.’ I heard a pause on the phone. What’s going on? You’re talking about (a mother) 60-plus years old.
“My mom’s seen a lot. My mom’s been through a lot; it’s a great feeling for her and my family.”
Sandra, who lives in downtown St. Louis, will now have her four children and 10 grandchildren within two hours of her home when the ones in college aren’t away at school.
For a coach-school relationship to work out long-term, both sides have to want it to work out long-term. But if Martin is winning, and Mizzou is supporting him, then previous job hops don’t necessarily apply. (We’ll see what happens, of course, if the Purdue job were to open up one day.)
The KC Star set Martin up to play to the Mizzou crowd a little bit, asking him about Purdue’s Sweet 16 win over Kansas in 1994.
It’s 23 years later, but Kansas and Purdue are set to meet again in the Sweet 16 at around 8:39 p.m. Thursday at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
“Boilermakers, let’s go,” a beaming Martin said Monday after his introductory news conference at Mizzou Arena.
Meanwhile, Dave Matter looks at what should and shouldn’t be expected of Martin from a recruiting standpoint.
“Cuonzo can show that he’s gotten five-star kids and he can do that at Missouri,” [ESPN recruiting insider Jeff] Borzello said. “There’s talent there (in Missouri). It’s been consistently leaving the state the past several years. You have to be able to keep kids home. When Kim Anderson got there they were swinging for the fences on out of state kids. Now, two of the best St. Louis players in 2018 are already committed (Carte’Are Gordon and Courtney Ramey), but I’m sure Cuonzo thinks, I did it at Cal so I can do it here.”
- Oh hey look, Mizzou Baseball won again. It was harder than it could’ve been, but after bolting to an 8-0 lead, the Tigers held on to beat Little Rock, 11-8. Bryce Montes de Oca struck out four and walked just one in four innings, but two Mizzou errors led to three unearned runs during UALR’s attempted comeback. Regardless, the top four in the Mizzou batting order (Connor Brumfield, Robbie Glendinning, Kameron Misner, and Brett Bond) scored seven runs. Hard to lose when you’re doing that. Mizzou will go for No. 21 in a row Friday at home against Arkansas. Hopefully Eric Beisel will be in attendance. More from The Trib.
- You know what they say ... get 12 hits, drive in 18, and hit two grand slams in a week, and you’ll win SEC freshman of the week and national player of the week honors. It worked for Braxton Burnside, anyway. Hopefully other Mizzou Softball players try that, too.
- It’s the men’s turn in the pool. The NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships begin today in Indianapolis. Mizzou qualified seven individuals — five swimmers and two divers — and are eligible to swim in all five relays.