Missouri’s season unceremoniously ended in the NCAA Tournament’s second round two weeks ago, which means it’s time to reflect on the season that was. After three years of futility, there’s no doubt it’ll be more pleasant to look back on this squad and the things they accomplished. But I also imagine it’ll be a strange exercise: equal parts elation at how far the team came despite the many obstacles it faced and disappointment it faced them in the first place.
To kick things off, we’re going to take a look at the members of the bench mob that saw the floor this season: Brett Rau and Adam Wolf. You know it’s a good season when you can look back and have pleasant memories from these types of guys, especially two who displayed such winning personalities on and off the court.
In a season where Missouri basketball was finally fun again, both Rau and Wolf each had highlights we can point to. What was your favorite memory from both of them this year?
Sam Snelling: If you don’t say Wolf hitting a three to put Missouri over the century mark against Green Bay, I’m not sure where the disconnect in your brain is. With the crowd chanting, whooping, and hollering, the ball found Wolf with the team sitting on 97 points. He released and fired, and the eruption from the crowd was something else. Watching Wolf slowly back pedal with the three fingers held above his head was one of my favorite moments of the year, much less just one that just involved a walk on.
For Rau, that moment had to be against Georgia where he pulled up on a mid-range jumper. Missouri needed him to give them some minutes. He did, and he took a good shot in the flow of the offense. I like that he recognized how open he was and realized he had a good opportunity to get a good shot and took it. If only he’d made it would have been better, but still I chose this moment because it showed Rau as a confident player unafraid of the moment. That’s what Missouri needed him to be in that moment.
Matt Harris: It’s our solemn duty to commemorate the moments when members of the Bench Mob tally points in the ledger. And it’s even more jubilant when both members achieve the feat in the same game. Naturally, Mizzou’s romp over Green Bay meets those parameters, a “steady blowout” where the Tigers had enough flexibility to let Brett Rau and Adam Wolf share the floor. Let’s go to the tape, shall we?
(Also: LOOK AT A SHOT-READY CULLEN VAN LEER IN THE CORNER AS THE WOLFMAN PULLS THE TRIGGER. NO, CULLEN, ADAM IS NOT A BALL MOVER ON THIS POSSESSION.)
I’m a sucker for walk-ons, who do the grunt work that often goes unrecognized, such as simulating the opposition in walkthroughs. That job matters. It takes the scouting report off the page and makes it real. Now, I don’t want to overstate the impact of guys like Wolf, Rau and Ronnie Suggs, but Mizzou was stellar at executing its defensive game plans. Part of that comes from having scholarship guys bought in, but also guys we don’t see on the floor (all that often) drilling them and making prep work productive.
Tashan Reed: Mizzou had just blown a double-digit lead - something it did repeatedly over the course of the 2017-18 season - and found itself in an overtime battle against Mississippi State. The Tigers trailed by as many as five points into OT before coming back and taking the lead on a Kevin Puryear 3-pointer. The Missouri bench went crazy, but no one was more excited than Brett Rau. The walk-on excitedly yelled and jumped into the air...landing right on Michael Porter Jr.’s back.
No he's not coming back.. Brett forgot the no contact rule. Hehe pic.twitter.com/KTA9zRE0w1— MTP (@mauimizzou) February 10, 2018
The moment was hilarious, exciting and terrifying all at the same time. While Rau didn’t play in this game, he did appear in five of the Tigers’ last eight contests.
With about 15 seconds left in Missouri’s December blowout victory over Green Bay, Adam Wolf set a ball screen for [redacted] and drifted back behind the 3-point line. He was wide open and [redacted] found him for a wide-open triple. Of course Wolf, who shot 100 percent from three on the year before going down with a torn ACL, made it. The bucket gave Mizzou its first 100-point performance since 2012 and sent the bench into a frenzy that you would have expected if the Tigers had just won a national championship.
Josh Matejka: For Wolf, it’s about easy as it gets. I was at that Wagner game when he hit his first three and Mizzou Arena went berserk. When your team is hitting garbage-time threes that nearly blow the roof off, you know you’re back.
For Rau, I don’t think there’s one specific moment, but rather more of a memory collage. Missouri had an great bench mob this year, a perfect combination of young guys and hungry veterans who’d yet to be a part of a successful college team. And every time the bench erupted, it seemed like Rau was right up front, along with S&C coach Nicodemus Christopher. You could almost see the weight of the last few years evaporate a little bit each time, and it was glorious.
Chris Bohkay: For Rau, honestly, it was great seeing him playing in the SEC and NCAA Tournaments and not looking completely overwhelmed by the situation and contributing. That he had to play stunk, but that he acquitted himself in a way that did not embarrass himself was terrific. Tip of the cap to him.
As for Wolf, any of the three games he was able to score in were just wonderful moments, not only for what they showed in terms of accomplishment from where Mizzou had come, but also displaying the true sense of team this group of guys felt for each other. The biggest concern going into the season was could these two distinct group of players meld under Cuonzo’s watch? That was answered not only in their play, but their reaction to every time Wolf scored. You could see these guys cared about each other, and that the KA guys and CM guys were going to get along just fine.