A moment of silence for Brett Rau, please. When Cullen VanLeer went down, Cuonzo Martin was almost going to have no choice but to play the walk-on senior for a few minutes per game in CVL’s absence. And then Michael Porter Jr. pulled a Jimmy Chitwood. Pretty sure we know who’s getting CVL’s minutes now.
So about MPJ ... Vahe’s got words.
The announcement delivers something else significant for MU: clarity after weeks and weeks of conjecture about him that came to dominate the thoughts of fans and media and clearly grew tiresome for a team whose achievements almost were being overlooked in the process.
It’s testimony to Martin’s coaching acumen, character and grip on his team that he was able to fend off the noise and stay cognizant of his team’s needs to concentrate on the tasks at hand and his own obligation not to pressure Porter in any way.
“I got to lock in on what’s in front of me,” he said. “That’s what helps me. I just assumed he wasn’t coming back.”
Even amid all the buzz.
“Risky timing,” one scout said, adding that Porter’s return for the postseason is so late that it could potentially hurt his stock. He thought Porter was in a better position to shut down any idea of a return.
But another scout disagreed.
“The upside outweighs the downside,” he said. Scouts aren’t allowed to publicly discuss the players they are evaluating.
Wait. Scouts aren’t allowed to publicly discuss the players they are evaluating? That’s a thing? Anyway.
So yeah. Signing a program-changing recruiting class ... guiding the team through MPJ’s injury ... ending what felt like a decades-long road losing streak ... multiplying last year’s conference win total by five ... Cuonzo Martin has pushed many, many right buttons this year, huh?
At game’s end, after Missouri likely secured its first March Madness berth since 2013, Martin walked past the room in which he first addressed his team and sat down for his postgame presser.
He had a message to convey, and it could not wait.
“I never understood the emotional fatigue or letdown when you struggle in a program,” Martin said, referencing his change in approach to show more compassion.
He believed when no one else did, and now the tide has turned.
Pardon me while I run through a brick wall.
Yesterday at Rock M
- East St. Louis Terrence Hargrove Jr. wing likes what Mizzou is selling at the moment. And evidently Cuonzo Martin doesn’t sleep.
Cuonzo Martin just arrived at St Charles West. Continuing to turn up the heat for Courtney Ramey.— 314 Hoops (@314Hoops) March 8, 2018
- For the sixth time in eight years, Mizzou qualified nine wrestlers for the NCAA Championships, including six grapplers with top-six seeds.
- Oh hey look, Karissa Schweizer won another award.
- Ja’Mari Ward, by the way, also has a shot at some hardware at the NCAA Indoors.
- Mizzou Swimming qualified six for the NCAAs as well, including five first-timers.
- The gauntlet begins: Mizzou Softball, 16-7 overall, begins SEC play at No. 4 Tennessee. Based on current rankings, this is the first of five SEC series against teams ranked 11th or better. Two other SEC foes are ranked, and two others are receiving votes. Good god.