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Robin Pingeton and Dawn Staley want tonight’s game to be positive

Here are today’s Mizzou Links.

Missouri vs. South Carolina is tonight and there are some things to discuss

Tonight, two of the better women’s college basketball teams in the country will play at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, SC. Robin Pingeton’s Missouri Tigers are 15-4 and currently rank second in the SEC; Dawn Staley’s South Carolina Gamecocks are 12-5 and rank third.

Unfortunately, there will be more to this game than just good basketball. To rehash the reason for bad blood would be pointless, though this is a decent catchall article for those who aren’t familiar. As the two teams prepare to square off for the first time in 2019, both Robin Pingeton and Dawn Staley say they want to move forward from the drama of the past.

[T]he figures at the center of it all are doing their best to diffuse the tension — Carolina coach Dawn Staley and Missouri coach Robin Pingeton have spoken several times since last year’s game at Colonial Life Arena. Staley on Sunday said they had discussed the idea of meeting the night before Monday’s game to prevent any further ugliness.

“We talked about some things at the SEC meetings. We have an opportunity to make something really positive from this,” Pingeton said. “No matter what we do, we have two teams that want to win the game. That’s why you play.”

That’s all important, especially considering the impact Staley and Pingeton have had on their respective programs — they’re both incredibly respected and successful coaches who have instilled their specific brand of basketball at their respective schools. If they actively encouraging the fans to leave the past behind, that will work wonders for the future of what should be a fun rivalry.

That should be it, right? Now all we need to look forward to is good, hard-fought basketball, correct?

Not if Greg Hadley at has anything to say about it! On Sunday — before the above article detailing Staley and Pingeton’s efforts to make peace — Hadley published an article with the headline, “Is Sophie Cunningham a dirty player? It’s not just South Carolina asking anymore”

Feel free to click on the article above, if you so desire. However, if you don’t want to give it a click out of the risk of your blood pressure rising, let me distill it down to a few points.

  • The subtext of the article’s headline implies there are influential voices outside of South Carolina who believe Cunningham is a dirty player. The extent of this “claim” amounts to two separate ESPN analysts who had a brief discussion during a recent televised game. Neither called Cunningham a dirty player; instead, one attributed her aggressiveness to, “swag, and playing with, “an edge,” while the other said, “She’s physical, and she’s aggressive and she’s annoying. But none of those things are dirty.”
  • Hadley follows this with a note that Cunningham has fouled out five times — five!!! — this season and ranks high in the country in personal fouls per game. He then points out that several former Gamecocks have been vocal about their distaste for Cunningham. Imagine that!
  • The column ends by inferring, “And the debate over the cleanliness of her play will continue,” despite there being extremely little evidence of any real debate outside of the state of South Carolina.

So, to recap, the foundation of his article rests on an incredibly subjective claim — focused about a young woman’s character — based on the amount of fouls she records in a few basketball games and the fact that she seems to like playing the, “heel,” role against other teams.

There are other things Hadley discusses — notably, how similar A’ja Wilson and Sophie Cunningham are viewed by their respective Columbias — but the above points hit on the key elements of his, “thesis.”

For a more concise recap from a journalist formerly on the Mizzou beat:

But, hey — anything for those sweet, sweet clicks.

Yesterday at Rock M

More Links:

  • At PowerMizzou, Sean Williams wrote about a 2020 running back recruit who has ties to the Missouri program ($$.)
  • Dave Matter wrote about Jordan Geist and the Tigers’ fight to regain their footing in SEC play. Alex Schiffer also wrote about Saturday’s victory, focusing on how the players’ mentality could shift after a tough road win. The Columbia Tribune also contributed some of its own post-game thoughts.
  • Condolences to all of you Chiefs fans and to Mizzou alum Mitch Morse, who has been a key part of one of the NFL’s best offenses. But at least all of America now gets to celebrate the accomplishments of two really great, high-character guys — Stan Kroenke and Robert Kraft!
  • Alright, Rock M Nation, let’s talk a little shop: the editorial board has had some conversations lately about generating new ideas for #content in 2019, and we wanted crowdsource some opinions around the water cooler.

In the past, we’ve flirted with doing Q&A pieces, but have never really found a formula that works. Q&A’s allow us a way to engage with each other in a fun, accessible format, and we’d love to see something unique come together that can last for a long time. We’ve got some of our own ideas, but we also want to hear from you... would y’all be interested in seeing a regular Rock M Q&A? If so, what kind of things would you want to see? Traditional sports coverage? Questions about anything and everything (food, drink, TV, movies... we’ve got takes on them all)? Are there any writers you want to hear from specifically, or would full editorial board engagement be more appealing? Let us know your thoughts, opinions, ideas, concerns, etc. in the comments. Happy Monday!