Basketball is BACK, and we here at Rock M Nation (well, most of us) are so damn excited and our expectations are pretty high. I kicked off my regular season with a visit to Mizzou Arena — my first of three this week — on Tuesday evening to check out the women’s home opener, and wow, I was not expecting it to be so nerve-wracking. The Tigers trailed by 9 as late as the third quarter, and it took until midway through the fourth to regain a (very short-lived) lead. Overtime went better though, and the Tigers stormed back and held off Western Illinois.
It was a wild game — there were 22 lead changes — but the women started their season 1-0, and frankly, that’s all that matters. The Tigers will most definitely have to shore up some things before facing off against Nebraska on Sunday afternoon— the rebounding was pretty abysmal and the defense was severely lacking at times. Aijha Blackwell was in foul trouble from the get-go and virtually a non-factor the entire game, and Hayley Frank fouled out pretty quickly, which was too bad— she had 9 points in limited minutes.
The stat sheet:
My MVPs: Elle Brown was a star again, after having only played 28 minutes TOTAL in her last two years combined (according to the announcers). She set career marks for minutes, points, steals, assists... well, everything. She continues to impress me, and I’m not sure we could have won without her, to be honest. And Amber Smith? WHEW-WEEEEEE. She was on fire, and did exactly what Robin Pingeton asked of her. 27 points and 15 rebounds? That’ll do, Amber. That will do.
Speaking of Amber Smith, Kaylee Schreiner of The Maneater wrote a nice piece about her that I recommend you check out. In it, she talked about the need for the seniors to step up in the wake of Sophie, Lauren and Cierra’s absences. From the piece, which you can read in full here:
This past season, Smith scored 435 points on the season, averaging 12.4 points a game, second in both categories to Cunningham. She led the team in rebounds both offensively and defensively, recording 68 and 175 for the year with a rebounding average of 6.9 per game. Smith is the only player outside of Aldridge and Cunningham who started all 35 games in the 2018-19 season.
“Amber’s had an incredible career so far,” Pingeton said. “To me, what we need from Amber this year is that consistency with the double-double, because she can score the ball again on three different levels.”
Hey, she did just that!
Can you all believe I made it this far into my post and didn’t specifically mention men’s hoops yet?
Now, I know that by the time this posts, it will, in fact, be under 24 hours to game time, but it’s a cool video regardless.
I.CANNOT.WAIT.AND.I.DON’T.KNOW.HOW.I’M.GOING.TO.FUNCTION.ALL.DAY. Is it 7pm yet?!?
Okay... on to the links!
Yesterday at Rock M
- Josh wrote about Jeremiah Tilmon’s undeniable connection to Cuonzo Martin’s legacy.
- The Rock M Hoops Triplets got together to talk about the post players— specifically JT, Mitch, Axel, and everyone’s favorite nature lover, Big ‘Sota.
- Leader of men (and me) / Site Manager Sam, has kept busy churning out SEC basketball previews. Tuesday focused on an overall quick peek at all the teams, tied up in a nice little bow for everyone. There are links to the super in-depth pieces that he did on each team, as well as some quick takes, all-conference player predictions, and a proclamation that a man we all know and love will take home SEC Coach of the Year. No, not Will Wade, you guys. Anyway, check it out. It’s worth your time.
- Basketball savants Sam and Matt got together for an earlier than usual episode of Dive Cuts to commemorate, what else? THE START OF HOOPS SEASON! (WILD CHEERS OF APPLAUSE) Highly recommend. As always. You can also read the recap here.
- Oh yeah... we still talk about football ‘round here. Ryan posted a depth chart for everyone, and guys, I’m a bit worried about Kelly’s 75% health rate. Yikes.
- There also was a new SB Nation Fan Pulse Top 25 posted, and shockingly enough, Mizzou wasn’t on it? WHAT?!? Our fan confidence did improve though, so at least there’s that...
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Matter talked about Odom’s confidence in Taylor Powell, who’s been splitting snaps equally with KB so he’s ready to go if needed on Saturday. Dave also wrote a piece about the Class of 2016 coaching class, and where they are now. You know where two of ‘em are? Facing off against each other this weekend in Athens!
- KC Star: Souichi Terada covered Kelly Bryant’s health and how he’s a “quick healer.” Basically, Kelly is anxious to ramp the workouts back up to hopefully be ready for Georgia.
- PowerMizzou (free): Gabe posted audio & a transcript, while Mitchell Forde posted a Notebook from Barry Odom’s media day press conference. You also can watch video interviews with Derek Dooley & Kelly Bryant.
- Columbia Missourian: Bennett Durando addressed Kelly Bryant’s questionable health and his viability for Saturday, while Liam Quinn & Nick Kelly addressed the rumors regarding Albert O’s conditioning.
- Saturday Down South- Keith Farner posted a piece about Odom’s presser, and Sydney Hunte took a look, from a Georgia perspective, at 5 players to watch out for on Saturday.
- MUTigers.com did a preview of this weekend’s game against Georgia. I like these because they always include some pretty cool stats.
- Dawson Downing is one of 83 nominees for the Bulsworth Trophy, which is awarded to the nation’s best player who began his career as a walk-on. Congrats, Vanilla Gorilla!
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Mr Matter wrote about how Mizzou’s season hinges on the potential of Jeremiah Tilmon.
- PowerMizzou (free): Mitchell wrote about 5 things to watch this season.
- The Maneater: Max Baker and Ian Laird attempted to construct a Team of the Decade for Mizzou Hoops. They named a player at each position as well as a candidate for Honorable Mention. It’s pretty interesting and I suggest you check it out.
- MUTigers.com posted a preview of the Incarnate Word game, in what will begin the 114th (!) season of Missouri Basketball. They included some storylines to watch, took a look at JT, focused on the bucket-getting duo of Smith & Smith, and chatted about the sophomore trio.
Former Mizzou Player News
- Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote about how, if merit and results matter, the Bears should bench Mitch Trubisky and start Chase Daniel.
- The Denver Stiffs (SB Nation Nuggets site) conducted a round table of sorts, and MPJ’s name was brought up several times. They’re all on the bandwagon. I’m on the bandwagon. You’re on the bandwagon. The only people not on it seem to be the coaching staff.
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