The Missouri Tigers will suit up and play the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles tomorrow on Norm Stewart Court, but no game after tomorrow is a given.
As with almost every discussion this year, the main focus of basketball’s availability this week was how COVID affects this season. For Mizzou fans, Mark Smith delivered good news very quickly when he said, “Everyone on our team is negative, so we are ready to go.”
Unfortunately for the Tigers, other teams on their schedule cannot say the same. The early-season tournament the Tigers were supposed to play is already in jeopardy. Originally, Mizzou was scheduled to face the Oregon Ducks, but according to Head Coach Cuonzo Martin, that might no longer be the case, “It’s still in the air right now… we have been presented with 6 different teams to play in Connecticut.”
With so much uncertainty already, Cuonzo explained the approach for the Tigers in this ever-changing season, “It’s one practice at a time, and if a game presents itself, then let’s play the game.” Jeremiah Tilmon had a similar outlook, as well, “Each game you play could be your last, you just gotta go out there and give it your all… you can’t take none of these games for granted.”
Speaking of Tilly, his maturation and growth this offseason was a big topic of discussion today. Mark Smith was the first one to shout Jeremiah’s praises, saying “Tilly is dominating in practice… when he’s getting the ball in the paint, I feel like he’s scoring every time.” Likewise, Coach had great things to say about how Jeremiah has performed in practices headed into this season, “I can see the growth… when competition presents itself… it brings out something different in him… He’s been great in practice, scoring the ball and leading.”
Tilly also echoed the thoughts of his coach and peers, saying, “I’m not rushing anything, it’s a different person.” However, the most noteworthy thing he said was about the chemistry of this year’s team. “This [is] the best locker room I’ve seen.” he said. Mark Smith echoed similar thoughts. “Everyone holds each other accountable… you can tell just how competitive practices have been.”