While many teams have had to stop play due to COVID and have talked of the negative effects on their team, the Missouri Tigers are taking an entirely different approach.
During his first opportunity to speak with the media following a positive test inside the Tigers basketball program, Cuonzo Martin described the quarantine period as a blessing in disguise. “Having a week off is not a bad thing in my opinion... For us, I think it was a good thing.”
Xavier Pinson didn’t seem worried either. “Conditioning-wise, I feel good… I kind of see this as a positive, I don’t see this as a negative.” Martin echoed the idea that conditioning would not be a problem. “We had our first practice yesterday... I thought the guys came back in relatively good shape.” He credited the players for running extra alone when the team could not practice together during the last week.
For the Tigers, apart from overcoming COVID, the biggest question mark is how will they respond after their second-half performance against Mississippi State.
Xavier Pinson and Jeremiah Tilmon both pointed to the energy level the team lost after halftime. “The first half I would say was phenomenal. Everybody was everywhere… we just have to have the same energy coming out in the second half,” said Pinson. “We just played with a lot of high energy in the first half, and in the second half, we didn’t come out with the same chip on our shoulder,” added Tilmon.
The Tigers will get their chance to bounce back this Saturday against Texas A&M, but Martin knows it won’t be easy. “I think they’re a gritty team, a team that will grind you out on both sides of the floor… you have to stay aggressive,” Martin said.
For the Tigers to return to form against A&M, Jeremiah Tilmon will have to pick up right where he left off, dominating the paint. Tilmon didn’t seemed concerned about how the week off would affect him and echoed the idea of his teammate and coach that this week was actually good for the team. According to Jeremiah, the key is, “Just playing hard and letting the game come to me.”