It was bound to happen, right?
Missouri’s basketball program is the latest to have to halt their season, following Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, and South Carolina in the SEC already, with the Gamecocks already pausing twice. Things are a mess. Nearly 370,000 people have died already, and we’re losing between 3,000 and 4,000 people per day recently. Cases are out of control, hospitals are struggling to keep up, the vaccines are here but are slow to roll out.
And through it all, we’ve been playing basketball.
For Missouri, it’s been a mostly successful venture. There’ve been bumps recently, but overall it’s hard to argue with a 7-2 start with four Quad 1 wins. But we’ve all dreaded this part. The potential for a season interruption.
Basketball is largely a sport built on momentum. One minute you have it, the next minute it wanes and then it’s seized by your opponent. And now whatever momentum Missouri has seized- good or bad -is on pause. The questions we have now are, 1) for how long is the pause... 2) who is most affected if there is a positive test... and 3) How will Missouri come out of this?
The Tigers started the season far hotter than they’ve shown over the last few games. Both Mark Smith and Dru Smith have only combined to score 15.5 points per game over the last four after averaging a combined 29.4 over the first five games. The offense has lagged without backup options to Xavier Pinson and Jeremiah Tilmon, and the supporting cast hasn’t fully stepped in to provide the necessary backup. As COVID turns, when Missouri returns to action, which version of the Tigers are we going to see?
The team who dominated the 5th rated Illinois in stretches, the team who turned top 20 rated Oregon out, the team who dominated Mississippi State in the first half? Or will we see more of the team who got run off the floor by Tennessee, struggled to score against Bradley, or got blown out in the second half against the same Mississippi State team they’d just whipped in half one?
The pause is unfortunate from a standpoint that we don’t get a game to watch.
But what if there’s more that can be accomplished? Mizzou is a team who doesn't need the continuity of a season to perform well. They’ve had two or three years of playing together to work out kinks that an interruption in continuity shouldn’t hold them back much, if at all. If anything, it may help the Tigers to sort things right.
Get Dru Smith and his right hand healthy, get whatever is impacting Mark Smith’s ability to score the ball sorted out. And get back on the floor.
I’m not going to say whether or not the pause is a good thing. I think interrupting the flow of the season is a difficult thing to accomplish. And Missouri doesn’t have the luxury of jumping back in against Florida A&M or Mississippi Valley State; rather they’ll have to jump back into the thick of an SEC race.
Today, instead of getting to watch Mizzou play, you get:
- 11am: Alabama at Auburn
- 12pm: Mississippi State at Vanderbilt
- 1pm: Tennessee at Texas A&M
- 2:30pm: Georgia at Arkansas
- 4pm: Kentucky at Florida
- 7:30pm: LSU at Ole Miss
At least LSU found a game... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯