I can’t stop writing about Mizzou Softball, and the national media is getting in on it, too.
Jacqueline LeBlanc of Sports Illustrated profiled Missouri’s softball team and how they found success again with their focus on culture. Y’all, this article is OUTSTANDING and comprehensive. It is truly fantastic. I won’t share it all because you should read it immediately, but here’s some of my favorite parts:
LeBlanc wrote about what ended up bringing Larissa Anderson to Mizzou (an interesting star-crossed story involving Mizzou effectively ending Hoffstra’s season), and how she worked to change the Tigers’ culture immediately upon her arrival. Anderson’s new motto: Own it. What does that mean?
Every member of the team accepts responsibility for their own mistakes, and every member of the team, together, accepts responsibility for the team’s successes and failures.
This reminds me of one of my favorite teamwork quotes, actually. When I was coaching for Rock Bridge, right before our eventual state championship —no big deal— I posted this quote from USA Soccer’s Mia Hamm as a reminder going into the meet, “I am a member of a team, and I rely on the team, I defer to it and sacrifice for it, because the team, not the individual, is the ultimate champion.”
Clearly, the players have bought in to this team concept; you can see it when you watch them play. It is a JOY. But it wasn’t always easy, the article described. And when the postseason ban came down because of the cheating scandal — which involved a player no longer with the team and a coach who was no longer employed by MU— they all could have left. But no one did. NOT A SINGLE ONE. Some players, like Cayla Kessinger, had been through three coaches at Mizzou in a 6 month timeframe— EE, replacement Gina Fogue, and then Coach Anderson. What kept her here? From the article:
Now during Anderson’s third year, Kessinger sees the impact that having a culture of support, discipline and purpose has done for the team. The players know how to work toward a common goal, and everyone knows exactly what they are trying to accomplish together.
“We’re genuinely playing for each other—success, failure, you name it,” Kessinger said. “At the end of the day, we have each other’s backs, and I think that you really can’t ask for anything more on a team.”
And now we know for certain, the fans have bought in as well. Mizzou’s ticket allotment for Regionals was sold out in under two hours. Tickets went on sale to the public at 9am after TSF and season ticket holders got first dibs, and just like that, they were gone.
I’ll leave you with one more quote before we get to the links. “We’re always picked to lose. Always. And it’s like, you know what, let them think that,” Kessinger said. “If they don’t want to pay attention, fine. We’re going to make a name for ourselves.”
I LOVE THIS TEAM!
On to the Links!
Yesterday at Rock M
- It’s game preview time already, and Nate the Great is back, previewing the second opponent of the 2021 season, those pesky Kentucky Wildcats.
- IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: I wrote about Mizzou Softball’s return to the NCAA Tournament and who’s on their side of the bracket.
- COMING UP: Matthew J Harris will go way in-depth on Ronnie DeGray III in the next few days, and the Texas and Missouri QB winners will be revealed.
- We missed sharing this when it came out this weekend, but Friend of Dive Cuts, The Athletic’s CJ Moore, provided subscribers with a dozen thoughts on each of Mizzou’s players as Cuonzo Martin moves to a small-ball style of play. As with everything CJ writes, you’ll want to check this out.
- Easing up of Covid restrictions means… in-person visits by coaches to interact with fans and donors! Coach Drink, Coach Pingeton and Coach Martin joined Chris Gervino and the Golden Girls at Chicken N Pickle in KC, and had what looked like a great time.
Great night in KC! Appreciate everyone that was able to make it out! We love ya! . https://t.co/kIR3tLOrMz— Robin Pingeton (@CoachPingeton) May 19, 2021
- The KC Star’s Blair Kerkhoff made a point to stop by the Tiger Takeover event in North Kansas City, and touched base on what each coach had to say.
- Congrats, Larry!
Other Mizzou Sports
- Coach Anderson was on the KTRS Big Sports Show on Tuesday evening, being awesome as usual… Check it out.
- So you can beat the No. 3 team in the country, but you can’t beat that team out west in two attempts this season? Weird season for Bieser Ball, to be sure.
- Calum McAndrew of the Missourian wrote about golfer Ross Steelman’s second-round 70 score, which put him five strokes back of the NCAA Regional lead.
Mizzou in the NBA/WNBA
- It’s Playoffs Time, and Mizzou Hoops twitter is getting in on the action.
- RP Salao of ClutchPoints examined the unbelievable statistic that the Jazz, who own the best record in the NBA, and also made double digit threes in EVERY SINGLE GAME. Who led the team in threes? That would be Jordan Clarkson with 208, 25 treys ahead of the next highest mark. While Donovan Mitchell — currently injured — leads the team with 3.4 made threes a night, JC came in second with 3.1, but with the least minutes of the Jazz’s top five deep ball threats. Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch also wrote about JC, his connection with Quin Snyder, and how awesome he’s been this season. From the article:
No matter how the playoffs unfold for the Jazz, Clarkson has put together his finest NBA season as Snyder’s super sub — and one of the most prolific NBA scoring seasons for a former Mizzou player. He’s posted career-high averages for scoring (18.4 points per game), field goal attempts per game (15.8), free throw shooting (89.6%) and usage rate (29.7). He logged the highest PER (player efficiency rating) of his career (17.1) and the lowest turnover rate (9.2).
Of note, only two Mizzou players in the NBA have averaged as many points as Clarkson does… Larry Drew in the early 80s and another familiar name… Michael Porter, Jr, who averages 19.2 PPG. READ THIS STORY. IT’S GREAT.
- Jontay Porter will hopefully see the floor in the West Play-in Game this evening, as the Grizzlies face the Spurs at 6:30 on ESPN.
- Eric Spyropoulos of NBA.com looked Michael Porter Jr’s dramatic increase in production, which should put him in heavy consideration for the NBA’s Most Improved Player, while SB Nation site, the Denver Stiffs, looked at his shot profile, which has evolved in his second season.
- Sophie Cunningham may not have played in PHX’s loss to Connecticut on Sunday, she came off the bench and was ACTIVE on both ends of the floor in the Mercury’s win over the Mystics on Tuesday evening. Her final stats? In 18 minutes, she had 12 points on 4-6 shooting from the field (1-3 from three) with 4 rebounds and 2 assists.
Mercury Twitter even got in on the action, showing off one of my favorite Soph gifs, and the announcers shouted out Missouri when talking about her hard-nosed play. You love to see/hear it, y’all.
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