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How did Mizzou use the COVID-19 pause to prepare themselves for the Alabama upset?

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Mizzou uses COVID pause to their advantage leading up to Alabama

I have to be honest, it’s still a bit of a shock that Cuonzo Martin and Mizzou pulled off that win on Saturday, right? I get that a 1 in 10 chance isn’t technically impossible, but those 9 of 10 probabilities all felt so expected. The fact that Missouri actually pulled the upset off — without two of their top guards, no less! — is a testament to the fight still left in this team and the ways they can exploit a team who lets them work the way they want.

Speaking to the media about the win over the weekend, Martin revealed what he thinks played a major role — a refocus on competition and conditioning in practice. Believe it or not, that comes mostly due to the COVID pause that hit the program in the past two weeks since the players couldn’t practice together most of the time.

Martin worked his players out twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. There was a lot more conditioning and skill work than usual, members of the team said. But most importantly, there was a lot more accountability.

“There was a lot of going at each other,” Coleman said. “Just trying to challenge each other in every drill we do to make each other better. And then it’s more of a focus as well. Just try to be more accountable of our actions. If you mess up or something happens, you gonna have to do something for it.”

Oh cool, cool. So more intense practices. Well that’s good, I guess! It sort of brings me back to my days of high school basketball where you’d run sprints after practice based on how many/which mistakes you made during drills and scrimmages. But surely that stuff doesn’t still happen in Mizzou’s Division I program, right?

“A lot of competing, a lot of consequences if you lose,” Coleman said of the practices. “Just everybody trying their hardest not to run. ... A lot of accountability. Basically, you were trying to practice perfectly so you wouldn’t have to run. Obviously, you can’t do that. So just trying to eliminate your mistakes and it helps you out with habits and being on your stuff during the game.”

Oh, OK then! Whatever works!

The intense practices weren’t the only thing that helped them pick off Alabama. With Anton Brookshire and Amari Davis out due to COVID protocols, Mizzou needed some help in the back court from an unexpected source. Enter Kaleb Brown, who made Anthony Kristensen’s list of major takeaways from Mizzou’s win.

Coach Cuonzo Martin was quick to praise the freshman after the game, taking up part of his opening statement to call his performance to mind despite the non-flashy stats.

Kaleb Brown had been a question mark over the course of the season. Some had been calling for him to see more action, while others weren’t sure he was ready for that. If his performance against one of the better backcourts in the country is anything to go off, he has certainly earned more of a chance.

You can relive some of the game’s best moments in this quick BTS video from the official account.


Yesterday at Rock M


More Links:

  • Closing out on a non-sports note: Mizzou is embracing one of its most famous alumni in a big way, naming its School of Music hall after Sheryl Crow.
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