Thank god for college basketball.
I’ve always sort of hated the first few weeks of a new year. There’s this horrible holiday hangover where you’re not quite used to being in the full swing of work and family life again, everything is cold and awful and there’s nothing as good as Christmas and New Year’s to look forward to. It’s just the long march toward spring, saved mercifully by college hoops.
Unless, of course, you’ve been a Mizzou fan for the past decade.
Isn’t it nice, then, that things don’t seem so bleak nowadays! Mizzou begins SEC play on Wednesday at a sterling 11-1 after putting Illinois in the dumpster, a record that is a little more significant than it may seem. Should Dennis Gates win 6 games in SEC play — that’s a conference record 6-12 if you’re keeping track, which would’ve been good for 12th last season — he’ll have won more games in his first season at Mizzou than six of the previous ten seasons, including all three of Kim Anderson’s years and three of Cuonzo Martins. That’s coming from a makeshift roster that isn’t even featuring its best player on most evenings.
It may seem obvious at this point, but Dennis Gates’ running and gunning Tigers are a fun team to write about. I can’t imagine doing The Revue for any of Cuonzo Martin’s teams (editor’s note: ouch). What would I have compared them to, long, trudging war dramas? Gates teams, by contrast, are still buttoned up but loose and fast and energetic. They play as a team and feature a number of likable individual characters. They’ve got a few impressive wins away from Columbia and a Braggin’ Rights trophy under their belt. That’s more than you can say for most teams that have played at Mizzou in the past decade anyway.
I’m glad I’ll be watching them as the cold winter months gust by.
In what may seem like sacrilege to people of my age bracket, Home Alone has no deeper meaning for me other than being a mediocre Christmas movie. Other than John Williams and Catherine O’Hara (my queen), it may as well be Hallmark.
I can’t tell you why exactly it didn’t land with me like it did so many of my peers. Maybe my parents didn’t care for Kevin calling Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern “horses asses” and therefore gently discouraged me from making it part of my holiday experience. Maybe they just thought it was mid like me and said, “Let’s show him Muppets’ Christmas Carol, that’s a real classic.”
I can tell you, however, that I watched Home Alone the very same night that Mizzou pounded Illinois into oblivion and I was delighted by the similarities.
Kevin McCallister, if you haven’t seen the film in a while, is a boy we’re led to believe is not just sweet, but somewhat timid in the face of the world around him. That’s what makes being home alone so scary. But don’t be fooled. We only need to watch another hour to learn that Kevin has been sitting on the blueprints of a jerry-rigged torture dungeon so elaborate it would make McGyver blush. You’re telling me that this kid just figured out all those ways to booby-trap his house in just a night? Give me a break. That kid has been planning this. He should be institutionalized. Maybe studied like Hannibal Lecter, another of cinema’s great villains.
I can’t deny, however, the pure rush of comedy that comes from seeing Pesci and Stern get owned and owned and owned again, especially when the movie becomes a living embodiment of the “stop, he’s already dead” meme.
Similarly, I found it just as (or, let’s be honest, more) pleasurable watching Mizzou land haymaker after haymaker on the hapless Illini on December 22. Each successive indecency committed against Illinois — the countless drained threes, the and-ones, the uncontested dunks — hit so good every single time. I sort of lost track of the score (it was that one-sided) and was more enjoying the comedy of watching bad guys get pancaked than I was watching the good guys get away with murder.
I would highly recommend that, like Home Alone is for many people, that Mizzou make this an annual holiday tradition. That is, shooting the Illini in the face with a BB gun, torching their heads with a flame thrower and dropping them from a hanging wire. Absolute vibes.
★★★★★ for that masterpiece of a game, ★★★☆☆ for Home Alone, which is a psychotic movie and y’all should be immediately cancelled for idolizing psychopaths like Kevin McCallister
You know what’s good as hell? Beating Illinois.
You know what’s better as hell? Beating the socks off Illinois.
You know what’s best as hell? Beating the socks off Illinois and watching Brad Underwood berate them as it happens.
It’s five out of five screaming Brad Underwood’s for me.
Disrespectful Dunk Index
We’re really starting to stretch ourselves thin at the Disrespectful Dunk Index factory.
Look, I get it. Not every player can be a demon at the rim. The world needs Chris Paul just as much as it needs Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan. But (maybe by design) Mizzou seems to be devoid of rim rockers this season, with the lone exception of Aidan Shaw. To that point, however, Shaw doesn’t seem to have the physical fortitude to end careers quite yet. He’s a prolific alley-ooper, sure, but we may have to wait a year or two before he truly buries someone in the dust. We’re working off of lower-level dunks with this Mizzou team. And if any of you are a current Mizzou basketball player, please prove me wrong. I’ll give you flowers upon flowers in this space when it happens.
Despite the lack of forceful dunks, however, there were a few jams that I’d consider noteworthy against the Illini. And with great respect to Kobe Brown, who spent all evening bullying his defender with shocking ease, Mr. Tre Gomillion is going to be my pick here as my immediate reaction to him dunking was equal parts, “Tre Gomillion can dunk?” and “Oh my god, they let Tre Gomillion dunk.”
Oh, and I should clarify, we’re going with his second dunk. Yeah, Tre Gomillion dunked on Illinois twice.
- Category 1: How difficult/impressive was the dunk?
The dunk, much like his breakaway a few moments prior, wasn’t all that difficult in a vacuum. Unlike his previous dunk, however, Gomillion had to do some work to set himself up. The pass from Brown — again, who assisted him previously — comes off a perfect fake screen that confuses the Illini defenders and allows Tre to slip unimpeded into the paint for a quick grab-and-go. It’s a nifty bit of stop and go footwork from the guard, who probably didn’t seem all that imposing in the paint. So while we can’t gift points for dunks that are pretty simple in execution, we can honor Gomillion’s ability to throw his man like a rag doll.
- Category 2: What did the dunker do immediately afterward?
Gomillion isn’t the flashiest guy, despite what his kick-ass last name might have you believe. I’d really like to see him start workshopping some money-centric celebrations. Maybe he can slide his hands around like he’s splashing cash? Maybe he can swipe his hand through the other like a credit card? I don’t know man, your name is too good to do nothing.
That being said, I’m really getting a kick out of the above image: Gomillion perfectly penciled in the air like an Olympic diver about the hit the water. I’m going to give him some bonus points for that posture.
- Category 3: How hard did the defender try to stop it?
Apologies to Gomillion, who I just credited with slipping his defender. But what’s going on here? I get that Gomillion pulled a crafty move here, but that man bit harder than the first kill in Jaws. My man took an extra two steps to his left before realizing he’d been had. I can only imagine he was thinking about the verbal abuse he was going to receive from his coach on the drive back to Champaign, because even I was never fooled this bad on a fake and I royally sucked. He did his best to recover, but one can only recover so much from a fatal self-own.
- Category 4: Is there a backstory between the dunker and the dunkee?
None that I can think of or parse through research. That being said, it’s incredibly gratifying to watch Gomillion continue to produce at such a high level. Amongst all of Dennis Gates’ mid-major takes, there was probably the most skepticism around Gomillion considering he was always going to be more of a culture guy. Credit to him, though. He’s contributing in small, important ways. Scoring 8 in your first Braggin’ Rights game on 80 percent shooting isn’t nothing!
- Category 5: Did the ball go straight through the rim or did it rattle around a little?
Straight through, baby. So pure.
- Category 6: How did everyone not immediately involved react?
I’m surprised Ben Sternberg is still with us considering he almost stroked out both times Gomillion threw down. If you go back and watch the first dunk Tre put down, Sternberg looks like a rocket ship blasting off from the hardwood before he waltzes onto the court beating his chest like Alexander Skarsgård in The Northman. Bennie is starting to become a reliable source of excellent cellys.
Tre Gomillion’s (second) dunk was 59 percent disrespectful to the Illini and their fans.
Superlatives and Awards
Maddest Offline: Brad Underwood wins for an unprecedented sixth straight year! What an achievement!
Something’s not clicking for the Illini right now. After a 22-point loss to Missouri, Brad Underwood talks what he’s not seeing:— Andy Olson (@WCIA3Andy) December 23, 2022
“It’s ultimately on me. Tonight it went beyond that. This group doesn’t have my footprint yet… toughness.” pic.twitter.com/5ee2OSO3T0
Most Underrated: Don’t look now, but DeAndre Gholston chipped in 15 points off the bench while shooting 6-9 from the floor. Might he be cementing his spot on the wing? Two solid games in a row for the Milwaukee transfer? Yes, please.
Least Amount of Braggin’ Rights: Suck it, Illini.