The way the season ended was fitting in a lot of different ways. For one, the Mizzou season ended on the same afternoon we had to say goodbye to our dog Arturo. You can click on the link to follow the thread, but over a year ago we were told we were going to have to say goodbye as ‘Turo had suffered some severe kidney damage. But he fought, and we fought, and we were able to buy him another year through strict dieting and frequent vet visits. For a while things returned to normal. But the underlying issue was never going to go away. Recently things took a turn for the worse, with his bloodwork returning some really bad numbers and his appetite becoming a challenge. Last week we knew what was coming, as hard as it was. We made one last effort to get some fluids in his body, but it made no difference. So we brought him home, made him as comfortable as we could.
Arturo passed almost the same time as the clock expired on the Mizzou Basketball season. And fittingly enough the program’s season coming to a soft, merciful end, in the second round by a program led by their former point guard, and coached by a man recently served with a notice of allegations by the NCAA.
The game was much like the entire season, as a microcosm. It was awful and ugly to start, they made enough shots to make things interesting, but ultimately they didn’t have enough talent to make enough of a dent. And then made a few late shots when it no longer mattered.
In the end, Mizzou’s last inbounds play was a pass off the back of the backboard. Again, it was all very fitting.
Now, things shift. To a decision.
Whether or not a decision has been made, the question is real
No matter which side of this you come down on, you should at least be aware of why there is a decision to be made. It’s not as cut and dry as some might think. I covered some of that in my Pourover post from Sunday.
I think we all know this season went poorly, nobody knows that more than the head coach. Cuonzo Martin is a lot of things to a lot of people, but he’s a really thoughtful and understands how this works more than any of us do. The question is whether Desiree Reed-Francois believes Martin can fix it?
I know a lot of people don’t believe me when I say things like this, but Cuonzo is a good basketball coach. His problem has never been the in game coaching (which is very overrated), or pregame preparation. It’s been with roster building. There are always going to be in game quibbles here and there, but that’s the case with literally every coach who ever coached. But what makes Cuonzo different is he’s at OUR school. And he’s going to have to go into a meeting with his athletic director, probably today, and explain what went wrong this year and how he feels he can fix it.
I don’t foresee any circumstance where Martin comes back as the status quo. I do think he can come back with significant changes made to the program, but he’ll have to jettison some of the roster and likely some of his staff in order to convince people it can work.
But if he’s not willing to make significant changes, it’s all but certain DRF will vote to move on.
So then, What’s next?
Well, to be a frank, a coaching search.
If Martin returns, he’s got a lot of work to do. Here’s the current roster:
Javon Pickett could technically come back for a super senior year. Something tells me if Martin moves on there’s a zero chance that happens, and if Martin comes back there’s no guarantee. After last year, Martin encouraged his seniors to move on and watched Dru Smith, Mark Smith, Jeremiah Tilmon, Drew Buggs, and Mitchell Smith all leave the program with a year of eligibility available. Mark Smith and Drew Buggs transferred to other schools to play another year.
There’s currently one scholarship available and this team D-E-S-P-E-R-A-T-E-L-Y needs a point guard. But even with the one scholarship available I’d expect at least one or two other spots to open up, if not more. Martin will be tasked with filling in the very obvious holes to go along with the rebuilt roster from a season ago. Maybe the failures of the last reset were a learned lesson for the head coach.
Or maybe not?
If the Administration moves on from Cuonzo you have to consider every single player on this roster a transfer risk. Yes the good ones, and yes the bad ones. Whoever the coach is on the sideline next year, priority one should be making sure Trevon Brazile is wearing a Missouri uniform next season. After that, it’s finding a point guard, and hopefully finding a scorer who can shoot the ball from outside. If there’s a new coach, they might want to see about holding onto Aidan Shaw.
Next will be the 2023 recruiting class. We’ll have more time to get into that if/when we find out who is going to be the coach. But for now we’re just waiting to see what the decision will be.
Phase 2 of the Cuonzo Martin era was an abject failure. That doesn’t mean he can’t be successful, it’s just generally considered to be longer odds that he’ll be around long enough to find out.
Study Hall tomorrow.