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It’s Border War day in the WNIT!

Mizzou Links for March 20, 2023.

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Should I cue the music?

That’s right, folks. It’s Border War day.

For the first time since February 2012, Mizzou and Kansas’ women’s basketball programs will meet. After winning their respective first-round games, the two will square off in the second round of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament.

The opposition is led by 2021-22 Big 12 Coach of the Year Brandon Schneider who is in his eighth season on the sideline. Since his arrival, he has led the Jayhawks to a 102-136 record with two 20+ winning seasons. Schneider guided his squad to the second round of the NCAA tournament a year ago before falling to Stanford.

On the court, Kansas is paced by Zakiyah Franklin and Taiyanna Jackson who each average over 15 points a game. The pairing was named to the All-Big 12 First Team earlier this month. Jackson also earned a nod on the conference’s All-Defensive Team.

Utilizing a staunch defensive first approach, the Jayhawks rank first in their conference and 49th nationally as they limit their opponents to a 37.4 percent conversion rate from the field.

To say it’s a big game would be obvious. But for the Tigers, who are still tasting the sting of disappointment after their strong start to the season, a Border War win in the postseason would help ease some of the pain and perhaps even conjure some belief headed into the postseason. It’s also Robin Pingeton’s first opportunity to take on the Jayhawks, a tradition that every Mizzou coach should be treated to!

In sadder matters: Over to the concluded men’s season...

The mourning period continues for the 2022-2023 Mizzou Tigers, who watched another chaotic day of March Madness pass in the 24 hours following their second round loss. Everyone is processing and grieving in different ways, but one of the key takeaways seems to be the collective impact of the four departing players.

Ultimately, their legacy hinges on the program’s ability to sustain the momentum the team captured this season. A decade ago, a core of veteran players under first-year coach Frank Haith won 30 games, but the program couldn’t regenerate that kind of success under his next two rosters.

If Gates flourishes from here — his new $4 million salary and whopper of a buyout all but assures he’ll stick around — their influence will far surpass a second-round dud in Sacramento.

“The legacy of this team is our connectivity, our brotherhood, our togetherness, the unwavering bond that we have,” forward Noah Carter said Saturday. “You’ll never be able to break this brotherhood. I think … down the line, 30 years from now, we’re still gonna be brothers.”

Dennis Gates agrees that the four departing seniors are cornerstones of what he’s building in Columbia.

Those four players will be remembered as the Dennis Gates era continues from year one into however long his tenure lasts. Gates knows this.

“What they’ve been able to do together is 20 years from now we’ll look back, 10 years now from we’ll look back, five years from now we’ll look back and see how important it was what they’ve done,” Gates said.

As for the game, maybe it just comes down to the Madness of March. Or as Chris Kwiecinski frames it, someone dreaming just a bit bigger.

Princeton needed to play like a Sweet Sixteen team to advance to the Sweet Sixteen, and Princeton did. Those Tigers made shots at a high level.

I know MU wanted it. Which programs can say they’re a Sweet Sixteen team in year one with a new head coach? It was almost Missouri, and it’s okay that it wasn’t good enough today.

After all, Missouri proved so much more in the last 360 days. Gates’ dreams don’t stop with a loss to Princeton by any means. If anything, this season should tell you that it’s okay to dream just like that. This MU team did and changed the perception of what’s possible now and in the future under Gates.

Eventually, Missouri will have a dream that’s too big for anyone to end.

Yesterday at Rock M

More Links:

  • I know baseball is on the wider world’s mind right now, with the U.S. set to face Japan or Mexico in the World Baseball Classic final. It’s also on our mind, but for different reasons.

Reasons such as the fact that Mizzou just polished off a tidy sweep of the country’s No. 2 team in the Tennessee Volunteers.

Missouri baseball completed a perfect opening weekend of Southeastern Conference play by claiming both ends of its Sunday afternoon doubleheader with Tennessee, finishing off a three-game series sweep of the nationally-ranked Volunteers with wins of 7-4 and 7-1 at Taylor Stadium.

A crowd of 2,764—the Tigers’ largest announced home attendance since May 2019—witnessed Mizzou score three first-inning runs en route to building a 7-1 lead in game one, before Zach Franklin (4-0) finished off the victory with 5.0 strong innings of relief.

In the three games, including the 9-1 victory on Friday, Mizzou outscored Tennessee 23-6, moving to 16-3 in total on the season. And while the offense has been strong most of the year, the pitching depth this weekend really showed out in a big way. They’re kicking ass at the moment.

Let’s hope it continues. The Tigers will continue their season by going on a nine-game road trip, starting at Kauffman Stadium this Wednesday against, who else, Kansas.