No fancy intro. My words are spent. Take it away, Tobias.
Would you begrudge me some cheating on this, the final Revue of the 2022-2023 basketball season?
There are, in fact, too many movies that could sum up Mizzou’s brief stay in the NCAA Tournament, movies that start with a bang only to crumple in a heap on the way to the finish line. The thing about those movies is that they’re bad, and I don’t care for them. And while I certainly don’t care for the way things ended in Sacramento, I don’t want that to detract from the journey we took. So instead of going to the movies, we’re going to stay at home. The Home Box Office, that is. Because we’re talking about Watchmen.
No, not the pissy, sophomoric tripe that Zack Snyder made in 2009. The classy, intelligent masterstroke HBO project of Damon Lindelof’s 10 years later.
For someone who is admittedly not much of a TV person, Watchmen is one of the few examples in the past decade of a show that really gripped me from start to finish. Well, nearly the finish. I was with it every turn of the way, through multiple convoluted antagonist plots and historical dalliances. Even in the moments when I wasn’t sure what was going on, I trusted that Lindelof had my back. That is, until the final episode.
Look, I don’t mind the way that Watchmen ended. The writers of that show clearly weren’t as interested in narrative resolution as they were the journey to said resolution. But this isn’t Twin Peaks; we do need a few bows to be tied up. They had to resolve the villain plots and Dr. Manhattan’s story and all that.
But it felt like a departure from all the things I loved about the show: the complex morality of vigilante justice, especially when layered with the role of the criminal justice system; the weight of historical racism playing out directly and indirectly, sometimes in the same plot point; the scope of imagination in the more liberal interpretations of the source material. That the narrative threads had to come together was a necessity, but one I wish I could’ve done without.
Mizzou’s narrative threads needed to come together, too. At some point, they needed to be punished for tepid defending. For abandoning the rebound as a strategy altogether. For living and dying by the averages of the three-point line. I get that the end was coming for them, whether we wanted it to or not. We’d seen it foretold in smaller ways throughout the season, but never as comprehensively as against Princeton.
It doesn’t diminish the journey or the things I genuinely loved about the season. Apart from it being fun to watch good, fast-paced basketball (who could’ve known, right?), the season felt monumental in all sorts of small ways. Fan interest skyrocketed so quickly. The connection between supporters and program was knit together with ease, like the connection was waiting to be made. The team played hard and smart and, most endearingly, for each other.
Do I wish it could’ve ended differently? Sure. But I know it was required based on the laws we’d drawn up with this team. I’m anticipating more things to love about next year’s team. And maybe some day they’ll find a way to stick the landing.
★★★★★ for the season which unequivocally kicked figurative ass, ★★★★★ for Watchmen, which also unequivocally kicked literal figurative ass
It’s only fair that in the final watchability meter of the season, Mizzou showed its absolute best and absolute worst. Literally!
Remember BartTorvik’s GameScore metric? It’s used to determine, roughly, how well a team played. The higher the score the better you played. Here is Mizzou’s record by GameScore this season:
90+: 10-1 (Coastal Car, Houston Chr, Illini, UK, @Ark, @Ole Miss, Iowa State, @UT, @UGa, UT, Utah St)...
10-19: 0-2 (KU, Princeton)
March Madness tends to amplify the cracks in each team’s armor, and for as much fun as Mizzou was this season, they had plenty of cracks that they couldn’t always paper over. It was troublesome (and maddening) enough when the shots wouldn’t fall, the turnovers wouldn’t come and the pace wouldn’t pick up. When none of those things are happening, it was a disaster.
However, I’m going to choose to remember Mizzou when they were at their best... and boy were they just about at their best against Utah State. Turning the Aggies over 15 times? Shooting 40 percent from three? Logging 15 assists across the box score? It was a vintage 2022-2023 performance for this team, the type that made us fall in love with them.
The loss to Princeton, due to Mizzou’s now unfortunate reputation with 15-seeds, will likely linger just as much or longer than their victory over Utah State. However, the latter was much more indicative of how the Tigers impressed their will on opponents all year long. Sure, it wasn’t fun at times. But it was fun more often than not. That’s what I’ll remember; a team that was almost always watchable and, when they weren’t, always lovable.
For a scrappy, fun season of basketball, Mizzou wins five out of five copies of The Killer’s masterpiece debut Hot Fuss on crystal clear compact disc.
Disrespectful Dunk Index
It only makes sense that the final honored dunker of the year is one Kobe Brown.
If this is the last time we get to honor Mr. Brown on The Revue, I think it’s a fitting way to go out. Brown has never been a prolific dunker of basketballs during his time in Columbia, but he’s had his moments. As his all-around game has flourished, the interior has opened up, allowing him to express his athleticism and strength more often than previous years, when teams would shore up the lane against him. But it also helped that Gates surrounded Brown with shooters and dangerous athletes, leaving the lane more open for Brown to create.
Brown’s pivotal dunk against Utah State, one that came during a stretch where the Tigers and Aggies were trading blows, would buoy the Tigers against Utah State’s surge. Just one possession later, Brown would hit a three that gave Missouri a 52-51 lead, one they wouldn’t give up for the rest of the game.
It would’ve been funnier for this to be the dagger moment, but eh, it’s close enough.
- Category 1: How difficult/impressive was the dunk? (0-20)
I don’t know that the basket itself was all that difficult. After all, Akin leaves Brown, a prolific bully ball driver, plenty of room on the baseline to work with his preferred hand. And while I’m sure Akin is a talented on-ball defender, very few have been good enough to contain Brown in his First Team All SEC season.
Once Kobe gets the first step, it’s over. Two points are happening one way or the other.
What I do find very impressive about this dunk, however, is how quickly Brown spots the defense’s vulnerability on the weak side of the rim. No one is dropping to help, so Brown attacks the interior in an area where’s least likely to encounter resistance. And while a reverse layup would’ve been just as easy, Brown decides to polish this bucket off with a little bit of flair.
The leap starts directly underneath the basket, and Brown allows his momentum to carry him mid-air to the point of conversion. It’s a clever bit of play that earns some style points for Brown’s quick thinking and bravura in one of the game’s key moments.
- Category 2: What did the dunker do immediately afterward? (0-20)
Ah, the final indignity of this particular team... guys who never celebrate their dunks and instead get back on defense... even though the defense sucked. Shame.
- Category 3: How hard did the defender try to stop it? (0-20)
Credit where credit is due, man. Akin was in Brown’s way when Brown was in the kitchen. Akin found out what happens to defenders the hard way. He should’ve consulted the graph.
So even though Akin’s efforts appeared to be sterling, he wasn’t stopping Brown when he left the baseline open. Points added to his overall effort because his teammates wanted none of that smoke.
- Category 4: Is there backstory between the dunker and the dunkee? (0-15)
Before the NCAA Tournament? None to speak of. Unless Kobe Brown played against Dan Akin in Great Britain during a time of which I’m unaware.
However, if you recall the specific moments in which this passage of play took place, you’ll remember that Akin and Brown were going blow-for-blow. Akin threw down, Kobe threw down, Akin laid one in, Kobe canned a three. It was exceptional back and forth play from two exciting players on the sport’s biggest stage. That Brown had the best moment is indicative of his quality as a player.
- Category 5: Did the ball go straight through the rim or did it rattle around a little? (0-5)
- Category 6: How did everyone not immediately involved react? (0-20)
I’m really going to miss this year’s bench mob, if only because most of the time we got a heaping helping of Ben Sternberg and Tre Gomillion when the latter was injured. No, I’m not forgetting Jackson Francois, but he’ll be back by all accounts. Much has been made of Gomillion’s future coaching chops, which came out most evidently in the latter parts of the season when he was confined to the pine. But Gomillion, apart from being an extension of Gates on the court, is a wonderful hype guy in his own right. The combination of his fire and Sternbergs antics make for a beautiful combo, peppered by Francois’ over-the-top goofiness.
Their collective reaction to this dunk — captured in the above image as the ball flushes through the net — is a wonderful distillation of their shared energy. Gomillion has the slight fist pump with a passionate facial expression and poised posture. Sternberg appears to be lifted off his seat and the ground with the sheer power of his glee. Francois appears to be reacting like my three-year-old when I surprise him with a new toy at the museum gift shop. It’s a perfect three-part harmony of poised excitement, unreserved brashness and unbelieving glee. I’ll miss that symphony of joy.
Kobe Brown’s dunk was 80 percent disrespectful to the Utah State Aggies, Dan Akin, and the city of Provo.
Superlatives and Awards
Best Meme: I’m sad I adopted this award only recently. I’ll miss getting to scroll through all of the psychotic posts of terribly online Mizzou fans!
There were plenty of good entries in this final round, but I did really love this unholy amalgamation of Lars Nootbar’s international fame, Laser Eyes Dennis Gates and The Cardigans’ “Lovefool.”
March 16, 2023
Y’all better bring this energy next year.
The “Kim English Award” for next Tiger we’ll see on the sidelines:
Huh, well this just makes too much sense!
Tre Gomillion is my favorite Mizzou Tiger of all time. Humility, Toughness and Team personified. Hodge is special as well. Exceptional season for the Tigers.— Kim English (@Englishscope24) March 19, 2023
Who do you think Kim English’s second favorite Mizzou Tiger of all time is? Frank Haith?
The “It’s Not Your Fault” Award for most tear-jerking moment:
Not Tre Gomillion directing questions to Ben Sternberg, Benny Buckets talking about how the seniors want to be remembered as “stepping stones” for Coach Gates and D’Moi Hodge talking about the love between this group and Mizzou fans. It’s too much, man.
Even in a loss, #Mizzou gets a special moment here when Tre Gomillion refers the last question to senior Ben Sternberg, the hype man of the team.— PJ Green (@PJGreenTV) March 19, 2023
Sternberg is part of the pack that followed HC Dennis Gates from Cleveland State to Columbia and he and D'Moi Hodge explain how the… pic.twitter.com/9fL8x5rRzX
What a special group.