With Missouri releasing their season non-conference schedule, we’re taking a brief look at each of their opponents. You can catch up with the previous posts in the series here:
As we’ve noted in previous pieces, Missouri has started scheduling a level up since Cuonzo Martin has taken over. The home slate is still what it is this season, but despite the lack of marquee names, the schedule itself is solid.
Part of that is plucking a team like the Wofford Terriers out of the Southern Conference after they were 30-5 last year and lost in the second round of the tournament to a good Kentucky team on an off shooting night by their best player. The tale of the 2018-19 Terriers is one of near-destiny, with Mike Young’s 17-year head coaching career in beautiful Spartanburg, South Carolina culminating with a seven seed and the school’s first NCAA tournament win. They were Southern Conference champions and went undefeated in conference play.
Young took over a program that was middling to say the least, and built them into the best team in a really underrated conference. Last season, many pundits were making the case for the conference to get as many as four teams into the NCAAs. We all knew that wasn’t going to happen, but had Wofford not won the conference tournament, they’d have almost assuredly gotten two in.
But last year was last year, and gone are Young and their top sniper Fletcher Magee, as well as underrated interior post man Cameron Jackson. Keve Aluma, a fast rising and athletic post, transferred to reconnect with Young at Virginia Tech. So while the Terriers bring back several key players, they will not look like the same team who bombed (as in 3-point shots, get it?) their way into the second round last year.
Last Season: 30-5, 18th in KenPom
Torvik Projection: 169th
Head Coach: Jay McAuley
McAuley takes over for Young after spending the last two years as his top assistant, with the Wofford brass banking that the continuity will help the program sustain any losses from the departure of a coach who has been there since 2002.
McAuley spent his college career at Georgia before taking to the sidelines. In 2008, he got his start on the bench at Wofford before taking jobs at Gardner-Webb and Furman, then heading back to Wofford in 2017. The program has been steady and keeping them towards the top of the league will be no small feat. But at least he’s got a solid foundation to begin with, including some guys who brought a lot to the table for the Terriers last season:
- Nathan Hoover: 13.6 ppg, 46.9% from 3-point range
- Storm Murphy: 8.0 ppg, 47.2% from 3-point range
- Tray Hollowell: 4.9 ppg, 108 ORtg in 28% of minutes played
- Chavez Goodwin: 4.3 ppg, 113 ORtg in 31% of minutes played
Most of you who watched Wofford down the stretch remember Fletcher Magee and his merry band of bombers. Nathan Hoover and Storm Murphy were a big part of the stretch run, with Hoover proving huge in keeping the Terriers always within striking distance against Kentucky. While Magee was struggling to get shots to fall, Hoover made four of five and Murphy made two of five.
Hollowell is an intriguing prospect as well, he was actually lightly recruited by the previous Missouri staff as a younger player and even made an unofficial visit to Mizzou. He’s an athletic combo guard who will likely split time with Murphy at the point guard spot, letting Hoover spend more time coming off screens. And Goodwin is a nice and athletic forward with a high ceiling, getting some more minutes may help him figure things out faster.
Wofford isn’t likely to have the season they had last year, but they’ve got every reason to think they can contend and win another SoCon title. I don’t expect them to be able to beat Missouri, but if the Tigers don’t defend the three-point line they could be in for a long night. Conversely, if the Terriers don’t make their outside shots, it could be over early.