Before last night, this was a bad basketball season. For a lot of us, it was the worst Mizzou Basketball season we can remember. Last night, it got worse. No way around that. We are all well aware of the negatives at this point, and there are plenty of places to talk about them (including the comments on this very article, if you're so inclined). I'm going to take the opposite tack and try to focus on the positives, minor though they may be. On to the numbers.
I know my brother gon come back stronger than ever!!!— Tramaine Isabell (@oTrillMaine) February 11, 2015
pray for my Brotha ... got a lot of respect for frank martin ..— Keith Shamburger (@idfndazou14) February 11, 2015
Everybody pray for my brotha @Im_back_15— Namon Wright (@kharyw) February 11, 2015
We all know what happened to #15 in black and gold by this point. Wes Clark was one of the few bright spots this season, a guy who's made some boneheaded decisions but seems to have turned things around and taken some big steps toward maximizing his considerable upside. Despite leaving in the second half with a grisly arm injury, Wes finished the game tied for second in scoring. All we can say is, heal fast, heal well, Wes Clark. We're going to need you next year.
I'm solid bro nobody worry #FordTough— Wes Clark (@Im_back_15) February 11, 2015
5 for 10
When Wes went down, Mizzou needed scoring, and among the guys available to pick up the slack, the offensive production this season has been...less than spectacular. Even among these unimpressive options, D'Angelo Allen seemed like the least likely candidate to do some damage, even though he'd hit a 3 earlier in the game. He'd showed some impressive flashes of passing and defense early in the season, but lately, his offense had fallen apart in a rather spectacular fashion with a series of highly visible missed layups (and, yes, it has to be said, he missed another layup).
Then, he grabbed a key defensive rebound. He hit another 3 pointer. He dished a dazzler of an assist on a dunk by Jakeenan Gant. And, with time running out and the team desperate to stay in the game, he hit his third of three shots from beyond the arc. It wasn't enough to win the game. But Allen needed some confidence on offense, and he finally got to build some.
This team has been miserable from beyond the arc for a lot of this 10 game skid. Not so against South Carolina. They shot 50% from 3 point range, and did so without most of their best shooters. I probably don't have to point out that, if this team had shot anywhere close to 50% from 3 point range in the last 10 games, we'd have won a lot more of them.
That's the number of fouls committed by both teams combined tonight. In a game involving Frank Martin. Let me run that by you again. In a game featuring a Frank Martin basketball team, only 31 fouls were committed. That's amazing. I'm not sure what else to say on this one.
That's the number of scholarship players that were left down the stretch of this game, and yet this team managed to fight hard enough to be in it until the absolute last moments drained out of Colonial Life Arena. We're all tired of moral victories at this point, but this already shorthanded team lost its leader and maybe its best player in the worst fashion imaginable, and they rallied. Until a *cough* questionable no-call at the end of the game, this team fought back from a 10 point deficit and made a game of it. I don't know if we can win any more games this year without Wes Clark. But I feel a lot better about our chances after watching our guys fight through the end of this game.
Ernest Hemingway once wrote that the world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.
In 2012, Bill C. talked a great deal about how the offensive line's cornucopia of injuries meant that a lot of guys got a lot of experience. Things are different with the shorter bench in college basketball, but this brutal, awful year presents an opportunity. This team, this coach, and these players have faced the worst college basketball has to offer. If they can learn from this awful, brutal year, spend a year getting stronger and learning to harness their considerable talents, they have the opportunity to be a damn good basketball team. I just hope they stick together long enough to try and capitalize.