Mizzou takes on Central Michigan in season opener

Missouri Tigers guard Amari Davis (1) shoots for three past a pair of Central Michigan Chippewas players during the first half of a NCAA Men's Basketball game at Mizzou Arena in Columbia on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021. Photo by Colter Peterson, cpeterson@post-dispatch.com

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Here are the highlights from our weekly chat with Post-Dispatch readers. 

Q: Dave, do you have a theory why these players shoot so badly? Even when they are open they just can't make 3 pointers. I know you have pointed to statistics where a lot of these players could shoot the 3 before they got here, so why such a problem here? 

A: They’re just not good shooters. Coleman had one good shooting season before coming to Mizzou, though it was a smaller sample size because he missed time last year with an injury. But Davis and Gordon were not good 3-point shooters pre-MU.

Coleman shot 42.5% last year ... he's at 30% this year, similar to his freshman year at Ball State when he shot 32.5%.

Davis didn't make any 3s as a freshman, shot 28% last year and is shooting 27% this year. So, he’s essentially the same shooter.

Gordon shot 23% last year, 21% this year. Same shooter.

DeGray shot 37% last year, 27% this year. He’s got some range and started off the year shooting well but has struggled lately.

Pickett is the guy who has really fallen off: 37% last year, 17% this year. I can’t really explain that one.

For one, we're not talking about Steph Curry or Klay Thompson. They're just not good shooters. Just one of those five have ever had a season better than 37%. Two, this team seems to struggle to get a lot of good looks because of the point guard play. Dru Smith put players in position to get good looks last year because he could not only shoot but facilitate.

Q: After Wednesday’s came, Martin said he didn't know why Coleman was walking the ball up the floor (or something like that). It's been a day or two since I played, but the coaches are on the sideline and allowed to tell players what to do during the game. Some of his comments I find baffling. 

A: Martin was talking about the first couple possessions, after which he took Coleman out of the game and replaced him with Kaleb Brown. So, he did address the situation. Give him credit for being honest after the game saying he didn't understand why Coleman was walking the ball up the floor when that wasn't the game plan. Mizzou wanted to push the tempo. Javon Pickett said the same thing and that MU got away from the plan.

Q: So, I guess the new AD will just ride out Martin's contract for this year and next, as Mizzou won't pay him millions to leave and they are also friends as she hired him at Tennessee. What a train wreck!

Kim Anderson era doesn't look so bad now. He never lost this many games by 20+ points in a season and the season is only half over. 

A: This is a business. If Reed-Francois believes the program needs a new head coach, personal feelings won't get in the way. I don't think fans would be making that comment about her friendship with Martin if the AD were a man. She didn't get this far in her career without firing people that she also respects and likes personally.

Kim Anderson had two 13-game losing streaks and a nine-game losing streak, all in separate seasons. His second year he had losses by 24, 33, 34 and 36 points. Whether or not this year is worse or will be worse, it doesn't make Anderson's years any better. This is bad. All of Anderson's years were bad. Could this get worse? Sure. Could Mizzou still have some decent wins like the Alabama game five days ago? Sure. But, again, there's no way to defend Wednesday night. It also doesn't mean they'll lose the rest of their games.

Q: What position do you think that Drink will fill his coaching staff out with?

A: Not sure. He already has a run game coordinator, so maybe hire a QB coach and call him the passing game coordinator, which is essentially a made-up title to justify salary. Some spread teams have both inside and outside receiver coaches. I doubt Drinkwitz does that because his wideouts play both spots. I think it makes sense to hire a QB coach who doesn't call plays but spends more time with that position group.

Also, it appears cornerbacks coach Aaron Fletcher is going to Arizona State. Pete Thamel reported that Wednesday afternoon and an MU source indicated that was the case. I’m told he was encouraged to look around. He just got here in the spring and brought the two Tulsa cornerbacks with him. So much rapid turnover with this staff.

Q: I know this basketball team has really struggled. What are the thoughts of giving Martin one more year with a lot returning next year and if it doesn't work, then move on. That would give Kim English one more year with George Mason to see if he is a viable option.

A: Let's see how this season finishes out. If Wednesday night becomes the norm, then it's a tough sell to keep the band together.

As for English, I like Kim a lot. I think he could develop into a great coach. He's not there yet. George Mason is 7-6. If that's only a .500 team by season's end and Mizzou wants to hire him solely because he's a Mizzou grad and made fans feel good about the program a decade ago — not because he's proven to be a high-major head coach — then that’s not a good decision. And if anyone's asking me, I think Mizzou should take a break from hiring alums just because they're alums. If there's serious competition from other high-major programs for an alum, that's one thing. But there wasn't the last time Mizzou hired alums as head coaches.

Q: Did Bazelak notify Drink before the Bowl game that he was entering the portal?

Find it odd that Cook played sparingly during the season despite Bazelak's struggles, but started the bowl game. Do you think Bazelak's transfer bites MU eventually?

A: I'm going to presume the staff knew Bazelak was going to transfer and that he was available only if there were multiple injuries in the bowl game. He didn't make a knee-jerk decision to transfer after the bowl. He said he had been thinking about transferring during the final few weeks of the season.

I do think it's possible Mizzou goes through some QB growing pains while Bazelak puts together a solid season at Indiana. The Hoosiers took a step back last fall but they're just a year removed from going 6-2 with wins over Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin. 

Q: How do you project the Mizzou defensive and offensive lines in 2022? I believe one of the biggest downfalls of the past campaign was our inability to protect our QB to stretch the field. With the playmakers in the receiver room, I'm not concerned with the quick game, but do we have the guys up front to win in the trenches?

A: On the O-line, you've got starters back at the tackles in Hyrin White (RT) and Javon Foster (LT). Luke Griffin, Xavier Delgado and Connor Wood have all started games at guard. Maybe some underclassmen push them for snaps: EJ Ndoma-Ogar or Drake Heismeyer. Center is a question mark. They landed the transfer from Buffalo, but Connor Tollison has a bright future somewhere along the line. Maybe at center.

Until Mekhi Wingo entered the portal, the D-line was in good shape with Trajan Jeffcoat and Isaiah McGuire back at end along with Darius Robinson at tackle. Now you've got to expect Oklahoma St. transfer Jayden Jernigan to be a starter at tackle. There’s young depth at end in Travion Ford, Johnny Walker and Arden Walker. Someone will have to emerge as D-tackle backups. Realus George. Maybe Ky Montgomery if he moves inside once his knee is recovered.

Q: I'm curious to where you think Mizzou would be if it weren't for Gary Pinkel. I would think it's a given that they wouldn't be in the SEC.

A: It's hard to speculate on where Mizzou would be without Pinkel because you never know, they might have hired a great coach that would have led them to greatness. But ... I doubt it. He was the perfect fit for what the program needed. He had a long-term plan and vision. He knew how to build a program and he had a solid, loyal staff that would help him get that done. He was too good to fire but not flashy enough to be on everyone’s job board every season. I admit I'm biased because I wrote his book with him and have spent more time with him than anyone I've ever covered. But over the last six years I've come to appreciate more and more how his approach, his structure, his organization was so instrumental in making Mizzou competitive and relevant on a national stage. Mizzou's last two head coaches have learned on the job and there's a distinct difference in how they ran their program compared to Pinkel.

Dave Matter

@dave_Matter on Twitter


This article originally ran on stltoday.com.



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