Chat Mizzou sports with Dave Matter at 11 a.m. Thursday

Chat Mizzou sports with Dave Matter at 11 a.m. Thursday

Bring your Tigers basketball, football and recruiting questions, and talk to Mizzou beat writer Dave Matter in a live chat at 11 a.m. Thursday.

    They all have positions on this team. It's  not really an example of position-less basketball this season. Pinson plays the 1. Drew Buggs is his backup. Dru Smith plays the 2, sometimes the 1. Mark Smith plays the 3. Pickett is his backup. Kobe Brown plays the 4, plus Mitchell Smith, sometimes Parker Braun. Tilmon is the five, with Mitchell Smith and Wilmore as his backups.
    Good morning,
    A few basketball questions...
    1) Any update on Dru Smith’s hand? He seemed more effective on offense last game though maybe not quite up to par.

    2) I would like to see more plays ran for Mark Smith. I know putting him in the corner provides spacing, but does Cuonzo have any concerns on the number of touches he’s getting?

    3) Do you think there’s any shot we see Ed Chang this season, considering our shooting struggles. Down by close to 30 against Tennessee seemed like a good opportunity.
  • 1. Dru has been wearing a splint of some sort on his hand. He's actually been shooting better lately. He's 3 of 4 from 3 the last two games and 9 of 19 overall the last three games. 
    2. He's got the green light to shoot from 3. Martin has talked about wanting to see him attack the rim more, which he did on the very first play of the Mississippi State game,when he beat his man on the baseline and attacked the basket for a layup. He should be able to get to the line more often, too.
    3. Martin talked about Chang last week and said he's just not ready to help this team yet this year. Maybe that changes, but I'm skeptical. 
  • Considering the men's basketball team has most of the same players as last year, and considering their record last year and the inconsistent play this year (Bradley, Tenn, Miss St.) I'm guessing these players pretty much are just not that good.
    They looked pretty good against Oregon, Illinois and Arkansas. They looked pretty good in big wins last year over Illinois, Florida and Auburn. They're not very consistent other than consistently missing 3-pointers. But I still think this team can finish in the top four of the SEC. There's just no momentum from one game to the next in this league because there's  not a whole lot of separation between teams. It wouldn't shock me at all to see Mizzou beat a really talented LSU team Saturday - and then struggle against Vanderbilt next week. No one should be surprised if you're paying attention.
    Most disappointing MBB player thus far? My vote goes to Drew Smith. Sadly he is playing like a shadow of his former self last year.
    Dru showed some good signs in the Mississippi State game. He stayed out of foul trouble, he got the transition game going a few times and he's shooting better from 3. He needs to get to the foul line more often. 
    As to who's the most disappointing? It's clearly not Tilmon or Pinson. Mark Smith was very good early. Dru Smith, as you mentioned, had been in a funk. I'd probably go with Kobe Brown. It seems like he's searching for a role. He's a big physical guy but I'm not sure he's embraced the power part of being a power forward. He's made progress as a rebounder. I think he can do more there - and get to the foul line more often.
    With Walters as DC Mizzou's base defense was not a traditional 4-3, 3-4, etc but something else usually putting in a hybrid linebacker/safety. Is this typical of what the SEC teams deploy nowadays? Did Walters do this out of design or based on the personnel he could use?
    I know the media has been limited to Zoom meetings/interviews but did you ever hear anything from HC Drink about this?
    As the team goes forward do you have an idea of what they want to employ in the future? Now that HC has a year of nothing but SEC competition he has to have a better feel for what's effective in the SEC.
    Drinkwitz is pretty hands-off when it comes to the defense. He spends his time almost exclusively with the offense. Here's what he said about the defense back in the spring, which I think speaks to his overall approach with that side of the ball:

    "I like to joke around (with the defense) in pre-practice, but I stay in my lane. I’m aware of what they’re doing. I know what they’re doing. But right now in spring, I’ve got my hands full running the offense.

    “We watch the (practice) film all together. We point out effort and technique, but schematically, they worry about what schemes they want to put in. I’m not going to worry about it.”

    As for Walters' scheme, this year was still essentially a 4-2-5 base defense, with three down linemen and a defensive end in a two-point stance as a Buck linebacker. But I'm careful not to call it a classic three-man front because that Buck linebacker was a player who came from the D-line group (Trajan Jeffcoat, Tre Williams), not the inside linebacker group. MU played with three safeties: two traditional deep safeties (Bledsoe, Gillespie) and a third hybrid player who was more of an outside linebacker (Manuel). Playing with two inside linebackers and five defensive backs is the standard defense in today's game. There's nothing unique about that. Rarely do you see a team lineup with three traditional linebackers on the field.

    What made Mizzou's defense unique is how the three down linemen align. The nose tackle (Kobie Whitside, Darius Robinson) generally lines up directly across from the center and the two players flanking him lined up across from the inside eye of the offensive tackle, the 4-I tackles. Those are bigger defensive ends or D-tackles, where Markell Utsey, Akial Byers and Chris Turner played this year. I believe it was Kirby Smart this year said Missouri was the only defense in the SEC that aligned its down linemen that way. 

    I for one enjoyed thisu year’s 10 game SEC schedule as opposed to the regular 8 game SEC schedule with 4 September non conference games against non power 5 opponents. I understand teams schedule weak opponents in September so they can build themselves up for the conference season, but watching games vs Delaware St or Idaho or SEMO are hard to get excited about after awhile. If things are back to normal next September, will the SEC return to its usual 8 game schedule?
    Yes, the eight-game rotations are already set through 2025. I don't anticipate the SEC going away from that scheduling model unless there's a dramatic shift from the majority of the coaches and ADs this offseason.
    Thanks for the insight on Walters' move. I hope it only takes as long to put the D back together as it did for it to fall apart. Building a competitive defense in the SEC is so difficult. In the meantime, can Drink put together an offense that can score enough points to win?
  • This year was a promising start for the offense. Two big needs: 
    1. Another workhorse running back
    2. Big-play threats at receiver
    I'll touch on Larry Rountree's 2020 season more on the site later today, but what he did was incredibly unique, averaging 21 carries a game. Is there anyone else on the roster who can take on that kind of workload? If not, expect some kind of platoon system.
    Mizzou needs more receivers who can stretch the field. It's a team full of possession receivers. That might have impacted some of the play-calling this year. Per Pro Football Focus, in the nine games Bazelak played the bulk of the snaps, he averaged 5.6 passes that were targeted 20 yards or farther downfield. That's more than Drew Lock averaged his senior year (4.9) but fewer than Lock averaged in 2017 (6.8) and 2016 (7.4). 
    Walters defense was pitiful against Arkansas & Miss State& I certainly don’t remember him being known as a recruiter but isn’t going to Illinois & Big Ten a step down from MIZZOU & SEC?
    I touched on the job switch earlier.
    As for a recruiter, he was the primary recruiter on Tyree Gillespie and Jarvis Ware and most if not all the Florida players MU signed the last few years, including JC Carlies.
    Hi Dave. I’d like to know your thoughts on CFP expansion. My wish would be 12 teams. The division winners from the Power 5 plus 2 at-large. The CFP committee would pick four teams to get a first round bye and the two at-large teams. Every area of the country would be represented. All other teams fill the bowl games. What are your thoughts? Thanks
    I'm all for expansion. I'd be happy with eight. The Power Five champions and three at-larges. Maybe two Power Five at-larges and the best Group of Five team at No. 8. 
    I would also much prefer to see the quarterfinals/semifinals be played at home stadiums. The top seeds should be rewarded with home-field advantage. It would make for a much better atmosphere than some sterile indoor NFL stadium in Phoenix or Atlanta. 
    Good afternoon Dave and a very Happy New Year to you. So maybe you could help me with somewhat of a tough decision: Before this past Tuesday night's game vs MSU, I bought two tickets to the LSU game in CoMO this Saturday eager to see Cuonzo Martin's best Mizzou team since his first one here live and in person. Not feeling too enthusiastic anymore after the embarrassing implosion at MSU and not sure I want to go to the game anymore. Was wondering if you might know which Mizzou team might show up this Saturday so as to help me with my decision-- will it be the one that looked great for 3 total halves vs. Arkansas and the first half against MSU, or the one that looked abysmal in the game vs.Tenn and the 2nd half vs. MSU?
    It's hard to predict at this point. This team rides a roller coaster lately. Just when everyone jumped off the bandwagon following the Tennessee game, Mizzou played a thorough game and soundly beat a good Arkansas team. Then Mizzou played its best half of the season, followed by its worst half. They've proven this year they're good enough to beat this LSU team. LSU doesn't play much defense. But they can score - a lot. I wouldn't write this team off. They're good enough to beat every team left on the schedule. They're flawed enough to lose to any team left on the schedule.
    Dave... wonder who’s game is most respected by teammates. If you were to take a private poll of the basketball team, who would be considered the top three players?
  • Tilmon, Pinson ... and I'm not sure about number three. They've always spoke highly of Mark Smith because he does have an elite skill - though the results aren't always consistent.
  • Dave, I live in Springfield, MO. Over the last month a very small school in our area (Greenwood), which features Aminu Mohammed a 5 star national talent going to Georgetown beat a large school Kickapoo in basketball. Kickapoo currently has 4 starters going to D-1 schools, including two to Mizzou. This victory gives you an idea of how good A. Mohammed is at b-ball, because Greenwood does not have the supporting cast. I read more about sports than I want to admit, and I see nowhere where Mizzou attempted to sign A. Mohammed, while everyone else (including Towson State) offered him a scholarship. What I am I missing here? Why would you not at least show some interest in an instate prospect of this magnitude, especially when he beat up on your recruits. I'd appreciate your thoughts on this puzzling lack of interest. Thank you!
    In a case like this, where there's never any traction between a high-profile in-state player and the in-state school, more often than not it's a case of the player making it clear early in the process that he's not interested in Mizzou. Martin isn't the kind of coach who's going to waste time recruiting someone he knows won't play for him. I don't know if that's what happened here, but that's generally how this has worked in the past. I don't think it's a case of Mizzou not thinking the guy is talented enough.
    Are we just going to have to accept the fact that Mizzou basketball will be mediocre for the foreseeable future?
    I can't tell you how to feel. I don't think this team is mediocre - yet. They played a bad half and didn't show up against the best team in the league. They still have more good wins (three) than bad losses (one).
    Do you think the lack of consistency in the Men's basketball this year is something that will change? It seems like Mizzou can very easily fall off and have problems scoring. Why can't the team put together a full 40 minute performance? Performing like this will result in a typical early exit from March Madness if we even make it.
    As bad as Tuesday was in the second half, why isn't the Illinois game or the Arkansas game considered a full 40-minute performance? Those were really good wins. You didn't see wild fluctuations in play in those games. I know we're prisoners of the moment when it comes to the teams we follow, but one bad half shouldn't erase what happened just three days earlier. Again, we've seen a lot more good halves from this team than we've seen bad halves. If they can recapture the good stuff consistently, there's no reason they can't still have a strong season. If they keep playing like they did in the second half on Tuesday, then it's going to be a long, painful slog.
    Why is Mitchell Smith still shooting 3 pointers? He is left open on purpose for this reason. There should only be a few players routinely shooting 3's.
    I touched on this earlier. He shot 44-percent in the final six weeks of last season. He's in those positions to make 3s because he's made them before. He's missing them now. Do you pull the plug on those sets based on this year's results or hope he can recapture his form from last year?
    I know almost every team is benefitting from the extra year of eligibility but from my limited view Mizzou FB is doing well. Love having Maetti back. They've had some very good C's over the past 10-15 years and it's great to anchor the line with such a capable player. Getting players back at WR and D-line helps with some areas that could have been lacking.
  • For sure. It's a good sign for this staff that so many veteran players are coming back for 2021. Now, keep in mind, if these guys were getting advice from the NFL that they should enter the draft, then they're not coming back to school. But Mizzou benefits from this trend. The more experience and depth you have along the line of scrimmage, the better chance you'll have to compete next year. Maietti's return is pivotal because you lose Larry Borom and don't have an experienced center ready to step in right away. Remember, the seniors who choose to take advantage of the NCAA's extra year don't count against the 85-man scholarship limit in 2021.
  • Mizzou continues to turn the ball over repeatedly in the paint. The bounce passes almost always bounce off someone's foot or goes to the other team. How can they fix this and will they be able to?
  • Make better passes? I'm not sure there's a magical answer. They need to handle the ball better, make better decisions with the ball and stop with the offensive fouls.
  • Obviously Cuonzo is relying on his experienced players this year, but did he forget how to recruit? That 7’3 stiff can’t even run up and down the floor. If they don’t get in tournament & win it’s time for a new coach. He’s only ever lasted 3-4 years everywhere he’s been & I can see why! The Ms State game was hardtop watch with no adjustments in 2nd half. your thoughts on a possible replacement?
    You say that like he was fired everywhere else he's coached. He left Missouri State for a much better job at Tennessee. He left Tennessee for Cal because thousands of yokels in Knoxville signed a petition to bring back Bruce Pearl - in a year Martin took the Vols to the Sweet Sixteen. And he left Cal for a better job at Mizzou. 
    That said, they clearly whiffed on this recruiting class. Two role player transfers, one of whom hasn't seen the floor, and a backup center who rarely sees the floor. 
    I'm not speculating on a replacement for a coach who's team is ranked for the first time in seven years. That's absurd. 
    Why doesn't Cuonzo call time outs when we are struggling? He refused to call one as MSU ran away with the game.
    But he did. He called a timeout with 15:25 left when Mississippi State cut the lead to five - even though he was getting a media timeout at the next stoppage. He called another one when MSU got up by 12. In between those two timeouts there were three media timeouts. MSU called one during that stretch, too. The clock stops plenty in college basketball. Some coaches don't like calling a timeout in those situations because it gives the other team a chance to regroup, too. It's a feel and a philosophy. But in this case, he called a couple timeouts during the MSU run and had plenty of other stoppages.
    I'm a big Cuonzo supporter, love the guy as a person, and am still hopeful he ends up having a very long & illustrious career at MU. But yes, would be lying if I were to say that I have no doubts he is unquestionably a great coach, and one of the things I wonder about that in this regard is this: Is it my imagination, or does he seem to really get out-coached by and loses most of his games to teams with head coaches that have championship-level experience such as a Rick Barnes or a Ben Howland?
    Howland is 7-1 against Mizzou since he got the Mississippi State job, with some of those wins coming against Kim Anderson. Barnes is 4-1 against Martin the last four years. Bruce Pearl is 3-1. Martin has done better against Tom Crean and Frank Martin, two coaches who have Final Four rings.
  • Ryan Walters ditching the program for a lackluster Illinois is disrespectful to those players he helped recruit. I think it is shameful how he is leaving them in the dust.
  • I don't think that's the right read on what's happening here.
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