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

    Greetings, chatters.
    We've got some breaking news today on Mizzou's football staff. Bruce Feldman of The Athletic just reported that MU cornerbacks coach David Gibbs is heading to UCF to serve as Gus Malzahn's co-defensive coordinator. I'm working to confirm that report on the MU side of things. Malzahn and Eli Drinkwitz are very close - they spoke on Monday when Malzahn was introduced as UCF's new head coach. So I doubt this is coming as a major surprise to Drinkwitz. 
    If Gibbs indeeds leaves Mizzou's staff, that means all three defensive assistants that Drinkwitz kept from the Odom regime will be gone from the program. Not shocking based on some of Drinkwitz's comments in the Q&A I had with Eli yesterday
    If you haven't read that yet, be sure to check it out:

    Eli Drinkwitz Q&A: Mizzou still building program from infancy stage

    STLtoday.com: The second-year football coach is bullish on the Tigers' future coming off 5-5 debut season.
    Good morning Dave,
    I bet the slant of Tiger strings today will focus on separating Coach from the program. I'll leave that subject to AD Jim after our season is complete. We still have a good shot of making the tournament.
    My take is our key to winning our remaining games comes down to playing tenacious defense and turnovers. Given the current mix of players will continue to be inconsistent on the offensive end, I believe if we can achieve this, we will be fine. Talk to me.
    Cuonzo Martin isn't getting fired. Let's get that out of the way right now. By winning 20 games (and making the NCAA tourney) in his first year, Martin triggered a clause in his contract that says Mizzou can't fire him without cause until May 2021 - and if so, would owe him $6 million. Missouri isn't taking that kind of hit to fire a coach who still has his team in contention for its second NCAA tourney appearance in eight years, both of which would come under his watch.
    His team's in a slump. His team still has five Quad 1 wins this season, more than all but five teams in the entire field of 351 Division I programs. 
    Mizzou doesn't force a lot of turnovers on defense and hasn't played anything close to ferocious defense lately. That has to improve. On Tuesday it was all about turnovers and transition defense .That combination hasn't been a weakness for this team this year but it certainly was at Georgia. They have to sharpen the offense, too. No doubt. Pinson needs to make better decisions with the ball and play to his strengths. Dru Smith needs to handle the ball better. He got sloppy and careless at Georgia. I thought Tuesday was a good night for Mark Smith. He's not someone they're counting on to score 15 points a game like he was the first couple weeks of the season. If he can score 10, hit a couple 3s, play hard, disruptive defense, that's his role. 
    Why is the basketball squad SO inconsistent lately between 1st and 2nd half. I know you will say halftime adjustments from other teams are a factor, but a coach should see that coming plus the big leads should not disappear like that when you "top 10". Thoughts other than adjustments by other team?
    I keep hearing about adjustments, but what adjustments did Georgia make Tuesday? If they did, why did they wait about seven minutes for the adjustments to kick in? Mizzou continued to dominate in the second half. The Tigers got all the looks they wanted and made several consecutive stops on defense. The momentum shifted when MU went away from Kobe Brown/Parker Braun and Pinson took some rushed shots and turned the ball over and Georgia converted those into transition points, including three transition 3s. That's where the tide shifted and where the game was won. Georgia was aggressive defensively and disruptive, but that's not really an adjustment. That's the style Tom Crean wants his team to play. 
    I don't know how to explain the second-half collapses. Maybe Mizzou gets too comfortable with leads. Or maybe it's just the opposite: Maybe Mizzou gets too tense and uptight and starts to panic. It's hard to say, but on the offensive end you have to start with the perimeter players who have the ball in their hands and make the key decisions to direct the ball. 
    Good morning, Dave.

    Who is accountable for the debacle which has become the second half of a MIzzou men's basketball game? Which individual(s) are managing the game and need to be held accountable. Players, coaches, both?

    I understand the buyout component of Coach Martin's contract. Is he the man to get this program to the next level which at this point seems to be middle of the SEC standings and a few wins over .500 overall. In my mind, doubt is starting to creep in. And, I realize Coach Martin and the team have had to contend with COVID-19, J. Tilmon's absence the last couple of games, etc. Other teams have had to deal with the same issues though.

    As Coach Parcells always says, "You are what your record says you are."

    Thanks.
    Yes, you are what your record says you are, and this team's record says it's still having its best season in nearly a decade. Those three wins over top 10 teams still happened this season. The second-half collapses are bad. There's no denying that. The way the schedule unfolds going further, Mizzou's floor is deeper than its ceiling is high in terms of postseason seedings. But even good teams have slumps. Iowa lost four of five games and is still considered a threat. Texas Tech had a 3-3 stretch. West Virginia had a 2-3 stretch. Texas lost four of five last month. These are all Sweet 16 caliber teams. Mizzou is hardly alone in going through a rough stretch. They've got to solve some of these issues. They know that. 
    Who's accountable? Just like any team in any sport, it falls on the head coach and his top players to fix the problems. No one is disputing that. 
    If we don't get in tourney will Martin be fired. I support Martin
    I don't see that happening. 
    Unless between now and April Jim Sterk wins $10 million in the lottery to pay off Martin, his staff and hire a new coach. 
    Has Cuonzo been able to capitalize on the teams success this season on the recruiting trail? Waiting for a group to be successful as upperclassmen is not something this fanbase is used to? Is this just the Cuonzo way?
    Waiting for upperclassmen to be successful is not what Mizzou fans are used to? Well, I guess that's true in some respect. Mizzou fans are used to waiting for any success and ... watching other teams play in March. Mizzou has played in one NCAA Tournament in the last eight years and hasn't won an NCAA Tournament game since 2009. Perspective: My kids are 11 and in their last year of elementary school. Mizzou hasn't won an NCAA Tournament game in their lifetime. 
    So, I guess I'm a little confused by the notion that fans are used to success, especially with young players. The early 1990s were a long time ago. The Kim English-Marcus Denmon-Mike Dixon years were a long time ago. Even that team was all about upperclassmen having success - and fans having to be patient for that talent to develop. 
    I keep seeing a lot of people saying Mizzou is a lock for the tournament. I’m not sure about that. They finish below .500 in conference and I’m not sure they make it. What do you think they need to do to secure a bid?
    If they split the final four games (or six games if the two postponed games are played) then that could be enough to stay on the right side of the NCAA bubble. A loss at Florida won't hurt their chances of making the tourney because that's a Quad 1 game and will help strength of schedule. 
    All that said, if MU loses Saturday at South Carolina then it's time to start worrying about making the bracket. 
    Don't forget though: The good wins are excellent currency. You can't take away those Ws over Illinois, Alabama, Oregon, Tennessee (on the road) and Arkansas (on the road). And the selection committee doesn't take into account when the games were played. A win over Illinois on Dec. 12 is viewed no differently than if it happened on March 12.
    Looking towards next year hoops, who do you see from this recruiting class stepping in right away?
    First, it all depends on what else the staff adds. I'd expect MU to explore the transfer market heavily. It would be naive to think every freshman, sophomore and junior will return for 2021-22. But if we're just talking about the recruits who signed already Anton Brookshire should get a chance to play immediately. He's a ball handler, a combo guard, a perimeter scoring threat and playmaker. They will need him to contribute after Dru Smith leaves and (possibly) Pinson. They'll also expect Sean Durugordon to contribute right away after getting a semester head start with the program. He's a wing who can shoot and slash.
    can martin get an extension if we can get in the tourney
  • Hi Dave, thanks for the Q and A with Drink yesterday. Was it difficult to arrange? And did he give any insight as to how much access the press be allowed to the team this coming season?
    It was not difficult to arrange. He wanted to wait until he hired a defensive coordinator and took care of some other staff moves before we spoke. Then he picked a time and place and we met for about an hour yesterday. 
    No plans yet for access. Mizzou is in the process of finalizing a new hire for a football media relations staffer. Drinkwitz isn't sure yet if media will be allowed to watch any spring practices or interview him in person during the spring. 
    Not a single freshman or sophomore from the st. louis area on the roster. Lots of top talent heading out of the state. Has Cuonzo mentioned making this a priority much the way Drink has done. Obviously easier said than done. I realize some kids no matter what you do are gonna head for "greener pastures" but seems like Mizzou not even in real running for most of these kids. Thoughts on recruiting in state.
    Yes, Martin has talked about recruiting the best players in the state and the St. Louis area. Mizzou was a factor in the decision for most of the best players from the St. Louis area. Caleb Love, Cam'Ron Fletcher, EJ Liddell. Martin is also very aware of what happens when area players come to Mizzou and don't have instant success. And it's something that Eli Drinkwitz is learning, too. It's great when an area player has success at Mizzou. When they don't have success it's usually worse - at least perception-wise - compared to a player from another part of the country who struggles early. Martin wants players that fit his program. If they're local targets, great. It's great to have recognizable names on the team and it's great for local fan excitement. Tilmon, Pickett, Mark Smith, Watson were all high-profile recruits from the region. So was Mario McKinney.
    I remember Jack Buford’s signing being a Big Deal, and him talking about participating in recruiting other STL players. But I guess that if he couldn’t play for a team that really needed OL help once he opted back in, then it should not be a surprise about him moving on?
    Not a surprise at all. He wasn't a great fit for the new staff. The writing was on the wall in big, bold letters last fall when four different players saw time at left guard and he wasn't among them. He'll land in a good spot, I would think, this spring. 
    Drinkwitz told me yesterday he expects more roster turnover possibly after the spring, notably on the defensive side.
    "There's still the transition from some previous staff with the defense," he said. "So there's gonna be some guys that naturally feel maybe I'm not their (fit), whatever that is."
    A question I would have liked HCED to address is how he looks at continuing to need to recruit his own players now, thanks to the transfer portal and, to a lesser extent, COVID. Doesn’t sound like he loses much sleep over it.
    Like he said in the interview, he doesn't get too caught up in the transfer portal. It's a major part of college football now. You're not doing your job if you don't monitor it closely. The portal door opens both ways. You're going to lose players you don't necessarily expect to lose, but there's plenty more in the portal you can add.
    Pinson just doesn’t seem fully engaged the last few games. Not that even a longtime fan can really read nonverbal communication through a TV screen.
  • Yes, it's not necessarily a new trend. He's done this before. He usually recovers in the next game and gets back to playing to his strengths: driving the ball, drawing fouls, making plays for his teammates, getting to the FT line. At times he seems intent on becoming a pull-up jump shooter. Cuonzo is clearly frustrated. The only motivator might be the bench. But then your margin for error is that much smaller without your most talented guard in the game for long stretches.
    Why does a terrible shooting team continue to fire up Ill advised 3’s? HC Martin, although a good man, is an average major college coach and a disappointing recruiter. Poor combination that does not bode well for future.
    Too many early 3s in the last game. They were mostly open 3s from the corner or the wings coming off a pass, which is a staple of this offense. It's the quick, pull-up 3 that's mostly ill-advised. After the second timeout at Georgia, MU all but stopped taking those shots the rest of the half. The message seemed delivered. That's when they started playing through Kobe Brown to take advantage of the mismatch inside. Good adjustment on MU's part. They've never really played through Brown before that game.
    Good day to you Dave, and hope all is well your way. Coach Cuonzo Martin....sigh.... man how I wanted him to be the answer that Mizzou had been looking for as head coach.  But now, I find myself wondering more & more if perhaps he was just meant to lift the Mizzou 🏀 program out of the depths of misery it had sunk to in the Kim Anderson era, but, frustratingly, there might really be nothing higher than that for him in terms of his ceiling as a head coach at MU? Just not a championship-level coach it seems(by championships I mean just competing for SEC Conference titles, finishing high enough in the standings to get TWO days off during the SEC Tournament which they are yet to do since joining the conference. Wouldn't dare to even bother to think of the Big Dance championship); perhaps Mizzou has to make one more hire at the head coaching position to attain that level? What says you regarding this topic?
    This is what Martin has been through most of his career. His teams are based more on grit than polish. His best teams are far from elite but good enough to beat anyone in the conference but flawed enough to lose to most anyone. Not a terribly high ceiling, not a terribly low floor. You know he's not going to run into NCAA trouble. All of those qualities are exactly what the program needed coming out of the Kim Anderson disaster. The hope has always been that once Martin establishes his program with solid roots then recruiting will perk up and Mizzou can start building a consistent winner on a national level beyond just being more competitive. That was happening this year until this recent slump. Can they snap out of it?
    Either way, I can't tell you the future is going to be great because the roster situation is so murky with so many unproven newcomers joining the mix. A promising March will build hope, but things aren't trending well right now. 
    I am worried about next year don't see any inside game or guards that can create I looked at the 5 recruits highest ranking is 143 point guard from Kickapoo
    Kobe Brown is showing he can be a very good player. If Braun gets stronger, he's got the skill to be a productive player in this league. The newcomers are going to have to produce instantly for this team to be competitive with so many uncertain pieces.
    Good day Dave,
    Glad to see the weather is heating up.
    As Jeff Gordon accurately pointed out MBB caught some good teams at the right time and showed success. Now they're on the other end of the spectrum. The breaks even out over time.
    This team still has time and it would be very beneficial for them to pull it together down the stretch to earn a double bye. The Florida game will likely be the decider, but we don't know about rescheduling. So many teams are bunched in the middle of the SEC it'll likely come down to tie-breakers.
    Mizzou should hope to have an NCAA bid locked up before Nashville. That is certainly still possibly and probably likely. Here's why it's too early to just give up on this season: Mizzou has played one game all season where by halftime you knew it had no chance to win, the SEC opener against Tennessee. Otherwise, they've been in every game when the second half tips off. They fell apart in the second half in losses to Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Auburn and Georgia. This has never been a case of Mizzou having zero to shot to win at tip-off as was the case in most games under the previous regime. There's just a very slim margin for error, even when you've got a second-half lead.
    Loved your interview with Eli Drinkwitz. He knows it's going to be a challenge to make Mizzou a consistent winner in football but he is so positive about the future that it's hard not to be overly optimistic about the 2021 season. My question: how does Mizzou's talent level compare with the rest of the SEC East?
  • Still behind Georgia and Florida but a step ahead of Tennessee after its roster exodus, Kentucky, South Carolina and Vandy. Having an established quarterback is enormous for Mizzou in 2021. Bazalak isn't the preseason All-SEC candidate, but look around the league at QB situations. Here's who will be replacing their starter in 2021: Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Texas A&M, Arkansas, South Carolina. 
    The guys coming back this year are Ole Miss' Matt Corral, Georgia's JT Daniels, Auburn's Bo Nix, Bazelak, LSU's Myles Brennan. 
    MU also brings back four starters on the O-line, a handful of proven playmakers on offense, essentially the entire defensive line and some key pieces at corner, safety and linebacker. There's a lot to like about the returning roster. 
  • Absolutely pathetic performances by MUBB. Terrible, sloppy play and giving up after we have huge leads. At this point they'll be lucky to make the tournament.
    I know that Tilmon was out for the last 2 games and that has a major impact on how we play, but I am tired of always making excuses. There is always something that they are dealing with and the team and Cuonzo need to figure out a way to consistently win.
    What was the excuse for the first 17 games of the season? I don't recall there being one. The team was healthy and available for every game. The team's best player didn't play against Arkansas in a game MU took to overtime against the hottest team in the SEC. Martin and the players who talked after the game didn't make any excuses. Martin, especially. He all but dismissed any talk of Tilmon after the game. Same thing after Georgia. Mizzou had enough to win both games, and to the team's credit that's what they said. That doesn't change the fact that they severely missed Tilmon in both games.
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