Hello there, chatters. I'm here for the next 90 minutes or so and will take as many questions and comments as I can get to until about 12:30. Kim Anderson's weekly press conference is later today.
Turn on ESPN and you're bound to find a bunch doing analysis work. None that jump out to me as someone who would make a good hire at a high-major program.
Everyone wants everyone fired these days. I'd say 50 to 75 percent of my Twitter mentions during the course of every Mizzou football and basketball game the last two years has been about firing a coach/AD/water boy/cheerleader/curator/mascot, etc. You can't keep people in office if they're making the program worse on their watch, but under constant change it's hard to build continuity. If you're going to let your head coach dismantle a roster and start over from scratch, it's usually done with the understanding that it's going to take a few years to see some results. Missouri's roster seems to be in endless dismantling mode from the time Mike Anderson left for Arkansas. That's not good for continuity's sake. Whether you make a change in March or 2018 or 2022, you better hire someone with a track record for building rosters, someone who has a vision and a background that indicates he knows how to pull it off.
I'd expect Wilson to be the favorite going into spring ball as the No. 2. Jack Lowary is still on the roster and he's year older, but the staff seemed pretty pleased when they were able to get Wilson to flip his commitment to Boise State so they could groom him in this offense.
Honestly, I don't see any pros of making a midseason change. For one, who on this staff would be an upgrade for the rest of the season? If there was someone on the staff who might be a potential candidate to take the job full-time then maybe it's an option. That isn't the case with this staff. Also, a midseason move like that would be bad financially because you'd alienate a good chunk of the only fans currently supporting the program. Fans who are staying away from Mizzou Arena aren't going to suddenly show up for the rest of the season to watch Steve Shields or Rob Fulford coach the team. But there is a core of Kim Anderson supporters who show up through thick and thin.
Rupp is a dump. The media seats where they stick the visiting reporters would be similar to sitting at the top row of Mizzou Arena. Allen Fieldhouse is an amazing place to watch a game. Best atmosphere I've ever experienced in person. Indiana and Arizona are very good, too. Iowa State is a great when the Cyclones are good. Arkansas can be a strong environment if the Hogs are doing well. Same for Texas A&M. Otherwise, in the SEC, meh, nothing special. I haven't covered Mizzou hoops as long as I've covered football, so I haven't been to as many basketball arenas. Xavier was the perfect sized arena, lively student section.
I think it's getting a lot of coverage nationally, but I agree, it would be a bombshell if this involved coaches at a blueblood program. Louisville is going to come out of this looking pretty slimy, but, hey, it's Bobby Petrino. Tom Jurich hasn't exactly made that place a bastion of ethics. I feel bad for Dave Clawson, Wake's head coach, to have such a creep working in his program. The real casualty in this could be what little access reporters currently have to football programs. Coaches are already the most paranoid breed in America. This will only fuel their fears that everyone is out to learn their secrets and share them with the rest of the coaching world.
That's the biggest question on everyone's mind this week. I think it's wise to pump the brakes a bit. Barnett has played in 25 Division I games - and has only played more than 15 minutes just four times, two years ago. He'll be an instant upgrade to the team's athleticism. MU's transition game is better with him on the floor. He'll be the team's best rebounding wing play (when he's at the 3, his natural position). He can shoot from outside. He's got a soft touch inside the arc. He's athletic enough that he should be a good defender. I think it works out well for Mizzou and Barnett that he gets Saturday's game against Eastern Illinois to knock off some rust before he comes home to play in the Braggin Rights game a week from today. If he averages double-digit points and 5-6 rebounds, that should really help this team.
Yes, Saturday morning, when Mizzou can't possibly have any breaking news that will pull me away.
Slim to none. Sure, the Tigers could go on a run in league play, but realistically, if you can't beat North Carolina Central, if you can't stay within 15 of Davidson, you're not going to win enough games in the SEC, a league that might get three or four bids.
Constant turmoil is a bit over the top. Is Anderson the guy to turn it around? If you work on blind faith, then perhaps he is. But it's year three, and Missouri is getting the results you need to signal significant progress. A win over Arizona would have been the kind of evidence Anderson needed to state his case that he's got this thing figured out. It didn't happen. Will he get enough time to produce the evidence that he can make Mizzou relevant again? The Catch 22 with the SEC is there's only so many high profile games that you can realistically win to secure your job.
There's a glut of veteran receivers who didn't see the field - at a position that MU is restocking with recruits. There are a few linebackers who aren't seeing the field - and a few freshman linebackers joining the team this summer. Maybe an offensive linemen or two might see the writing on the wall and head elsewhere.
There are days when he's by far the best player on the court. That came straight from the head coach a few weeks back. Barnett is one of those smooth athletes that can appear to be loafing, but he's just at his natural pace. He'll have to play with some energy on defense to secure heavy minutes. He might be their most polished face-the-basket offensive player on the wing. That might not be saying much because Walton's not exactly a finished product and Hughes and VanLeer aren't the most dynamic of players. But I would expect Barnett to instantly become the team's best combination of perimeter shooter/floor runner/rim finisher. Now, how much does all that talent translate into points? We'll find out soon enough.
The Braggin Rights ticket prices baffle me. I have no doubts those prices are affecting crowd size. It's one thing if this is a matchup of two nationally ranked teams, but that's not the case. Since Norm Stewart's last BR game in 1998, Mizzou and Illinois have met with both in the top 25 just six times (2002-04, 2011-13). But the ticket prices still reflect that this is a game in high demand. And it's just not. Expect to see a lot of empty seats next Wednesday. Obviously if the teams were better attendance would be stronger, but more affordable ticket prices would help, too.
He has not given any indication that he's making any staff changes among the nine position coaches/coordinators.
I assume there have been some internal measures that were part of the suspension (extra running, etc), but Odom hasn't revealed anything publicly.
I don't get too far into the weeds of analyzing a recruiting class before any of the players see the field. I know this much: There will be a couple players in this class getting a lot of attention right now who won't contribute much of anything to the team and probably transfer or earn their way off the team. And there's going to be two or three players not generating any buzz who will be productive multiyear starters. You just never know who's going to adjust to college and thrive or struggle under the pressure it takes to play at this level. I will say the staff is addressing areas that need depth: linebacker, defensive line, receiver, running back. They still need some D-line help and defensive backs. As for next season, you don't get a more favorable schedule in the SEC than MU gets in 2017. When two of your four road games are at Vandy and Kentucky, you better capitalize. Tennessee loses a lot - and they come to Columbia. South Carolina is quietly making strides under Muschamp - but they come to Mizzou. Georgia didn't exactly set the world on fire under Kirby Smart. The best SEC team on the schedule is Auburn - and that game's in Columbia. If Missouri can figure out its defense quickly - and not taking any steps back on offense - Odom should be preparing for a bowl a year from today. If not, then MU could really get buried deep in this league.
OK, but I don't think that's what the person was asking me.
Odom and Jim Sterk are holding a press conference tomorrow afternoon to discuss the latest developments for the facility. Stay tuned for another 24 hours or so.
The good thing about the SEC is a bunch of teams will make the NCAA Tournament because winning league games boosts your credentials. The bad thing about the SEC is you've got to play a bunch of elite teams from week to week - though MU avoids LSU and Mississippi State. Mizzou could have the league's best starting pitcher in Tanner Houck, but Bieser's going to have to unlock the lineup and find some runs for Missouri to be competitive in the SEC and compete for a regional spot. I'm not saying it's impossible, but they'll have to make a lot of progress under the new staff to be playing in the postseason.
I'd look at the two in-state receivers, Davis and Armstrong. Missouri doesn't have a glaring need for starting receivers for 2017, but I could see them working their way into the depth. The two junior college defensive lineman, Anderson and Brandon, will have a clear path to playing time if they show up in shape and ready to compete immediately.
Well, they won't be favored many nights in the SEC, so they'll have plenty of chances for upsets. I don't see them staying on the floor against Kentucky or at Florida. Home games against LSU, Auburn, Ole Mis, South Carolina, Arkansas and Bama are all winnable if shots are falling. On the road, maybe Bama, Mississippi State and Auburn. Otherwise, the Tigers figure to be decided long shots most nights.