Mizzou chat with Dave Matter

Bring your questions and comments about Mizzou sports, and talk to Post-Dispatch beat writer Dave Matter in a live chat starting at 11 a.m. Friday.

    OK, chatters. Let's get this chat going. Nothing else in the world is happening right now, right?
    I know you don't really cover the women's BB team (not enough clicks I assume) but I find them a nice counter to the sadness of watching the men. At any rate, your thoughts on Sophie Cunningham's freaky line against A&M? While playing through a bulging disc? Sheesh! Tough kid.
    She's really picked up her play since the start of SEC play. I thought she was pressing at times during nonconference play, probably because of the team's depth issues, but she's been great for the most part since conference play began. This is an NCAA bubble team. Can't afford any more bad home losses like the Bama game. I'll have a few women's hoops stories here in the next few months.
    Hi Dave. How can a B-Ball recruit possibly consider Mizzou when everyone knows the coach is getting canned? That is why he needs to go now before he runs off recruits and current players. Calling out Puryear in public along with his whipping on TV of Hughes means those two will be gone also. What a disaster! What are your reasons for letting him stay on again?
    Puryear's not going anywhere. What's wrong with holding players accountable. After the game Wednesday Anderson said players have to be more aware of how officials are calling the game and can't pick up two fouls in the opening minutes. There's nothing wrong with that. Calipari makes much stronger comments about his players all the time when they make mistakes. There's a spring signing period for recruiting. Whether Missouri fires Anderson now or after the season, the program won't have a new coach hired until March. They're not going to lose any recruits in the meantime.
    As many know St Louis football has a strong 2018 class. Lovie Smith was here on Wednesday, Urban Meyer was seen making several stops in town yesterday (including a visit with Mizzou favorite Babb and Alabama coveted Big Mike) and Saban set to be in town next week...any chance Mizzou lands 2 of the Big 3 or you think Babb is the only shot?
    Why would Babb be the only player Missouri can sign? Odom and his coaches were at Parkway North today visiting Michael Thompson Jr. Ronnie Perkins at Lutheran North is a huge priority. Same with Trevor Trout at Chaminade. It doesn't sound like any of the high-profile 2018 kids are going to commit early in the process. Expect some late decisions, long drawn out recruiting adventures for these players. That's OK. This is what big-time recruiting is all about. It's a good sign that these local players are stacking up the scholarship offers. It's a unique time in St. Louis. Great situation for Missouri.

    As you know, the SEC is not a powerhouse basketball conference. Other than Kentucky and Florida maybe, I think Mizzou should be on par with the rest of the SEC programs for recruits, fan support, and overall success. In my opinion, with the right coach in place, Mizzou could and should easily be a top 5 job in SEC basketball. What are your thoughts?
    It should be, yes. Though you're seeing a stronger commitment to hoops at some of these other schools in the form of strong hires the last few years. Rick Barnes. Ben Howland. Avery Johnson. Mizzou has a strong arena that's as good as any in the SEC. The fan base is fickle but the potential is there to have a packed house and strong financial support. The local/regional recruiting base is strong enough to support a talented roster year after year. So, yes, it's a good job. But as we've learned, you need the right people in place for all those factors to create a great program.
    Is this considered to be the best recruiting class for St.Louis football ever? or has there been another class in the past that was this loaded?
    I assume your'e talking about the 2018 class, because the 2017 class is small and pretty average. If so, this 2018 core of St. Louis recruits is attracting as much attention from power five teams and high-profile power five teams that I can recall from my time on the beat. The state overall in 2004 was loaded with power conference recruits - though a handful of those players didn't live up to the expectations.
    how important is it for Odom to get commits from the stacked STL class this year? What does it say about future recruiting in the area if he comes up empty?
    Odom can strike out on the local recruiting scene and still survive IF he signs a bunch of productive players from elsewhere. Remember, the scoreboard doesn't care if you're from Missouri, Texas or Jupiter - as long as you win. Getting local kids is good for P.R. It's good for morale - until the season actually begins and coaches are measured by wins and losses, not stars and signees. In theory it should be easier to sign local players because you have proximity to home as a sales pitch, but sometimes you can't overcome the lure kids feel to leave home and make their own way somewhere else. Bottom line, you don't need St. Louis kids to win, but it eases a lot of concerns when you can hold off the Michigans and Ohio States and Miamis and Florida States when they cross into your border.
    Was the loss of Estes to Minnesota a complete shock, or were there signs of it coming? I don't think that's a huge loss on its own. but it looks like the East STL pipeline is coming to an end
    Not a shock at all. It was expected from the staff, especially once Jeff Thomas eliminated Missouri. There is some thought within the staff that freshman QB Micah Wilson and the 2018 QB targets are better suited to succeed Lock than Estes ever will be. And the last thing this staff needs is another East St. Louis player who doesn't see the field immediately (or at all) and lead to more complaints from across the river. That said, if they didn't think he was good enough to become MU's starting quarterback, why did they offer him a scholarship and accept his commitment? Well, duh. The staff wanted his close friend who happens to be a four-star receiver. And perhaps the staff thought they could eventually convince Estes to change positions. But Missouri has moved on. Estes has committed to Minnesota and Thomas has trimmed his options to Oregon, Miami and Louisville.
    Any sense of what the current players from East STL think about all the bad press regarding MU and East STL?
    Not really, but judging by his tweets Tre'Vour Simms is happy at Missouri. I've never gotten the sense that Beckner is upset about anything at Missouri. The "bad press" came from Thomas when he said he didn't want to go to Missouri because of the playing time issues for other ESL players, and then continued with Sunkett on the radio with a few comments he made about Odom's efforts. Internally, Missouri feels good about its approach. Howard Richards, newly hired as MU's assistant AD to help with the outreach efforts in St. Louis, will make it a priority to soothe some relations in the St. Louis area. It's a concern for him. Personally, I never quite understand these "issues." You didn't hear about there being issues when Missouri was winning division titles under Gary Pinkel and playing in January bowl games. You only hear about these murmurs of STL discontent after a losing season. And you don't hear the same complaints from other parts of the state and, frankly, from other schools in the St. Louis area. I know a lot of coaches in the market and rarely, if ever, have I heard a bad word about MU's recruiting efforts. Kids decide to play for other schools, sometimes great programs in cases like Roderick Johnson and Zeke Elliott, and Missouri is portrayed as having major problems. Is Illinois getting the same scrutiny today for missing out on Thomas and Estes, who are actually in-state recruits for the Illini? It's a weird cycle that we see in this market.
    As the season has developed, any of the potential Bball coaching candidates that you think have fallen away? I think Pat Kelsey from Winthrop may be building a resume that should be worthy of consideration. Thoughts?
    I've always been impressed with Kelsey. The crowd that wants a big name who the average fan will recognize won't agree, but Missouri's next coach needs some sizzle but mostly substance. A big name will get fans back in the seats - but they won't stay long if he doesn't produce results.
    I think Mizzou is a top 50 basketball job even with all of its issues. I've heard coaches also think its a good job so do you think Mizzou will go with an up and coming coach or a coach from a high major program?
    It's really impossible to know at this point. If I had a better feel for Sterk then maybe I'd have more insight, but he's kept an incredibly low profile since he's been hired. Put it this way, I've had far more contact with MU's last two ADs in the last six months than I have Sterk. That said, I don't think there's one clear formula you need for this job. There are some intriguing up-and-coming mid-major head coaches who could have success here and some more established coaches with high-major experience who could win at Mizzou.
    What HAS happened to Frankie Hughes? I realize he is just a kid (he looks like a junior high school student) but he started off the year like gangbusters and now it seems he has forgotten how to shoot the basketball, tossing some real bricks (cinderblocks?!) at the hoop.
    For one, let's write off the Alabama A&M game when he scored a bunch of points. That might have been the worst Division I team MU has played in ... maybe ever. (They're 1-15.) Now, Hughes did shoot well in the OT loss to Xavier, but that was clearly the outlier. When he gets his feet set and doesn't rush his form, Hughes has a decent looking shot. He doesn't always have the  best decision-making. I think he can score more by attacking the basket and drawing contact. He doesn't look to pass a whole lot either. There are some obvious skills there, but he needs development.
    Hey Dave, if you were to pick 5 players that you felt would be the most beneficial for the basketball team to build around next year (5 guys that would hurt the most to lose to transfer), who would you pick? It feels like the most upside/complete roster would come from Phillips, Geist, Barnett, Puryear, Smith (if healthy) going into the future, but I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.
    There's not exactly a lot of great options. Phillips is clearly the one returning player who's shown the most growth. He's improved as a shooter, ball-handler and defender. He's No. 1 on my list. Barnett has skills. He just needs to figure out his role. Is he a spot-up shooter? Is he a slasher? Puryear is not a No. 1 option for a good team. He's too much of a tweener size-wise. But he has the skills to be a productive piece to a good team. I think Hughes has more upside than Walton because of his shooting potential. Walton just has no faith in his jumper. Just too one-dimensional for now. Then I guess you go with Smith. He's got to get stronger. If he's not going to bulk up and become a back-to-the-basket player, then he needs to develop an effective mid-range jumper.
    In the (likely) event Missouri is in the market for a basketball coach in a few months, does the presence of Sterk as the AD make Missouri a “better job” than when Alden was the boss making the hire? It seems to have been suggested that Alden had a poor reputation in basketball coaching circles.
    I've heard those rumblings. Some people thought Mike was too much of a micromanager with his basketball coaches. If true, I'm sure that came from his time being Quin Snyder's boss. Quin needed to be micromanaged because he struggled to manage the daily demands of running a program. He was habitually late to everything. Staffers in the athletic department had to drive him around town and I've heard numerous stories that reflect just how quirky, unstable and disorganized he was. So, that could explain why Alden didn't give his hoops coaches the same leash he gave Gary Pinkel. (That much I've learned through this book project I'm doing with Gary. He and Alden had a strong working relationship, but Alden let him run the program the way he wanted to run it.) Now, does that mean Sterk will be able to attract better options? Perhaps, but I'm not sure we really know enough about Sterk to fully answer that. He had a spotty history of hiring coaches in the revenue sports at Washington State and San Diego State.
    Most beat writers (yourself included) do a really good job of remaining objective with the team they are covering, as is part of their job. However, doesn't it strike you as odd that every coach interviewed after playing Mizzou is complimentary of Kim Anderson and the job he is doing? I know it gets repetitive and you keep hearing, "They don't give up," "He's brought this program a ways from where it was," etc., but I guess I write that off as coachspeak. Is that the same way you interpret it? Also, the ESPNU analysts (both in-game and postgame) were complimentary of Anderson, saying that he just needs more time, and it wouldn't do good to let him go after this year. Other reasons they gave were that he's a perfect fit for the job, and he's a "Missouri guy". (I don't agree with those statements necessarily, but I'm not Jim Sterk.) Do these statements leave you puzzled at all? Are these analysts saying this because they don't see the program as closely as we do? Or are they just refraining from saying anything overly negative?
    I wouldn't lump coaches and analysts in the same class. Here's why: The SEC Network/ESPN analysts work for the league and probably see themselves in some way as working for the coaches. They'll never say a negative thing about any coach in the conference. When a coach struggles, they go over the top with their praise. Some of these analysts clearly do such superficial homework on the teams they cover that they don't have a full grasp of the situation like the beat writers or local fans share. As for the other coaches, I think most of them genuinely like Kim, for the same reason most people who know Kim genuinely like him. He's kind, he's down to earth, he's self-depracting, he's admirable in just about every way. And almost every SEC coach who plays Missouri gets to watch his team beat up on Kim's teams, and I think some of them genuinely feel bad for the guy because his situation is so bleak. Most of these coaches know and understand Missouri's basketball history. Because Norm Stewart is so involved with national organizations, like Coaches vs. Cancer, current coaches have strong feelings about the guy - and his apprentice. I'm sure some coaches would love to see Kim stay at Missouri and the program stay at the bottom of the standings, but most of these guys genuinely like each other and are earnest in their comments.
    Anything from Sterk's time at SDSU that may suggest his approach in hiring a coach? Granted, this is the SEC compared to the Mountain West...
    Ben Frederickson touched on this very topic as well as I can manage off the top of my head. 
    What will happen first? A) Missouri Final Four appearance B) Missouri CWS appearance C) Missouri in a "National Semifinal" Bowl D) Kanye West's Inauguration
    Well, considering two years ago this week our newly inaugurated 45 was firing Lorenzo Lamas on "The Apprentice" I might be inclined to go with D. Stranger things have happened. More seriously, though, I guess I'll go with .... A? If you can have a top 25 basketball team, you're in the tournament. And then it's all about matchups and how you play in four games on neutral courts to reach the Final Four. To reach the CWS, you also have to be among the nation's top 64 teams, but you either have to have such a strong season that you host a regional or you play on a really good team's home field. Then comes a super regional, likely on the home field of another really good team. I'd say Missouri's baseball program is a long way from reaching Omaha. As for football, you've got to have an elite regular season and if not win the SEC championship, go 11-1 and hope for some help elsewhere. If the playoff structure were in place in 2007 and 2013, Missouri would have been really close.
    Everyone on STLToday, seems to be pushing for Mike Anderson's ouster. And I agree it's bad right now, but you have to admit this young team hasn't given up since getting to conference play. I've watched the games on the various channels they've aired on but the announcers all say the same thing. "Mike Anderson needs time." This wasn't a quick fix team I think given one more year they'll finally show the progress everyone has been waiting to see. I'd hate for them to fire Anderson this year if they are poised to turn it around next year. These guys just need to learn how to play a full 40 minutes, remember they are the 7th youngest team in the nation. Do you think its a foregone conclusion Anderson is out? And who do you think would want to come to Missouri and face the mess that is the university, that would be able to improve things? Why would they want to?
    I think you mean Kim Anderson. I would be surprised if he's the coach next year. This program is in really bad shape. He got the roster he wanted, all players he recruited, and MU has gotten worse. This is a historically bad stretch. Empty seats fill Mizzou Arena. Recruits are leaving the state in droves.
    Hi, Dave. Really enjoy your coverage of Mizzou Sports. Aside from women's basketball and volleyball, the wrestling team, and the swim and dive teams, Missouri athletics seems like a big mess. How did Mizzou get itself in such horrible shape? Thanks
    How much time do you have? The two high-profile programs are struggling, no doubt. I wouldn't put football in basketball's category. There's a lot more to be hopeful about with football right now, though it's no given Odom will make the Tigers relevant again in the SEC. As for hoops, how did it happen? Coaching hires, roster turnover, recruiting mistakes. It's not that difficult to diagnose.

    Keats at UNC Wilmington has to be first, or near the top, of Sterk's working list for new coaches. His pedigree is exceptional, and his performance as a head coach has been amazing. What would be some reasons missouri doesn't at least go after him, let alone hire him?
    I agree that his credentials are in line with what Sterk should be looking for. That doesn't mean it will happen. Does he want to coach in the SEC or in the Midwest? A lot of good jobs, some better than Missouri, some similar, come open every year. I don't really see any negatives that would scare away a high-major program, but I think there will be competition depending on the jobs that are vacant.
    I know his name was linked to numerous recent jobs like Oregon and Utah, but do you know if Randy Bennett was ever officially offered those jobs in the past?
    There was a report last year that he turned down an interview for the UNLV job, but I don't know how accurate that is.
    Would Will Wade's age work against him with Missouri trying to stabilize the basketball program?
    He just turned 34. That's really young. But he's been on five Division I staffs and has done a nice job at VCU so far. You've got to have a really good feel for his potential when you hire a coach that young - or get some really strong recommendations from more proven coaches who know him well.
    Hey Dave,

    Regarding Mizzou Football, are there any 3* or 4* recruits that are under the radar that could still potentially flip or sign like Crockett last year? Have any names to keep an eye out far?
    Also, looks good for Mizzou that guys like Brooks, Armstrong, and Gardiner are reaffirming commitments to Mizzou.
    Gardiner still plans to visit Texas, so I wouldn't say he's reaffirmed anything. Don't be seduced by tweets. Missouri's got a challenge from the Horns on this one. Otherwise, there are still a few D-linemen out there Missouri is pursuing. D-end Zion Debose is probably the highest regarded of the uncommitted players still on MU's radar. He's also considering Pitt and some others.

    Does Forbes, coach at East Tennessee State, does his involvement with Pearl's NCAA violations at Tennessee, would that make Missouri shy away from giving him consideration as new head coach? Wasn't Howland's infractions at UCLA was enough to scare Missouri away?
    Howland didn't have infractions - just some bad P.R. And it was pretty mild. Some of the LA AAU programs had some frustrations with him, but Missouri was worried about the optics of the Sports Illustrated story that uncovered some of the issues Howland had with a handful of players. Forbes was fired because of what unfolded at Tennessee under their watch, but I think enough time has passed that his baggage is much lighter. Forbes had only a one-year show-cause. He coached at Wichita State for a couple years and was given his own D-I program at East Tennessee State. I assume his Tennessee gig will always come up in any job interview he has for the rest of his career, but I doubt it's a deal-breaker.

    According to my count, Missouri basketball should have two available scholarships after this season with the departure of Willie Jackson? Am I correct? Also, I can't imagine VanLeer staying, and I think one of the two, if not both, of Hughes and Walton are gone.

    With 4-5 scholarships suddenly available after this season, a quick turnaround is not out of the question. But, half of those at a minimum must be used on JUCO post players. Our post situation is already dire, and I am not counting on either Nikko or Smith to produce next year considering their injuries.

    Any JUCO post players on which to keep an eye?
    Too early for me to speculate on who might or might not leave. Those players have no idea what they'll do and won't know until they know who the next coach will be. Yes, there will be at minimum two available scholarships.
    Yeah, I meant Kim Anderson. Although Mike Anderson is another coach the beat writers at stltoday turned on towards the end. Do sports writers do this type of thing to make transition easier for the fans to accept?
    Turned on Mike Anderson? I don't really recall that happening. He got some criticism for the way he handled his departure, when he didn't face the media and snuck out of Mizzou Arena when it was surrounded by reporters looking for him. But that was fair criticism at the time.
    Hi Dave, do you think Brad Stevens would be a good option to replace KA? It would likely take some Walmart $ to pry him away from Boston, but he's a "Midwest Guy", and we might as well shoot for the stars? Ive also compared Sophie Cunningham to Larry Bird, so maybe I'm not being realistic?
    I'm going to assume this is a serious question. Now, seriously, ask yourself why would someone in the middle of a $22 million contract with an NBA playoff team - one of the historic franchises in all of sports - leave for the college program that for three years running has been the worst in the SEC if not all of the six major conferences?
    It seems as though everyone on the BB team is afraid of doing something wrong. The shots are forced and they seem to be very confused on the floor. They just need to relax and have fun playing.
    Easier said than done. It's no fun losing.
    OK, folks. That's all for me today. Enjoy your weekend.
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