Mizzou chat with Dave Matter

Mizzou chat with Dave Matter

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




    Welcome, chatters. Thanks for joining me again this week. I just got back from a media gathering with Cuonzo Martin to discuss a broad range of topics. More from that session will be on the site after the chat. But I'm here for the next couple hours to take all your questions, starting ... now
    Do you expect to see a “blocking back” used in the red zone much this season? I’m thinking of the Sam Bailey role from last season.
    Also with the departure of Crockett I wonder if Downing will see much action behind Rountree and Badie? When games are secure I’d protect Rountree by sitting him. Even if it’s early in second half.
    I wouldn't expect the offensive structure to change very much from last season, and they'll have some designated blockers for those downhill running plays, probably an extra tight end. Daniel Parker Jr. can handle that role. I'm sure they'll take a look at some other blocking specialists in preseason camp. 
    Yes, once games are secure, I agree it would be wise to rest Rountree. He's the most indispensable player on this team who's not a quarterback. Badie will get touches. Bakare is in line for a bigger role. Freshman running back Anthony Watkins might prove to be someone who can handle carries. The staff loves Downing, but the two freshman backs clearly passed him last season when it comes to getting carries. 
    Do you see the new shortened shotclock rule after an offensive rebound affecting Mizzou hoops negatively with Cuonzo's slower pace of play?
    Not necessarily. He's not exclusively set on playing at a slow pace all the time. His Cal and Tennessee teams played faster at times. With more options in the backcourt this year I think you'll see MU play faster on occasion. They'll have more athletes who can create plays off the dribble, players who don't need a series screens or more structure to get open looks at the basket. Pinson was more decisive as a lead guard when he started playing more in the second half of the season, and when your primary ball handler is more aggressive at creating the action, and doing less probing and dribbling in the backcourt, you suddenly play with more pace - and I think you'll see some of that this year with Pinson and Dru Smith handling the ball.
    Seems like during a previous chat, you ranked the Mizzou QBs you've covered. Then I was looking at your story about running backs the other day and thought, I wonder if Dave has ever ranked the running backs? Gotta be at least a top 10, right?
    Good question, let me think. My first season covering Mizzou was 1998, so I'll start there:
    1. Devin West. Not the fastest, but incredible combo of power and vision. 
    2. Henry Josey. Elite speed before his injury and still super productive after surgery.
    3. Larry Rountree. If he can find another gear he can go down as the program's best ever.
    4. Tony Temple. Perfect back for the spread. 
    5. Marcus Murphy. Lethal receiver, grew into a dangerous north-south runner.
    6. Damarea Crockett. Injuries were a problem but productive when healthy.
    7. Zack Abron. Larry Smith called him a "bowling ball of butcher knives," capitalized on Brad Smith's threat in the backfield. 
    7. Derrick Washington. Career took an ugly turn but had two solid years.
    8. Kendial Lawrence. Somehow managed a 1,000-yard season on an offense without much of a passing threat. 
    9. Russell Hansbrough. Made the most out of a smaller frame.
    10. Ish Witter. Took a pounding early in his career then developed into true vertical threat. 
     
    Missed the cut: Jimmy Jackson, Damien Nash, Zain Gilmore, De'Vion Moore
    Are you a soccer guy?. Have your kids been bitten by the soccer bug yet?. I'm concerned that American football has peaked and will see a very slow steady decline due mom's and dad's not letting kids play the game. Have any of your conversations with sports personnel at Mizzou or elsewhere addressed this topic?. Or is the discussion mostly around concussion prevention and education?
    I'm not much of a soccer guy. My kids play rec league, but they don't follow the professional leagues. College soccer isn't really on my radar as a sportswriter, probably because Mizzou doesn't have a men's team and the women's team hasn't been very newsworthy - and unfortunately for the program - plays the same time of year as the most newsworthy of teams. The concussion issue should be a concern just based off the numbers I've seen, but I can't say I'm by any means an expert.
    With Badie being more of a small scat back, do you think his role will change much to where he ends up being potentially the number 1 back in the rotation or is he always a change of pace guy?
    We haven't really seen him have to take on the role of lead back, though he was the only back on the field for the game-winning drive at Purdue. That's obviously a small sample size, but that indicated the staff has faith in him to carry the ball (and catch the ball and block) on a game's most crucial drive. He's not much smaller than other backs we've seen have big roles on this team. Ideally you replace Rountree with another bigger back like Rountree who can absorb contact and be a dynamic runner, but I don't know if they have another one of those on the current roster.
    What is the latest into the appeal by Mizzou over the football post season ban. Seems that would be a priority as that affects Mizzou and SEC ticket sales. I will be going to a few games but I imagine that if there is no endgame (see what I did) then excitement and interest may be sparser than usual.
  • I'm not sure I get that logic. If Mizzou is having a decent season, say on pace to win nine games, you think fewer fans will go to regular-season games in November because they might not get to play in the Citrus Bowl? I look at the decision to attend a game more as an individual game and its overall fan experience for that moment in time, not necessarily as some kind of investment for a future outcome. If the team is good, playing well and is entertaining to watch in person, would someone consciously decide not to attend a home game against Florida or Tennessee because there won't be a bowl game? I'd be surprised if a lot of fans make their decision like that - and if they do, I don't understand why they would. 
    As for the appeal, MU will make its in-person appeal at a hearing in Indianapolis some time in July and hopes/expects to have a final ruling in the fall, maybe as early as late August but probably some time in September. 
    How is Mizzous strength and conditioning coach & program viewed/ranked in the SEC?. Off season workouts are ruled by these guys and I don't believe these guys get as much recognition as deserved. One of the few that I read about in the recruiting circles is Mickey Mariotti from Ohio State and his impact on getting recruits on campus and developing them while there. Thoughts,?
    I'm not really sure how to objectively measure MU's program versus the others in the SEC when I'm only around one team. It's easy to say Alabama has the best strength and conditioning program because its team is the best in the league - but Bama also recruits the best players. Same for Ohio State in the Big Ten or Clemson in the ACC. I really don't think recruits are making their decision based on a school's strength program. Elite teams have good strength programs because that's an essential part of having a good team - and kids want to play for elite teams. 
    I thought Missouri did a great job developing players physically in the Pinkel years, and Pat Ivey deserves a lot of credit for that. Odom's staff - and strength coach Rohrk Cutchlow, hasn't had the same amount of time to really establish himself and produce year-after-year results, but if you want a small snapshot, I think it's impressive what he's done with MU's O-linemen and how that position group has developed over the last three years. 
    No Brock Olivo? The one on the Mizzou ring of fame?
    Yes, Brock's final year was 1997, one year before I started covering the team. I've written a lot about Brock over the years and he wrote the foreword for my last book, but I was only ranking running backs from 1998-2019.
  • I'll keep an open mind about Dru Smith and I'll hope for the best next season. But ... he played at Evansville, which was just a so-so Valley team while he was there, and he didn't produce the type of stats that would justify the level of hype that seems to be accompanying him to Mizzou. Can you give me a sales pitch on this transfer?
    I think you need to go back and look at those stats from Evansville. Yes, it was Evansville. The team wasn't particularly good and the level of competition wasn't as good as the SEC. As a sophomore he shot 48.3 percent from 3-point range. That's elite. That'll play in any league. He averaged 4.6 assists. He assisted on 36.3 percent of Evansville's scoring - and shot nearly 50 percent from 3. That's hard to do at any college level. And here's what might be most promising: It's his defense that Martin always mentions first when asked about his strengths. 
    I understand some of the hype might be over the top ... but this didn't come from the coaches until AFTER he got to campus and started playing against Martin's current players. They've seen him every day in practice - and were convinced he would have been the team's best player last season were he available. And I heard that from the staff BEFORE Jontay Porter got hurt. Months later, they're not backing down from their expectations. 
    Any idea where KJ and Christian landed? Ronnie?
    I have not seen or heard if any of them have signed with a new school yet.
    With John Beilein leaving Michigan for the NBA do you think we will see more and more experienced successful college basketball coaches in their 50"s and 60"s look to the NBA as they get tired of trying to recruit and communicate with 16-19 year olds ?
    I'm not sure we'll see more, but I understand the temptation for those coaches who have options. The transfer issue has made it more difficult than ever to build a roster year after year. Cuonzo brought that up this morning when asked if he had any interest in a grad transfer this offseason. He said not really because, for one, he likes his backcourt and doesn't want to "stockpile" players at one position just because there's one available on the market. Because if you do that, "now you have unhappy guys, especially in today’s game where guys transfer on a dime," he said. A couple weeks ago I talked to Cuonzo about the hiring trend of former NBA players getting college jobs without college coaching experience. In the NBA, you're just coaching. It's all about basketball. In college, the job is more 24-7 and involves a lot more than drawing up plays. That's appealing for some, but maybe not for a guy like Beilein who just wants to coach the game. 
     
     
    Is this 2019 team all Odom's players? Just curious as unless there are redshirt seniors or players that Pinkel recruited but still stayed on with Odom, this is his team, right? Are all starters players that Odom recruited himself or still a small part are the Pinkel era?
    There are some redshirt seniors who joined the program in Gary's final year but redshirted as freshmen in 2015: Johnathon Johnson, Frank Agbasimere, Justin Smith, Tyrell Jacobs, Ronnell Perkins, Richaud Floyd, 
    Then there are juniors and seniors who committed under Pinkel but he retired before they got to campus: Trystan Colon-Castillo, Tre Williams (currently suspended), Albert Okwuegbunam, Christian Holmes, Tucker McCann, DeMarkus Acy.
    Otherwise everyone else on the roster, as far as scholarship players, committed/signed after Odom took over as head coach. 
    So, if the season started today, there would  be at least two starters who signed under Pinkel - Johnson and Perkins - and five who committed under Pinkel but have only played under Odom: Castillo, Albert O, Holmes, Acy, McCann
    You interviewed Tilmon a few weeks (months?) back and he talked about the need to bring in money for his family. From that interview/article, I get the sense that this is his last year in Columbia. Do you think that's a fair assessment?
  • Hard to say. I'm sure he would like it to be his last year, because that means he'll have done enough by this time next year to be invited to the NBA combine and have some security that he'll be drafted. Now, just because you stay in the draft as an underclassmen (junior or younger) means you're going to get drafted and making the best decision. There are close to 90 underclassmen staying in this year's draft - with only 60 spots in the draft. Clearly there are some misguided decisions being made. Like most players in his position, Tilmon wants to start earning money as a pro. I think it's fortunate for him that somewhere, somehow his application to the NBA was fouled up. He needs another year in the college game. Will he be ready in a year? Let's see how his junior year unfolds.
    Following up on the Tilmon/pro response - while I'm not discounting the NBA, there are other options to make money playing basketball. Particularly if his foul troubles persist, I'd think he might consider the G league as a better preparation mechanism over a senior year. Is that anything you discussed or got a feel for when you spoke with him?
    He made it clear that for his junior year it was NBA or college. Now, a year from now, maybe he'll feel differently. But it's  not like the players who are leaving college early this spring made that decision because they want to play in the G League. They're all planning to play in the NBA. Some of those players are getting bad advice or just ignoring their advice. It's not unlike Damarea Crockett. His NFL evaluation advised him to stay in school. He essentially told me he didn't believe the evaluation and believed he'd get drafted. What happened? He went undrafted. Maybe he still makes a roster this fall and has a productive career - and maybe he wouldn't have been drafted in 2020 hd he stayed in school. 
    Also, back to the NBA Martin made a great point today: G League salaries are only $35,000 a year. And they're taxed. A Mizzou scholarship plus cost of attendance is worth close to $30,000. Yes, college players have to attend classes and they're not paid in cash directly, but the travel accommodations and facilities are better at the college level than they are in the G League. So, players in Tilmon's position have to take all those factors into consideration. 
    Dave: If you'll permit me, I need to rant about the NCAA. This new rule about resetting the shot clock to 20 seconds is, to me, just another example of the NCAA not understanding it's own game. The problems with scoring and pace of play are not a function of the shot clock whatsoever. How do we know? Well, you can look at stats from the pre-shot clock era of the 70's and see that teams scored plenty. You can look at the 80s and the 45 second shot clock and see that teams scored plenty.

    The problems that the college game has result from: 1) the one-and-done rule, and the rise of transfer numbers, both of which work against developing cohesion and sophistication on offense; 2) the inability of referees to control the physicality of play, which often results in bodying out shooters; 3) the on-going legacy of AAU basketball, which has destroyed American players' understanding of how to run offense as a team.

    If the NCAA wants the product to be better, it needs to work with the NBA to let high schoolers jump to the pros, adopt the baseball rule of players who choose college not being draft eligible for three years, address the officiating problems, and develop rules about summer player that limit AAU participation. Those, of course, are all hard decisions and tasks, and the NCAA is not typically up to such actions unless they can smell more money heading their way.
    I would agree with all your points. At the same time, I don't think shortening the shot clock after an offensive rebound will harm the current game. It's more of a band-aid than a long-term fix, but in the short term, that's all the NCAA can do for now. The one-and-done rule will be gone in a couple years. I'm not sure what kind of legislation we'll ever see to impede transferring. As long as these coaches can hop from school to school I don't like restricting the athletes from doing the same. I think a bigger concern than losing the obvious one-and-done talents is the college game's exodus of quality players who are never going to cut it in the NBA. It's not good for the college game for 90 underclassmen to enter a draft that has only 60 picks. Those players should be allowed to re-enroll in college after the draft - though that only makes roster-building more difficult for coaches who have to hold off on finalizing their roster until late June. I'm not sure there are any perfect remedies to improve the game, but again, I don't mind shortening the shot clock. There's nothing fun about watching 30 seconds of dribbling.
    Dave, to your point on the G League I know at least the away team locker rooms aren't the greatest. I play hockey in Dallas at the facility the Stars practice at and Texas Legends play at. They ran out of locker rooms so they put us in the away team G League locker rooms. Small and cramped. I would rather stay in college than play G League.
    This is true for the NBA and the NFL, too. Most college players at a Power 5 program will probably never have a better weight room, training facility, locker room than they had in college. The colleges feel they need to spruce up those facilities to attract recruits. That's obviously not the same in the pros where players are drafted without a choice in the matter. And once players hit free agency in either sport, they're not deciding between teams based on weight room decor.
    Which player is hurt most by moving the 3 line back? Strictly on percentages from 18/19 it looks like it would be Pickett or Watson, but I don't think stats tell the whole story there. Also, will the move free up Tilmon to operate at all or is that just wishful thinking?
    Coaches seem to think the change will mostly benefit, at least on offense, guys who can penetrate off the dribble because other defenders will be extended a few feet to guard the 3-point line. That's good news for Pinson. Will it clear up the lane for Tilmon? Perhaps. Pickett might not have the same kind of range as Mark Smith or Watson, but I wouldn't put it past him to spend next few months working harder than anyone to add some length to his shot. I think the freshmen will have the biggest learning curve with the new 3-point lane just because they're already have to get accustomed to being defended by longer, more physical college players.
    What's up with Illinois football all of a sudden getting all these fairly highly ranked commits? Seems a little fishy to me since they can't hardly win any games and Smith has been there for a few years now. I know they hired the Trinity Catholic coach but I wouldn't think he would make that big of difference. Also, MU doesn't seem to be able to land any of the Trinity Catholic guys for some reason... Even with an old mizzou player being the coach now. Seems like is maybe some stigma with mizzou for them..
  • I can't speak to what's going on at Illinois, but I've known Trinity coach Terrence Curry for a long time and talked to him just a few few weeks ago about recruiting. Here's what he had to say:
    "I tell my kids all the time I want them to go to the school that’s best for them. Being a Mizzou guy, all I can do is share my experiences there, that it was a great place and tell them the benefits. If they like it they like it. If they don’t I can’t twist their arms. At the end of the day I want my guys where they can thrive academically, socially and athletically. Everybody’s not a Mizzou guy. At the same time if my kids go to Mizzou or not, I’m always going to root for the Tigers on Saturday when I’m watching football and whatever school my kids go to I’ll be rooting for them."
    I asked him specifically about Odom and his staff's efforts in St. Louis. Curry and Odom overlapped for one season at MU.  
    "They’re doing a good job. St. Louis football has changed from the time I was being recruited. We had a nice number of athletes, but you look at it now at my school we had 13 players to go college last year. That’s probably half of the number that went to college in my whole 1999 class. You think about the dynamics of St. Louis football getting so good. If coach Odom keeps getting athletes out of here, stays at it, it’ll keep getting better for him. At the end of the day, it’s a numbers game sometimes and they might not have a need for a certain guy. But they’re doing a way better job and it’s going in the right direction getting St. Louis kids."
    As for Illinois, Lovie should be a good recruiter. The product isn't great now, but he can promise opportunity. From the few interactions I've had with him over the years, I can see kids wanting to play for him and their parents liking him. But like any coach, if they don't start winning soon, he's not going to last. 
  • Dave, speaking of Locker rooms, what is the best and worst away team Locker room you have seen in all of sports?
  • Here's something I don't think a lot of people realize: We don't see the locker rooms in college. The NCAA has a rule that players/coaches get a "cooling off" period after games before interviews begin and at every place I've covered a game, interviews are held in a separate room.
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