Good afternoon, Mizzou chatters. The quiet summer is officially over. So much going on and so much I'm sure you'll want to discuss. At least no one has to ask when Jontay Porter will reclassify. Instead of a football blog post today, I'll share some notes and thoughts from today's media session during the chat. Practice was closed to reporters but we visited with defensive players after practice.
The last time Mizzou had five guys 6-10 or taller was 1995-96. One of the five was a walk-on, 6-10 Dustin Reeve. The others were the 7-foot Haley twins, Sammie and Simeon, Monte Hardge (6-11) and Derrick Grimm (6-10). That team was just 18-15, finished sixth in the Big Eight and played in the NIT. Not one of Norm's better teams by any means. The bigs on the 17-18 team have more upside when you talk about the Porters and Tilmon, especially. Though I think Reed Nikko will get minutes for this team and have a role.
I'm not the best person to answer this because I'm not at the games to party and tailgate when I'm at Memorial Stadium or road venues, so I probably don't measure the atmosphere the same way the fans measure the atmosphere. That said, from my perspective, the atmosphere at Mizzou games was pretty damn electric for the conference games in 2013-14 when the Tigers were contenders in the Division. Not so much in 2015 or 2016. I've been to all the stadiums in the East and four in the West (Arkansas, Texas A&M, LSU, Ole Miss). The other stadium atmospheres can run hot and cold depending on how things are going for their team, but generally you get a pretty raucous environment everywhere in the SEC, outside of Vandy, where the stadium is smaller and the fan base isn't as strong.
Do we need to be ready? It's only August.
I'm not sure how much Cuonzo and his staff will use analytics. Kim Anderson's staff dabbled in the technology when studying shot selection and player efficiency.
Well, yes, if they're really good on defense and in the kicking game this team should contend for the SEC East, but I'm not sold on that actually happening. The offense is full of experience and some established players, but it HAS to be better in league games. Mizzou only averaged 22 points a game against SEC defenses last year. For all the criticism the defense absorbed last year - and rightfully so - the offense wasn't nearly good enough in most SEC games. Lots of empty yards and a bunch of individual statistical milestones, but this team probably needs to to score 30 points a game in league play to have a better than average season. I'm still not sold on the defense. Can it become a top-six defense in the SEC? Odom is much more content with his staff and the scheme going into the season, but it's all about players and talent. Is there enough up front? Are there playmakers at linebacker and in the secondary? Is there enough depth to withstand the inevitable injuries? We'll find out soon enough.
A donor could probably answer this better than me because I assume Mike and Jim approach those relationships different than they would with a reporter. Mike did an outstanding job raising money at Mizzou and putting the department in position to become an SEC program. When you're in office as long as he was, over time you run into obstacles, some self-inflicted, that might impact relationships with donors. Sterk has the luxury of working on a clean slate. So, I'm not sure it's fair to measure Sterk's first 12 months with Alden's 17 years. That said, Sterk's persona is perfect for the current state of Mizzou athletics. The department needed a leader, someone who's decisive, someone who can close the deal. But that leader also needed to be someone who puts his ego aside and can relate to people with a genuine, personable approach. That's Sterk. On the surface he's unassuming and wholesome. If you didn't know better, he's Ned Flanders. But put him on the job for a year and you find out he's the Terminator. He gets stuff done and doesn't waste a lot of time doing it.
I would think Cunningham will play in the WNBA. She's not the most athletic player, but if she continues to work on her outside shot she'll be skilled enough to play professionally. There are no current WNBA players from Mizzou at last check.
I visited with sophomore safety Ronnel Perkins today. He's missed all of preseason camp with a strained hamstring that he hurt about a month ago. At this point, it doesn't sound like he'll return anytime soon. "Should be ready for the first game, but we want to take it slow so it’s not something that lasts the whole season," he said. I thought Perkins was MU's best safety last year, which isn't saying much because the position group struggled to make an impact most of the season, especially against the run. He was the group's best tackler. Missouri needs him if this secondary is going to improve from what we saw last year.
I wouldn't measure a coach's football IQ off his TV interviews. Barry knows defensive football. He might not share his thoughts publicly, especially in a TV interview, but he knows the game. At Memphis he earned respect for the way he was able to develop pressure packages that gave most opponents trouble. Hugh Freeze made a comment last year that Odom was one of the game's best defensive minds when it comes to building a gameplan and calling plays/coverages.
Yes. This team went all in for 2017-18. You only get Porter Jr. for one year. You had Jontay Porter reclassify so he can help this team do something memorable. You bring in Kassius Robertson so he can add perimeter scoring for this year and this year alone. Obviously there will be holdover players from this team that return the following season, but nobody's going to talk about this upcoming season as a bridge to 2018-19. You can't settle for the NIT when you've landed two one-year rentals in Porter Jr. and Robertson.
I'm not that well-versed in the particulars of the loan process, but it's always been explained to me that athletics borrows money from the university's general funds and pays back the loan with revenue generated from the project.
Yes. Porter Jr. isn't a traditional forward. He'll spend more time on the perimeter than in the paint. MPJ can play the 3, Jontay Porter can play the 4 and Tilmon can play the 5. Now, Kevin Puryear will factor in the rotation, too, and likely start at the 4, but this roster has so many possibilities for lineups and rotations.
Yes. Odom, Heupel, Hill and Drew Lock are all saying the same things about slot receiver Johnathon Johnson. He's mature. He's a serious competitor. He knows the playbook in and out and has become the leader of the group. Lock was emphatic yesterday talking about Johnson's role in the offense. Drew has a good sense for those inner-offense dynamics that go on within his side of the ball.
South Carolina is the ultimate pivot game. If you win that game and sweep the nonconference games you have to go 2-5 the rest of the season to win seven games. If you lose at home to South Carolina, the margin for error shrivels up considerably. Now you have to not only sweep those four noncon games, you have to go 3-4 in the rest of the SEC games to reach seven wins. That means you have to beat some ranked teams at home (Auburn or Florida) or win multiple road games (Vandy, Kentucky, Georgia, Arkansas.) You beat South Carolina and you've got a great chance to be 3-0 and feeling pretty confident going into the Auburn game,the best team on the schedule. If you lose, now you're 1-1 with Purdue coming to town. Does one loss spill over and turn into two? This season is all about the Gamecocks. From there, those Florida and Tennessee home games are crucial. Winning one of those would be huge. Then I look at that game at Kentucky. The Cats are a rising program in the East. If you're a Kentucky fan you're counting that home game against Missouri as a win. UK has beaten MU two years in a row. With that and UK's momentum is stalled and it might keep them behind Mizzou in the East standings.
No telling. Rashad Brandon is at least on campus and attending practice. Odom is clearly frustrated that something came up with his eligibility since the spring, when he was cleared to practice. Malik Young has missed more than a week of camp. There's still a chance he gets cleared but no guarantee. Walter Palmore, who got cleared to practice late last week, was asked about Young's status today and declined comment.
I'm the beat writer, so no competition for me. I'll be at every game home and away most likely. The columnists might have to arm wrestle for columnist assignments for home games.
He's been enrolled since June and taking classes at Mizzou. If the season started tomorrow he'd be eligible to play. Your friend is Fake News.
It's more common for basketball recruits these days. Teki Gill-Caesar did the same thing three years ago when he enrolled at Mizzou a year early. A high school student only needs certain required courses to be NCAA eligible, and if you're diligent enough in the classroom (or in the Porters' case last year, the living room or kitchen table, wherever they held home school classes) then you can get ahead of schedule and complete those core classes so you can be eligible to enroll in college a year early. It's no different than a college student who earns his degree in less than four years. It takes some extra work but it's possible.
Could be, yes. But let's not forget MU only averaged 22 points a game vs. SEC competition last year. TD totals in their first five conference games went like this: 3, 1, 2, 3, 3. That's not going to cut it in this conference, especially with an average to below average defense. No coincidence, MU won two of its final three games when it scored 4, 5 and 4 touchdowns in the final three weeks. The line has to be better and more physical at the start of the season. Lock has to be more accurate against the more athletic defenses on the schedule. The receivers have to clean up the drops and fumbles. If all that happens - and they stay relatively healthy - this can be the best offense in the East and maybe rival Auburn or Alabama as the best in the SEC. But, that's not a given.