Mizzou chat with Dave Matter

Bring your questions and comments about Tigers football and basketball, and talk to Mizzou beat writer Dave Matter in a live chat starting at 2 p.m. Thursday.

  • Hello, chatters. Having a few technical difficulties at the CoMo P-D bureau. I'll get to your Mizzou questions here shortly.
  • Unspoken amid all the hoo-ha about the Porters and Cuonzo and Tilmon is the fact that Terrence Phillips still is the point guard. And not a very good one. Could Blake Harris beat him out? Could Jordan Geist? I've got this recurring nightmare that we've got Michael and Jontay and Puryear and Tilmon on the floor, and they're watching Phillips slash to the basket and miss ANOTHER lay-up.
  • I'm hearing some really positive buzz lately about Blake Harris. He's going to have a significant role as a point guard on this team. His athleticism is a plus at the position. He's going to make some freshman mistakes, but he's got considerable upside. Now, does that mean he starts over Phillips on Nov. 10? I don't know about that. Phillips brings value to the team because of his experience. But Harris will play. Also, Geist is very much in the plans for this year. The head coach and his staff like him. A lot. He's not flashy, but he's going to bring some toughness to the rotation. Don't forget, Cuonzo is old school. Yes, he's collected some shiny 5-stars, but he's a defensive-minded coach who values grit. Geist plays with the kind of edge this staff wants to see on the floor.
  • Hey, I haven't had a chance to update the site in about an hour. Mizzou football practiced this morning on Faurot Field. Another workout tomorrow, then the second scrimmage of camp will be Saturday. Mizzou’s staff will use the scrimmage to help determine which freshmen will play this season, but Barry Odom listed four who would all but likely see the field if the season started now: running back Larry Rountree III, defensive end Chris Turner, middle linebacker Jamal Brooks and safety Jordan Ulmer. Odom has mentioned tight end Logan Christopherson as another candidate to play this year as a freshman. I think you can count on those five probably seeing the field in some capacity, along with D-linemen Kobie Whiteside and maybe Akial Byers.
  • Hi Dave. Thanks for the time you put in on these chats.

    What name do Odom and staff use for the hybrid safety/linebacker position they're grooming Prewett for? Will he also play some straight safety?
  • It's just the SAM (strongside linebacker). If they're in a nickel defensive package, Prewett can stay on the field and become the nickelback - if he's indeed the No. 1 nickel when the season starts. He's not playing any traditional safety, only SAM linebacker and nickel.
  • My question pertains to the “stick to sports” debate. I want to get your take on at what point is it too much.

    I will never stop reading a sports journalist’s work based on their implied political leanings, so long as they are kept separate from the sports reporting/analysis/etc. I have always enjoyed your writing and find it to be very professional and thorough.

    That said, I noticed over the last week that several of your colleagues (as well as yourself to some extent) have been pretty open on social media with certain feelings toward the atrocities in Virginia and the reaction around the country. I believe any person with a shred of decency would agree that what happened was abhorrent. I don’t really have a dog in the race politically, I pretty much dislike both sides at this point and long for a day we can meet back in the middle. My problem though is that instead of focusing on the tragedy itself, it became a referendum on the president and other political figures. There was one tweet in particular that I saw recirculated by yourself and multiple PD journalists that seemed to accuse the president of being a white nationalist that I found particularly distasteful. I am no fan of the president, but I feel inflammatory tweets such as that only further divide and scare an already bitterly divided and scared country. I felt that was simply taking it too far.

    I guess I am in the group that just wishes sports journalists would “stick to sports” and not dive into the toxic dump that is political discourse in this country. Sports for me is a way to escape all of that and simply enjoy. I know everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I just wish that the two could be separate. Maybe that is impossible in this age with social media, maybe I am in the wrong for feeling that way. I just wanted to get it from the opinion of a sports journalist.

    Again, love your work, will continue to follow weekly.
  • Good question. First off, I work for the Post-Dispatch, not Twitter. My Mizzou sports coverage in the pages of the P-D and on these pages online have nothing to do with presidential politics and never have any leanings one way or the other. Social media is a different animal. If a Mizzou fan wants to follow me on Twitter, I'm under no obligation to censor my personal thoughts or feelings about politics, the weather, my favorite TV shows, food or the horrible things that happened in Virginia last week. I have liked or retweeted politically driven tweets, but I can probably count on one hand the orinigal tweets from my account that had anything to do with politics. And I've tweeted almost 55,000 times from that account. If somehow something I like or retweet on Twitter threatens someone else's worldview, well, guess what, that's not on me. This is one of the most fascinating aspects of social media: I follow 2,058 other Twitter accounts. And not once in nine years on Twitter have I ever told one of those 2,058 Twitter account holders what I want to see or not see coming from their account. I can't process this audacity to censor or request to censor someone's social media account that is free to follow or unfollow.
  • Would Howard have played significant snaps this year, or would it be a relatively small blow to lose him?
  • dave,
    thanks for the chat as usual. last year at this time if you listened to the various interviews during camp you could hear some of the player dissatisfaction, especially in regards to the defense. i remember specifically hearing jackie shipp and cross talking about getting buy-in, the subtext being of course there wasn't much if any. this year, the talk is decidedly different. even more there is a lot of talk of family, unity, pulling in the same direction - etc. i realize locker room camaraderie can be overblown at times, however it seems to me that this year it might actually make an impact. how many wins does it account for? who knows, but im curious if you see the same thing and what your thoughts are.
    secondly, heading into the season there was a lot of expectation about both the two transfers (black and ross) who didn't ever really do much of anything, in contrast to both mason and crockett who were off the radar and yet contributed a lot by seasons end. how much better does it make the team this year that they have a better understanding of the talent on the team?
    lastly, haven't heard kobie whiteside's name mentioned lately. was surprised to not see his name in the list of freshman likely to play this year.
  • This is in response to the earlier question about Nate Howard. At the end of the spring I would have said he'd be a factor this year, but he's had too much trouble managing the other responsibilities of being a student-athlete.
  • As for John's question, one clarification. The quibbling and complaining with the scheme and the subsequent talk about the buy-in mostly came after the season had already started. This year, players and coaches are saying all the right things about improved leadership and chemistry. But that's almost always the case until adversity strikes. That's when leadership and chemistry are tested: When you lose a game or there's a major injury or some kind of divide on a team. I do think there were some veterans on last year's team who were looked to as leaders but didn't really fit that role. They weren't necessarily bad kids, but being old isn't the same as being a leader. I think this team has some positive, smart, tough leaders among the veterans: Beisel, Beckner, Lock, Adams, Witter, etc. 
    Your second question. Last year's grad transfers were flops. Ross got hurt early and I suspect he was worried about hurting his draft stock. Odom seemed to question his willingness to play through some pain in the middle of the season. He was never a factor. He was an unusual personality, to say the least. I had heard from the guys who covered Ross at Oklahoma that he was ... unique. And he lived up to that reputation. A lot was expected from Chris Black because A) he came from Bama and B) he was highly rated coming out of high school. But the staff wasn't thrilled with his effort, and once you get to the midpoint of the season and you have more promising young guys on the team with more upside, it made more sense to invest the reps in those players, like Johnson and Floyd. When Odom met with reporters after the season to reflect on the year, I asked if he'd dip back into the grad transfer market. His mouth said, "Nah, probably not." His face said, "HELL NO."
  • Shorter version of previously submitted question: What is your take on the "stick to sports" debate when it comes to sports journalists? At what point is it too much?
  • If we're talking about social media, I don't want anyone in any line of work to feel they have to censor their true feelings about current events. I don't care if we're talking about sportswriters talking about politics or political reporters talking about sports. I follow people whose opinions I enjoy reading - not necessarily whose opinions I agree with. I think people on the outskirts of both political viewpoints have trouble even reading/considering a viewpoint from the other side. I'm more open minded than that. I follow some writers whose political leanings are different from mine, but I still can learn something about topics and policies by absorbing their views. Now, if we're talking about reading a sportswriter's content in newspapers/magazines, that's different from social media. A beat writer who covers Mizzou football or the Golden State Warriors or the Miami Marlins isn't going to inject political opinions in their daily beat coverage about their teams. A columnist, who writes from an opinionated viewpoint, might be able to thread political opinions into their writing, and that doesn't bother me, as long as they do it with some talent and relate it back to the team/sport they cover, and not just using their platform to spew political talk. Not all columnists can pull off that move. But I have no problems with expressing those views on social media - as long as it's done tastefully.
  • What are your favorite sports to watch when you're not working?
  • If we're talking about the major sports, I'd start with the Cardinals, college football, the NFL and college basketball in the first tier. Then it's MLB and NBA. I'll watch Blues hockey and follow the coverage. I grew up a Cardinals fan, but I don't love MLB enough to wear I'll flip on a random Giants-Reds game in the regular season and watch closely. Same with the NHL, regular season or playoffs. I'll watch just about any college football game or NFL game that's on - but I can't do the same with baseball or hockey. Playoffs are different, but I'm not glued to my seat.
  • Dave, question. What would've happened if Jontay decided in August that he didn't want to go to Mizzou a year early? If he'd already completed all of his high school classes could be still play high school ball?
  • Non-qualifiers usually complete the required courses in order to move up a grade, but he could have always taken electives that weren't required by the NCAA and then taken some advanced placement courses to get a headstart on his college degree. If you're a decent student and have an organized plan, it's not that difficult to complete the NCAA required coursework, even if you try to squeeze four years into three.
  • What do you think has contributed most to Lock's struggles on the road? Do you think that will improve this year?
  • It's hard for any quarterback to win on the road. I don't think it's anything more than that. His QB rating and completion percentage were a lot worse on the road last year, but then again, MU played its four best opponents last year (LSU, Florida, Tennessee, WVU) on the road. If the trend continues again this year, then it's a big concern because the opponents on the road aren't as challenging. Georgia is a top 25 team, but not the others, at least not yet: Kentucky, UConn, Vandy and Arkansas.
  • Cuonzo Martin’s previous basketball teams haven’t been known for their offensive prowess. Do you think we could see a better offensive product now that Cornell Mann has joined his staff? His teams while at Iowa State had very potent offenses.
  • That's why Mann is the designated offensive coordinator for this team. As I've written the last few months, Mann has installed some pro actions that came from his days working with Fred Hoiberg at Iowa State. Martin's teams have traditionally played at a more deliberate pace in the halfcourt, but he's made it clear he'll adapt his style to his personnel. And he's never coached a dynamic offensive player like Porter Jr.
  • Which unassuming offensive and/or defensive MU football players do you think will make the most noise this year that no one seems to be talking about?
  • Well, I try to write about all the guys who I think will be big factors this year, so I'm never sure how to answer these questions. On offense, I'd say Richaud Floyd. He's going to play a lot behind Johnathon Johnson. If you ask the coaches who's been the most consistent, most productive and best leader among the receivers, the first answer you get is Johnson. The second answer you get is Floyd. On defense, I think they're going to rotate a lot along the D-line early, but the staff and players have been really high on freshman D-end Chris Turner. "He reminds me a lot of Shane Ray," fellow D-end Tre Williams said today. I think Cale Garrett's got a chance to rack up a lot of tackles at Mike linebacker and will keep pushing Eric Beisel for the starting job.
  • While its exciting to hear about how Byers is so athletic and versatile that he can line up on the edge... it kind of makes me worry that our pass rush this year is going to be slow and might not be able to get the job done. What is your impression on the DE group this year so far?
  • He's just one of many guys who could factor into playing time. I asked Odom today how the competition is going opposite Marcell Frazier. He said Jordan Harold has probably been the best overall player at the position - an answer I interpreted as meaning he's been better than Frazier. Frank Agbasimere and Tre Williams could spell both, as well as Turner, who has gotten some first-team work lately. I don't think it's certain that Byers plays this year. If so, he'll be part of a heavy rotation.
  • If someone could only get in for one Football game this year, which would you choose?
  • Which one person or which one game? I wish Bruce Springsteen could get in for the Missouri State game and play for two hours at midfield at halftime. If we're talking which game one should attend, Auburn is the best team on paper coming to Mizzou this year. Tennessee and Florida games could be competitive. Can't go wrong with either.
  • Thanks for all of the awesome stories that you're right. I have a random question, do you write a bunch of stories months ahead of time. It seems like you were rapidfire these days with so many great write ups
  • Thanks for the kind words. I generally don't have time to write in advance. Since the start of camp, I might have some material ready a day in advance, but I pretty much spend my days writing for the website and the next day's paper.
  • How many minutes per game does VanLeer get this year?... please say less than 5
  • I'd be surprised if he plays a major role. They have 13 scholarship players, and not many teams play more than 10 players in their regular rotation.
  • Based on what you are hearing--what's the depth chart look like on the D line? How does the non-conf basketball compare to last year's (strength of schedule, etc.)?
  • The top two D-ends are Frazier and Harold. Beckner is a first-team D-tackle. If the season started tomorrow, he'd play alongside either Utsey or Logan. Rashad Brandon on the second team with the other, and perhaps Walter Palmore. Second-team D-ends could be a mix of Tre Williams, Frank Agbasimere or Chris Turner. Akial Beyers and Nate Anderson in the mix, too.
  • MU BB recruits for 2018? Can we keep up this high level recruiting?
    go mizzou
  • Mizzou has two 2018 commitments. They're pursuing more. Chaminade's Jericole Hellems is a big target. I don't really get into the horse race coverage of recruiting. Kids will made decisions; Mizzou will fill scholarships. There's a lot of recruiting "analysis" that's really just guesswork until the kids make their decisions.
  • Hey Dave...good work as always. Who do you expect to be backup qb? I know both had their moments in the spring game. I liked Wilson's mobility. Lowary seems to have a good arm. Good deep ball. And whomever it is, do you expect them to get some playing time? Maybe a series per game or some designed plays like Zanders kinda had?
  • I don't expect a series or two for the backup QB during any competitive games. Someone will take some snaps in the fourth quarter of the Missouri State game. If MU is winning big against someone else, you'll probably see a backup take some snaps. Saturday's practice was closed but I was told freshman Taylor Powell was the best among the backups - and that it wasn't really close. That said, I'd be surprised to see him get his redshirt pulled unless he's truly that much better than Lowary and Wilson.
  • Who leads men's bball in steals this year. Got a lot of good candidates.

    What about double doubles
  • I would think Porter Jr. will lead the team in double-doubles. He'll be the best threat to score in double figures every night and he'll have his share of games with 10 rebounds or more. I'm not sure Tilmon will have enough 10-point games to lead MU in double-doubles. We'll see. As for steals, I don't know. I haven't really thought that far ahead.
  • Where is Michael Sam these days ?
  • I follow him on a couple social media accounts and he posts photos all the time, but I'm not sure exactly what he's doing or where he's living. He seems to travel a lot. I haven't talked to Michael since late 2015.
  • fair response, didn't think of it that way. Thanks for the thoughtful response
  • I'm not sure which question this was for, but you're welcome.
  • Dave, I have the exact opposite view of mufan (though I appreciate the tone of his/her post). I believe we are all political beings, and those who have jobs that operate in the public sphere should not be muffled or expected to "stick to . . ." My hope is always is that people are operating, whichever way they lean, from an informed position, but everyone gets a voice. In today's social media world, everyone gets a more public voice. Just because people look to certain areas for entertainment doesn't mean that people who work in those areas don't get to voice their views publicly. Others can choose to listen or ignore, but that's their choice. Their choice isn't to wish for silence from their entertainers, sportswriters, etc. We need more people actively engaging in politics, not fewer. I thought your answer was spot on.
  • Thank you. I couldn't agree more. A fellow sportswriter shared an opinion on Twitter about the president this week that I completely disagreed with, but it didn't upset me or cause me to stop following his takes on football. We're all citizens first, right? How can we not have thoughts on what's going on right now, one way or the other?
  • Until mufan brought it up, no one had mentioned Charlottesville. If you would prefer a particular subject not be broached on an interactive chat, it might be a good idea not to bring it up yourself.
  • I remember attending sold out or nearly sold out games back in the Mike Anderson days and the atmosphere wasn't all that great. I remember the student section being packed and the plush seats being empty. Any chance of the student section being reconfigured to surround the court?
  • No plans to change the student section for the upcoming season, to my knowledge. I wrote about updated season ticket sales for football and hoops on Wednesday. In case you missed ... 

    Mizzou football season ticket sales lag overall, rising for students

    stltoday.comSingle-game ticket sales bullish for upcoming football season.
  • Nate Howard just tweeted "Farewell, Mizzou Nation." I'm working to clarify if he left the program or if he was dismissed. He faces a court date Aug. 24 for his felony drug charge. He's currently suspended.
  • I heard an interesting take on Mizzou's basketball roster on a national podcast and I wanted to hear your take on it. He said that it concerns him when a teams best lineup (He said phillips, barnett, MPJ, Jontay, Tilmon) doesn't not match up with how it's best players should be playing. Basically he was saying that Mizzou's two best players and standouts, the porters, would be best suited to play at the 4 and 5 in college, to take advantage of their height and spacing. But if you play them at the 4 and 5, you are really going to stretch the rest of the roster in a way it shouldn't be stretched to make it work for the porters. Do you see a difference between what is best for the best players and what is best for the overall roster of this team?
  • I wouldn't agree that Jontay is the second-best player on this team. He might be come March or maybe he's the best player in 2018-19, but he's a few months removed from his junior year in high school. He's never taken part in a college practice. He wasn't exactly dominant against other bigs in the Peach Jam. He's not stepping on the floor in preseason practices come October and outplaying some seasoned veterans right off the bat. Again, he could develop into the second-best player, but if he's No. 2 when official practices tip off, this team isn't going very far. Martin has lots of options with this team in terms of playing big or small. They don't have to pick just one style. They should  be able to dictate how they play - or can just easily match up against the opponent to find mismatches. I know this: Expect to see some zone defense with all that length at the 2 through 5 positions. Imagine trying to find run offense with long-armed athletes like Barnett, the Porters and Tilmon clogging lanes with all that length.
  • Last year, Jordan Harold had a strong preseason camp and, as a result, started the first game of the season, but went on to only start one additional game all year and not really have much of an impact. This year he is also having a strong camp and is currently in line for the starting spot opposite Frazier; is this a negative sign that no one else has stepped up or does the staff think he's just that much better this year?
  • Odom talked about that today when asked the very question. He thinks Harold is a lot better now than what he showed last fall on the field. Now, is he going to be a really productive player? Hard to say. My guess is he's a consistent player in terms of knowing his assignment from play to play. The other guys are either new to the position (Agbasimere) or new to the program (Turner, Byers) or still learning how to practice at this level (Williams).
  • Two questions...
    is Saturday's scrimmage open to the press? I'd love to read about it.

    Has Mizzou ever considered bundling non-student season tickets for Men's basketball with football? Given the enthusiasm for this year's b-ball team, it might help drive season ticket sales for football.
  • All preseason scrimmages are closed to the media, so don't expect any coverage. I'm not sure about the second question. This year such a plan might lead to more football season tickets packages sold, but I'm not sure that would be the case every year.
  • Nate Howard just confirmed with me that he's leaving Mizzou. He's not sure where he'll play next, he said.
  • Dave, I think as a sportswriter you have a unique role though. Does Twitter help you perform your job? I think so as it helps reach audience members. People follow you and other sports PD Twitter accounts for info on sports. Personally, I don't care what you post on Twitter. However, I can see what the reader below is saying. Should not in my opinion double dip and talk about work stuff and politics on the same social media outlet. If you are a beat writer or just an average guy, you represent your company on social media unless you put a disclaimer such as "opinions are my own" and even then still act cautiously. People associate us with our employers online if we put the info out there. Is it fair? I don't know.

    Again, that's just how I see it. However, I am somebody that keeps politics off my social media account. Personally I've seen nothing but good work from you and think your Twitter account is great. Thanks for all that you do.
  • I see your point to a degree. But also, the people who are offended by the tweets that I like on Twitter come to the party wanting to be offended. The other day, I pressed the like button on a handful of tweets regarding Virginia: two by pro athletes and about six by politicians or former politicians currently out of office. Five of the six were Republicans. Someone on Twitter objected to my "leftist" views. I think that had to be the first time anything associated with Gov. Greitens constituted anything "leftist." Again, we're not told to censor our opinions on Twitter. My guess is a person who complains about a sportswriter's political tweets is complaining about the content, not the idea that a sportwriter has a political opinion - and wouldn't complain about another sportswriter whose leanings or worldview run similar to his own. Big picture here, I write about sports for the P-D; I use Twitter as a vehicle to share links to my stories and share other stories by other writers I find interesting. Sometimes I'll post thoughts about other topics. No one is obligated to agree with everything. That's the beauty of social media.
  • Hello Dave! A few years ago Mizzou had cupcake non-conference teams to start the season. Often they would start 4-0 or 5-0. Now there are heavy hitters like West Virginia or Auburn near the start of the season (also including conference games like SC). Do you think it was better for the team (including confidence) to go undefeated against lesser competition to start the season or go up against a tough team and potentially lose but get a good gauge of where the team stands and what they need to work on?
  • There's some value in playing a softer opponent or two early, especially because great teams generally get better later in the season. But I think it's good for the sport to have high-profile matchups early. If I was a head coach, it's easier to get my team motivated for the first game if it's a road trip to West Virginia. But, like last year, if you're working in new systems and a lot of new players, you might not be ready for a game like that. Mizzou puts up a better fight in Morgantown if that game is in November.
  • Hey Dave...ever see bill Laurie around Mizzou events? Is he involved with the basketball program at all? He was a regular behind the bench during Quin's days. Did he pull some strings to get Martin here? That's the rumour. How about josh kroenke? His father is a traitor, but does Josh donate at all? After all, we had to watch him for four years at Mizzou. Usually painful to watch.
  • Josh is pretty consumed with the Nuggets these days. I'm not aware of Josh having any dealings or interaction with Mizzou. Bill was around more some last year, and yes, he had some input in the hiring process last March. Sterk spoke with a number of influential donors before and during the process, and it's my understanding Laurie was contacted/consulted in some capacity.
  • A lot of high-end talent in the St. Louis area this year -- will Mizzou land any of the top 10 from the area?
  • Missouri only has heavy interest in four players in the STL area: Kam Babb, Ronnie Perkins, Michael Thompson and Trevor Trout. It's uncertain how much interest MU has in Dallas Craddieth. Cameron Brown has already committed to Nebraska (twice) and MU has commitments from four receivers already. I think MU has a good chance to sign at least two, if not three of the uncommitted STL recruits. We'll see this fall.
  • With the top 5 recruiting BB class, what kind of expectations should fans have. Based on the last 3 years your answer would be none. However it seems to me just making the tournament is not enough. With all the new talent which should be playing well together by March, advancing to the sweet sixteen should be a minimum. Whatbsay you?
  • I think it's fair to expect Missouri to make the NCAAs and be the higher-seeded team in the first round. The tourney itself is a crapshoot. It's hard to say in August that a team has to win one game or two games in the bracket in order to have a successful season, but I think it's fair to expect a tournament bid given the talent on the roster and a schedule that's challenging but not overwhelming.
  • The JUCO DE, can he redshirt? Don't hear a lot of talk about him. Seems a JUCO should either start or play significant minutes. Where does Anderson fit in from what you have heard?
  • Off the top of my head I can't recall if he has three years to play two or two to play two. If it's the latter then he doesn't have a redshirt year available. I've heard some good things about him. He's a likeable guy, eager to help this year. He says the coaches like his energy and motor. Is it a better investment to play him this year and preserve the year of eligibility for a guy like Byers? I'm not sure. Hard to say when the media doesn't get to watch them in contact drills to really measure how well they're holding up. I do think Byers is a guy who could be a third-down inside rusher in the Cheetah package, or whatever they're calling it these days. But maybe Anderson can fill that role, too.
  • If mizzou starts out 3-1 with only a loss to Auburn. Will we see an increase in ticket sales? And will we finish with being Bowl Eligible?
  • I would guess the bandwagon fans would hop on with a 3-1 start - but not as much as they would with a 4-0 start. If you go 3-1 in September you're halfway to a bowl. Add wins over Idaho and UConn and you need to go just 1-5 against the rest of the schedule to get to six wins. That's not asking for much.
  • What is the weakest group and/or the biggest concern for the defense? Football
  • On paper, I'm still not sold on the corners - or the safeties for that matter. The tackling was terrible back there, except for Ronnell Perkins.
  • What time during the football season will most potential recruits make up their minds on where and with which team they'll most likely sign?
  • Nobody really knows the answer to that question now that the December signing period has been added. I imagine if Mizzou starts off strong some might decide in September or October. Some might push off their decision until December. Some might wait for February. Impossible to know at this point.
  • OK, folks. That's all for today. Have a great weekend. Enjoy the eclipse. Don't stick to sports, ever.
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