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.




    Hey there, chatters. We've got lots to discuss I'm sure. I'll be here for the next couple hours to take all your Mizzou questions. As always, please be patient and let me get to your question before you submit it a second time. I'll get to as many as possible today.
    Before we start, make sure you've listened to this week's Eye on the Tigers Podcast. We'd greatly appreciate it if you also subscribe the pod at itunes or wherever you listen to to podcasts. 
     

    Eye on the Tigers podcast: Spring football blooms beneath NCAA cloud

    stltoday.comEpisode 56 • Mizzou men's basketball sharpshooter Mark Smith is out for the rest of the season, and the Tigers basketball team seems to be running on empty. Good thing
    Hello Dave from Icey St. Louis,

    Any plans soon for an article about John Brown and that era in Tiger BB history? He was quite an all around player and the team around him a very good one. At that time the NCAA only had 16 teams headed to post season so that MU team went to the NIT two seasons in a row. Maybe reach out to Mike Griffith, Orv Solomon, Al Eberhard, Gary Link… and Coach Stewart and get some color for us around John Brown and those early ‘70s teams. Remember, Hearne’s did not open until the fall of 1972 so the 1st game I saw was in Brewer Field House and Mr. Brown played very well against a tough K. State Jack Hartman team with Lon Kruger at guard!

    Brown was a methodical, non-flashy 6-7 power forward who rebounded well at both ends of the court, had a good mid-range jumper, could dribble up the court if needed, and a sold defender. Him teamed with Eberhard upfront were fun to watch.

    Talk to me
    I'd like to write about Brown with MU getting ready to retire his number, but it's a busy time of year with spring football getting started, and I'll be on the road next week covering MU's game at Georgia. I wrote about Brown back when I was at the Tribune when we counted down Columbia's top 100 athletes of the 20th Century and then again for my latest Mizzou book. He's a titan in the history of Mizzou hoops, the first real star of the Norm Stewart era.
    Punter - is McCann expected to give way to a preferred walk on?
    Tucker McCann was the backup punter last year and for now he's the guy - but MU has several walk-ons joining the program in June that will challenge for the job, along with current sophomore Josh Dodge. It's an important race, obviously, after four steady years of Cory Fatony.
    OL - I kinda thought Dubinksi might get a shot at LG
    At 6-2, 295, he's undersized for an SEC guard, especially in a downhill running attack. He's always been better suited at center. Larry Borom is monstrous and will get the first shot at competing for the job with Case Cook, who struggled with penalties when he played there last year. This has the makings of a really good offensive line.
  • So much to digest in that MU FB depth chart, as fluid as it might be. first, at WR: are Michal Wilson and Justin Smith listed as high as third at their positions merely because of seniority?
  • Newcomers start at the bottom of their respective position - everywhere but a quarterback where Odom made it clear that Kelly Bryant is Missouri's starter. I suspect Nance will make a push for a starting job or key backup job at one of the outside receiver positions. He's a grad transfer and this is his last year of eligibility. I'd be shocked if Justin Smith makes it into the rotation. He's had four years to make an impact on the depth chart and has never even won a backup job. Odom seems high on Micah Wilson. He'll get a shot to earn some time.
  • LB - do you Trump over Miller is on ability? Could Miller, Brooks/Wilkins slide over to the other LB, which seems a little light?
  • Trump moved from middle linebacker to weakside linebacker and I know the staff has always really liked him. It wouldn't surprise me if he's a captain this year. Those positions aren't all that different, both considered inside linebackers. Mizzou's defense is essentially a 4-2-5 defense. The third linebacker spot, right now with Gerald Nathan the starter, is for a more classic 4-3 look on early running downs, but even then I suspect you'll see the true safeties on the field more. 
    Miller had a great spring game last year but it was obvious in fall camp that he was slipping. Bolton passed him on the depth and really impressed the staff. Miller didn't even make the travel roster for a few away games. 
  • DB: I thought Perkins played "Boundary"? Are you surprised to see Williams at Boundary instead of safety?
  • Boundary is a safety position. I checked with Odom last night and here's what this new look essentially means: Free safety (Bledsoe/Ulmer) and Boundary safety (Gillespie, Williams) are your traditional high safety/deep safety positions. The strong safety (Perkins, Oliver) will play closer to the line of scrimmage in the tackle box, similar to a nickelback or a lighter outside linebacker. I would expect to see a lot of looks with four down linemen, Bolton and Garrett at inside linebacker, Perkins as the overhang/OLB/strong safety and then Bledsoe and Gillespie as the deep safeties. The boundary safety just means he plays on the short side of the field in more confined spaces. The free safety has the field side, with more space to cover.
  • Great news that media will be allowed at practices. In years past, I want to say I recall you reporting on performances (so-and-so threw a great pass, or made a great catch/tackle/run, etc. do you expect to do that again?
  • Not really. We're not allowed to report on the content of practice in the form of specific plays, stats, coverages, formations, etc. But I can share thoughts and observations without getting into the nitty gritty. The big differences are that we're allowed to watch the entire practice instead of being shuffled away during the 11-on-11 team drills - and most important, all coaches and players are available for interviews every day that there's a practice. For the past several years, only a smaller designated group was made available, which led to everyone essentially writing the same story every day and coverage lacked variety and depth. This should be a welcome change for the fans as much as it is for the writers covering practice.
  • What did Counzo do to get the technical foul at Florida - say the magic words or what? Was that his first technical foul as Missouri coach?
  • I asked a couple people who were sitting near the bench and they insist he didn't say anything specific - but he was out of the coach's box and practically across halfcourt before he finally got the T. I presume he had been warned to stay closer to the bench and stop drifting onto the court. He has a tendency to do that a lot, especially on the road. The officials might have heard a naughty word from someone else on the bench and assumed it was Martin. Either way, that's the first one he's had in a long time, first at Mizzou and first in an SEC game in five years coaching in the conference.
    MBB - what do you think happened to Puryear? it's one thing to find your ceiling as a player, but he seems to have regressed, at least statistically. Is he playing good defense? He's always apparently played out of position at the 4, but was more asked of that position under HCCM that he couldn't provide?
  • Great question. I'm not sure anyone knows the answer. I know there's some internal frustration that he didn't improve his game as much this offseason as other players in the program. He appeared to be in great shape when the season began, but conditioning has been a concern at times. He made strides with his 3-point shot early in the year but then he went cold for a while and he's since stopped attempting those shots. His defense was really good in a couple early SEC games - Texas A&M, Tennessee - and he's been a better rebounder at times. But he just hasn't been able to capitalize on what was supposed to be a golden opportunity to become more of an offensive factor after Porter got hurt. He struggles to finish at the rim, and that hasn't changed since last year. Yes, he led MU in scoring as a freshman, but that was basically by default. The roster was so dramatically short on other scoring options back then.
    Counzo Martin sat out Tilmon the first 5 minutes of the Mississippi St. game. Can the SEC suspend a player for such things as the gesture Tilmon made towards the Florida student section? Has anyone been suspended for such occurrence?
    I don't think the SEC gets involved in matters like that. Yes, he flipped off the students, but it was hardly gratuitous or obscene. I know Martin was really upset with Tilmon for how he handled himself in the moment. Martin hasn't talked to local media since the Florida game, so he hasn't addressed it yet, but based on what I was hearing earlier in the week from folks in the athletic department, I wasn't surprised at all that he yanked TIlmon from the starting lineup. But make no mistake, Martin is just as frustrated, if not more, with the recent surge of fouls. Earlier in the year, Tilmon  was getting called for fouls that Martin could take to the SEC and say, "These are bad calls and they need to stop because officials are stunting his growth as a player." He can't the same about some of the fouls that have been called lately. Anybody who wildly swings his arms at another players head or neck is going to get whistled for a foul and probably a flagrant foul. We'll see if he can get a handle on it in these last few games.
    It seems that the media (you and PD staff, KC Star, rockmnation guys, etc) are reluctant to put much (really ANY) blame for the basketball team's performance on Martin. In my recollection Kim Anderson got quite a bit more criticism for similar conference results.

    I'm not asking you to speak for colleagues at the PD or other outlets nor looking for a response to the criticism/defense of Martin concept.

    My question: In general, as a journalist, is the aversion to correlating on court performance with the Mizzou coaching staff at all a product of protecting future access?

    Thanks for the chats; I enjoy them
    Well, for one, we don't get very much access to Mizzou basketball, so there's not much to risk losing in this case. We generally get to talk to two players once a week and then a couple after games. 
    I inject some analysis into my writing and offer opinions on the chat and the podcast, but my job largely is to provide objective reporting on the facts. And I've never worried about my coverage leading to diminished access. 
    Anderson and Martin, and really any coach in his first or second season, generally get a free pass if it's painfully obvious that factors beyond their control are leading to losses on the court. The criticism on Anderson didn't get loud until his third year, when Frank Haith's recruits were completely gone from the roster and the team actually got worse with Anderson's players. Martin is still having to play a lot of those players and - here's the biggie - his best player each of the last two seasons was lost for the year with an injury. This year, he's lost another top-three player to a season-ending injury in Mark Smith. Reasonable people see the progress. Yes, they've struggled to close out games. They're not getting consistent play from most players. But this team is a collection of either Anderson holdovers or first- or second-year players. And again, you can't discount the two major injuries. This year's team has blown four leads of double-digit margins in SEC games. Anderson's teams were rarely, if ever, in position to go up double digits on any SEC opponent. I still believe there's a strong foundation growing under Martin. I never really believed that to be true under Anderson. The core players he brought into the program either left - and went to mid-major teams - or stuck it out and have become, at-best, role players on this year's team - with Jordan Geist being the obvious exception. 
    I stumbled upon an article in the KC Star about Mizzou BB recruit Tray Jackson. I don’t know much about him than that he is 6’8”. Will he be a significant addition to Mizzou’s front line next season and bring MU BB back from the depths they have fallen to in conference play this season?
    He will play and will need to play next year. He would help this year's team at power forward. I haven't seen him play, so I can't say how much he'll impact next year's team, but they can't get much worse at that position. Puryear won't  be back next year. At this point it's too early to know what the entire roster will look like. There could always be some roster turnover in the offseason.
    With Derrick Chievous' #3 being retired how does that affect the possibility of retiring Sophie's #3 down the road? Do the retirements relate only to the specific sport/team and in this case gender for whom the individual played? Does Sophie meet the new criteria established for being so honored in the future? If so, do you see her as a lock?
    First of all, she won't be eligible for her 3 to be retired for another 10 years. So, 2029 at the earliest. She'll have to inducted into Mizzou's Athletics Hall of Fame. That's a given. Here are other criteria. She'll have to reach a few of these: 
    Multiple All-SEC honors ... Yes. She'll have that.
    A major SEC award ... Yes. She was SEC freshman of the year in 2016
    All-America honors (1st, 2nd or 3rd team) ... Not yet. She's made honorable mention.
    National award ... Not yet.
    Set a career SEC or NCAA record ... No.
    Play in the WNBA for at least five years ... Not yet.
    Get inducted into a college or pro sports hall of fame ... Not yet.
    Won an Olympic medal while competing at MU ... No.
    So, she's not an automatic candidate, but she'll have a shot. 
     
    How are major injuries to college athletes handled? Does the school have insurance for the player and are involved in the surgery and recovery process or does that fall on the player and their family? Just curious. I know the high profile players (MPJ, Jontay, etc.) probably go to their own doctors and do it on their own, but what about guys like Cullen Van Leer or Mark Smith?
    The university pays for insurance coverage for the athletes and they're covered as long as they are treated by a doctor in the university's system. Some athletes, like the Porters, opt to go out of the system.
    A lot of articles are coming out about Odom having to re-recruit his own guys, especially Bryant, in the wake of the NCAA news.

    Is there a time before the season actually starts that, that concern will mostly go away or could a senior decide a week before the first game they are going to transfer?
    They can leave for another team up until the first day of classes in the fall, which is Aug. 19. So, technically, coaches from other schools can contact the seniors through the entire spring and summer.
    Do you believe Dru Smith dramatically changes this team next year? Would you say he is better than Geist? Potential starting lineup D Smith, M Smith, Pinson, Tilmon, then who? Do you feel like they are really hurting missing out EJ Liddell?
    Martin believes Dru Smith would have been the best player on this year's team. The staff has very high expectations for him on both ends of the floor. I asked Martin about Smith last week. Here's what he said. 
    “He’s a good player. He’s strong. He’s been in games. He’s battle tested. He was coached well in high school as well as college. He’s also a guy who’s an intelligent player. Just instincts for the game. Often times when you watch him you forget about the thing you take for granted, that you thought were just normal basketball things that might seem hard for this guy. Just regular basketball play. He’s sound. He understands how to read a defense, read ball screens. I think where he separates himself from the competition right now is defensively. Of course he does good things offensively but he takes pride in defending. And it shows.”
     
    Smith was a really efficient shooter at Evansville. He was a high-assist, low-turnover guard. He could play multiple positions on the perimeter next year and defend multiple positions on the floor. He's a starter the day he's eligible. 
    I would think Dru Smith, Mark Smith and Pickett are starters on the perimeter. Who starts at the four? Santos? Jackson? Tilmon starts at center. Or MU could go with a four-guard look and make Pinson or Watson the fourth starter. This roster should have more flexibility than what Martin has now.  
    When CM became head coach he inherited an issue with an NCAA metric concerning the number of players that had recently left the program. It passed by the wayside, but in my opinion, a purge of unskilled/effort adverse players needs to occur this spring. Assuming that happens, will that NCAA metric once again be an issue that would affect post-season tournament play?
    Thanks for having this chat
  • They won't get rid of anyone who will harm the team's Academic Progress Rate to the point where they'll get sanctioned by the NCAA. And if anyone leaves the team, that transfer is mitigated as long as they leave in good academic standing and transfer to another four-year school. I'm not going to speculate on players Martin would want gone from the team - and I'm not certain there are players he would definitely want gone.
    I'm a Mizzou alum and fan, but Tilmon would have developed more in Big10 where they don't call the touch fouls and allow a more physical brand of basketball inside. His frustration is well deserved. Your thoughts
    Maybe that's true for some of the fouls from earlier in the year, but not the stuff that's sending him to the bench lately, when he's wildly flailing his arms at an opponent's head. There are conference crossovers when it comes to officiating. The officials who do SEC games don't only officiate SEC games. Keith Kimble, the top-rated official at KenPom.com, has officiated 43 games since Jan. 1: Seven SEC games, eight Big Ten games, 12 Big 12 games and a handful of games in the ACC, Big East and American. Is he an SEC official? Well, sort of. He's paid by the SEC to call its games. But he's also paid by the Big Ten ... and the Big 12. On Monday, he worked Oklahoma-Iowa State (Big 12), on Tuesday he worked Virginia Tech-Duke (ACC) and on Wednesday he worked Purdue-Illinois (Big Ten). So, if fouls are called differently in each league, does he change his standards from Monday to Tuesday to Wednesday?
    Women's basketball question. Any word on Levy? Looked like knee buckled sideways on TV, which could be ACL damage.
    I've asked the team and gotten no response. They play at Arkansas tonight, so maybe we learn something. Robin Pingeton said after the game Sunday it looked serious and sounded grim as could be.
    I'm outta here. Sorry man, but 10+ minutes is too long to wait between question and answer.
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