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..




    Greetings, Mizzou chatters. Hopefully you've recovered from last night's Blues victory. I'll be here for the next couple hours to take your questions ...
    Blues one. No one cares about Mizzou today. How dumb is the PD?
    Actually, the Blues won. Thanks for joining us.
    Where does the Blues win rank in your St. Louis sports fan life?
    It's way up there. I'm allowed to be a Blues fan because I don't cover the team in any aspect, and watching this team over the last few months has been as fun as any fan experience I've had. The Cardinals have played in six World Series in my lifetime, and while those 1980s teams have their own special place in my sports fan DNA, when you follow the Cardinals you're almost de-sensitized to all the winning because there's been so much of it. But this is uncharted territory with the Blues, and it's really been a joy to see the fan support, even from a couple hours away in Columbia. The guys on this team seem about as likable as they come in pro sports. Best of all, the P-D coverage has been outstanding throughout the trip, from JT to Tom Timm to Hochman to BenFred to Gordo and all of our great photographers. That's what I've enjoyed most is the daily storytelling those guys have done throughout the ride.
    Greetings from Hockeytown! Mizzou FB is doing much better recruiting the STL but still pretty slow in the KC area. Who covers KC or is it more positional recruiting? And is it just a cycle or how do you explain it?
    Missouri mostly does positional recruiting now with its assistant coaches. Kansas City isn't exactly pumping out the same quality and quantity of recruits that we've seen in the St. Louis area the last few years. MU got Parker and Gicinto out of Kansas City last year, and they were both productive players as true freshmen.
    You've ranked the RBs, recently (and before that, I think, some other positions) but as fellow journalist, I'd like to see your rankings of the best interviews among the players you've covered - and, perhaps, the coaches you've covered (gotta think GP is going to be high on that list).
  • I'm not sure how to rank them, but I've always favored the guys who fit the following criteria:
    1. They show up and don't duck interviews when times are tough.
    2. They're candid and honest.
    3. They're interesting. 
    4. They're insightful about the game and don't assume the person answering the question is too dumb to understand football.
    Here are the best from the last 20 years: Lorenzo Williams, Sean Weatherspoon, Mitch Morse, TJ Moe, Martin Rucker, Max Copeland, AJ Ricker, Craig Heimburger, Rob Riti, Drew Lock, Chase Daniel, L'Damian Washington, Michael Scherer. 
    As for coaches: Josh Henson, Dave Steckel, Dave Christensen, Bruce Walker.
    I can't lump Pinkel into that category after writing a book with him because our working relationship really evolved through that process. 
  • Do you think KU will be one of the 6 schools notified of Level 1 allegations?
    I don't think we'll be surprised by the six schools that are hit with sanctions. We know assistant coaches were indicted/convicted from Auburn, Oklahoma State, USC and Arizona. We know Kansas and LSU were targeted in the investigations. The NCAA already ruled on De Sousa's eligibility, but it hasn't dealt with the KU coaches yet. I suppose we shouldn't be surprised if any of the six schools I just listed are part of the six that get punished by the NCAA.
    Do you have any insight into what HCBO and his staff look for in players, specifically? All we have are the recruiting site rankings which are little more than educated guesswork (e.g., Luke Kuechly was a 3-star player coming out of high school and will go down as one of the three or so greatest middle linebackers in history, IMHO). How much does their leadership quality play into it (as in, maybe they were captains of their HS teams).
    Size, speed, quickness, skill. In Pinkel's evaluation system, some of which Odom has borrowed from, speed and size potential were significant factors. High school players aren't done growing and developing, so the staff had different ways to measure their potential in those areas. The intangibles play a role in the evaluation, but you've got to be a good player to be recruited. You can't just be a boy scout and team captain. If recruits are in leadership roles for their high school teams and come highly regarded from coaches, teachers, counselors, etc., that's a bonus - or maybe even a tiebreaker if you've got a couple prospects with similar athletic abilities.
    Any news regarding the post-season/bowl ban?
    Nothing new to report. Mizzou will likely make its in-person appeal at a hearing in July and then maybe get a final ruling in late August or early September at the earliest.
  • I read your article about MU selling alcohol at FB games and the many incidents that have occurred at WV and Ohio St which have been reduced now that they sell alcohol in the stadium. Maybe I missed it, but does MU have many incidents like WV and OSU that they hope will be reduced by selling alcohol in the stadium?
  • I don't have the data but every major program has some level of game-day incidents, whether it's underage drinking, fights, public drunkenness, etc. That's why there are swarms of police at every game. It hasn't been a major problem at Mizzou to my knowledge, but that's also because of the no pass-out policy that went into effect in 2012 when Mizzou joined the SEC.
  • Do you expect Okongo to get much time or will he essentially be splitting Nikko's minutes from last year?
    Hard to say. Four days ago no one knew he existed. Clearly he's a project. He had trouble getting minutes for his juco team. As I wrote the other day, his former head coach and AD at juco didn't believe the team's offensive philosophy suited Okongo's strengths last season, but if you're 7-feet tall and getting looks from high-major teams, you'd expect more production than what he gave last season. From what I've been told the staff likes his upside defensively. Jeremiah Tilmon isn't someone you can expect to play 30 minutes a night, and with a second option at center besides Nikko, MU should have more answers inside, even if Okongo isn't going to produce eye-popping numbers. Also, there's a thought internally that he's the kind of player with the kind of body and demeanor who will challenge Tilmon in practice and make him a better player. I'm surprised they took someone with multiple years of eligibility considering they'll want to clear space for more 2020 additions, but a lot can change over the course of a year when it comes to roster turnover.
    Congrats from KC on the Blues win. What is the upside and potential role in your opinion of the new 7' hoops recruit in your opinion? Seems like he would just be in line for a few minutes here and there as the third guy behind Tilmon and Nikko or a redshirt year. Or maybe he is dynamic enough to play some minutes in a rotation alongside Tilmon.
    I touched on most of these questions a minute ago, but as for the redshirt question, I haven't gotten a clear answer on whether he has a year available. He played two seasons at Northwest College, though the school tried to bring him in a year earlier but had a holdup with transcripts and other issues. From what his junior college coach told me this week, Okongo did NOT redshirt there. If not, then he would have a year available to sit out at Mizzou. But I don't see why that would make sense - unless they firmly believe he'll be an impact player in two years and it's definitely worth taking up a scholarship spot for three seasons.
    Good Morning Dave - Do you believe we should have recruited a transferred, experienced running back that could play immediately? Fortunately, Larry Roundtree is not an injury prone back. However, we are thin at backup. Thank You
    Had the staff known Crockett was entering the draft, they would have recruited another running back, but they were stunned by his decision, and by late January they didn't have anyone on the radar they wanted to pursue for the February signing date. It's easy to say they should have gotten a transfer, but who would have been interested in coming to a program that returns a junior who was a 1,200-yard rusher last season? Most transfers are on the transfer market because they want more playing time, and MU couldn't honestly tell a potential transfer that he'd start or play ahead of Rountree. They like Badie a lot. They like Bakare. They're going to take a close look at Watkins this summer. Downing is not the worst fallback option if injuries pile up.
    I was surprised with the announcement that Akira Levy is transferring from the WBB team. She seemed to be an integral part of the team with all indications she would play a lot this year if she recovered from her injury. Do you think this is an indication that there are issues within the Mizzou program that we don't know about or is it a young woman thinking the grass is greener somewhere else?
  • I have to take her word for it until someone tells me otherwise, but she told me she wants to play for a team that plays faster. MU played at an incredibly slow pace last season. Will that be Pingeton's same philosophy moving forward? Hard to say. Will Aijah Blackwell's arrival take the ball out of Levy's hands or cut into her minutes? Possibly. Don't forget, Mizzou is adding Shug Dickson from Texas Tech/Tulsa, either this year or next pending a transfer waiver. Seeing Levy interact with her teammates last season and what a big role she played on the team on and off the floor, yes, I was a little surprised by her decision ... but we should be learning to never be stunned when players want to transfer. It's a major part of the college game now, especially in men's and women's basketball.
  • Just here to say that I hope Mizzou basketball in my lifetime can win the NCAA tournament. If it seemed impossible for the Blues to win we have to believe the Tigers can win it all. Whatever it takes. A couple of star players...
  • Never say never. The Blues were a joke in January. We had a Post-Dispatch event with readers in early December in St. Louis and one of the night's giveaways was tickets to a Blues game. I made a crack sitting alongside my colleagues - on an open mic - that the contest's loser should have to take the tickets instead. That was barely six months ago. What a wild season. What a team. What an organization. What a run.
  • Is Okongo on campus now and practicing with the team.
  • He was still at his junior college on Tuesday afternoon, so I'm not sure he's made it to Mizzou yet.
  • Dave - How do you see our secondary defense compared to last year? Will the four star recruit that was hurt during spring be ready practice in August (My apologies - I forgot his name? Thank You
    I'm not sure Jalani Williams will be ready for full-contact drills. Just had foot surgery in March/April. The staff loves him, so he might need camp and then a couple weeks to get back 100 percent. I'm really high on the cornerbacks for this team. Acy had a rough game against Oklahoma State, but that was as much about the non-existent pass rush. Otherwise he had a really strong season. I had him second team on my All-SEC ballot - and both first-teamers were high draft picks. I'm also not sure that Holmes isn't the better of the two. Once he finally earned the staff's trust to become a starter, he was really active around the ball. This is the best tandem they've had at corner in a long time, at least since Gaines-Rutland - with more upside as a pair. Sparks should be back this year. Teams picked on him early last season before he lost his starting job and go hurt. He always seems to be in the right place at the right time in coverage but he doesn't make plays on the ball like Acy or Holmes. The staff is especially high on Jarvis Ware. He'll see time this fall. 
    At safety, they're banking on Bledsoe and Gillespie taking their games to a new level as juniors. We've seen glimpses from them, but they can squeeze more production out of both guys. 
    Who has a better statistical year. Okongo or Nikko next year?
    Again, hard to play guessing games about a guy none of us knew existed less than 100 hours ago. Nikko was more productive as a high-major DI junior last season against high-major DI competition than Okongo was at the junior college level. And that's not to say Nikko is Bill Russell, but seeing is believing, so I'll have to see what Okongo can do at this level against this type of competition before I'll start guessing on how much and how well he'll play.
    Who leads us in sacks this coming season. How about int?
  • Sacks: Jordan Elliott
    INTs: Christian Holmes
  • Who rushes for more yards. Kelly or Badie?
  • Good question. I think it's Badie, though I've been watching a lot of Bryant's clips from Clemson and he's a really fast, gifted runner on designed calls out of the shotgun/pistol. Ideally, the staff would probably prefer Badie have more rushing yards so that Bryant isn't exposed to so many hits ... but he's got the ability to rush for 700-800 yards as a complimentary threat to Rountree.
  • How do you rate our all time TEs? We have had some great ones.
    Kellen Winslow belongs in a company by himself. He wasn't as prolific a receiver in college, but the Tigers didn't throw the ball nearly as much in their veer offense back then. 
    From there, you've got Rucker and Coffman, who didn't put their hand in the ground like a prototypical tight end, but if they were asked to do it, they could hit a defensive end or linebacker and make a block. They were great receiving threats, powerful runners with the ball in their hands and elite red-zone targets.
    Egnew put up huge numbers. Again, didn't have his hand in the dirt as a blocker very often, but a very good college tight end in the role he was asked to play. Culkin was probably the best blocker of the modern era tight ends. It's why he's still employed by the Chargers.
    Dwayne Blakley had some big catches in his time, though didn't play in an offense that really thrived in getting the ball vertical. Andy Gibler earned all-conference honors in three different seasons. Ofodile was a productive pass-catcher in the Stull years. 
    I think Albert O has the chance to finish his career No. 2 behind Winslow. He's a better receiver than blocker but will be in a three-point stance with chances to open holes or protect the QB. 
    Dave: The NCAA has generally been spineless when it comes to penalizing blueblood programs (hello, UNC basketball!). Given the dirt that has been turned up with FBI investigation, do you anticipate serious penalties for the 6 basketball teams even though two are among the biggest names in the sport with Arizona and KU?
    I think Ohio State, Notre Dame and USC football would take issue with the spineless NCAA comment. From the comments the NCAA official made this week, yes, I expect strong penalties. Maybe not for all six but at least a few of the schools involved. I don't know how much evidence they have or what evidence they're using specifically, so I can't speculate on how hard they'll come down on whoever's involved.
    Now that we're two years into his tenure, how would you evaluate Jim Sterk so far? Though time will tell, early returns would suggest he seems to have made a lot of good coaching hires.
  • He hired fired Kim Anderson, Ehren Earleywine and essentially swimming coach Greg Rhodenbaugh. He hired Cuonzo Martin and Larissa Anderson and promoted Andrew Grevers to run the swim programs. So, I'm not sure I'd say he's made "a lot" of good hires. I've always believed Martin will be have sustained success at Mizzou, but we haven't seen enough to say that yet.
    He successfully revived Pinkel's plan for the south end zone complex and raised a good chunk of money to pay for most of it. 
    He's taken a proactive approach to making alcohol sales possible at MU this fall. 
    Publicly, he's taken a hard stance against the NCAA sanctions, though it would be unfair to evaluate the job he's done behind the scenes with the NCAA. 
    He's had to tighten the department's belt because of revenue challenges that mostly stem from a drop in ticket sales for football - a trend that started before his arrival. 
    Ultimately, Sterk will be measured by the decision to keep and extend Odom and the decision to hire Martin. That's generally how we measure ADs - unless their departments become ensnared in major sanctions or scandal. 
     
  • This week's Where are they Now - Monte Hardge, Haley Twins, Albert White and Mark Atkins
  • I couldn't tell you. Those aren't five guys I run across in my daily life. Atkins was at MU for the 93-94 team reunion last season.
  • Which player besides Bryant and Larry excite you for this upcoming season
  • I want to see a healthy Albert O working with a new position coach. 
    I want to see Jalen Knox's jump from freshman to sophomore year. 
    I want to see what a lighter, stronger, more confident Jordan Elliott can do. 
    I want to see what this corner tandem can do as returning starters under a new coach. 
    Where does the Blues victory rank in your St. Louis fandom? And how long before they win the Cup again?
    I touched on this much earlier in the chat. 
    How long before the Blues hoist it again? If they keep this core together and Binnington wasn't a one-hit wonder, no reason they can't contend again next year. I saw they're 12-1 odds to repeat. Tampa, Vegas, Boston are the favorites. 
    If you missed earlier ... Mizzou has put the wheels in motion to sell alcohol at games this fall. Still some hoops to jump through, but local law enforcement is on board with athletics. That's an important ally in the movement. Here's more from today's Post-Dispatch:
     

    Mizzou hopes to follow West Virginia's lead in alcohol sales

    stltoday.com: If campus leaders can turn talk into action this summer, Mizzou would love to sell alcohol at football games this fall, continuing a national trend that started in Morgantown, W.Va.
    What do basketball & football players do during the summer? I assume they have workouts and practices. Are they required? If not, I guess it would pretty stupid to choose to not participate if you really want playing time when the season starts. Do they get to choose what they work on or do the coaches and conditioning staff determine what they think is needed? And how much free time do they have?
    The NCAA has regulations for how many hours the coaches can work with the athletes during the offseason, including the summer. The workouts, drills, scrimmages, etc. are all carefully structured and planned. The basketball team practices in the morning, lifts weights later in the day then has individual drill work with the coaches. Technically the summer workouts are "voluntarily," but if you want to play during the season you better lace up and get to work.
  • OK, friends. That's it for today. We'll do this again next week before I take some vacation. We'll see you next week.
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