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 10 a.m. Friday.

    Howdy, Mizzou fans. Thanks for letting us move the chat back a day again this week. This time of year the schedule gets more hectic than usual. One more home basketball game tomorrow, then the SEC tournament. Spring football practices start tomorrow also. Lots of coverage coming your way. I'll be here for the next couple hours to take your questions.
    I think Martin has done a great job of keeping the team focused. My questios is what is your take on Watson and why he has played so poorly. Other question do you know if Martin is trying to get a shooter that can help this team with the 3 , because that is a huge problem..
    Not the best timing for this question, because Watson had one of his better games at Ole Miss. He single-handedly got it to a single-digit deficit before halftime in the final minute with a 3-pointer, a steal and a layup. He got some more time in the second half and was assigned to cover Ole Miss' best player once Dru Smith got hit with his fourth foul. 
    I'm not sure how to explain Watson's struggles. I'm not sure he can either. Martin always says that Pickett works on his shot more than anyone on the team, but Watson might be a close second. It just hasn't fallen for him. And now his minutes are more sporadic, so I'm sure it's difficult to get into the flow of the game when playing your minutes are few and far between. His 3-point percentage is down from 36.1 to 28.3. His minutes are down but his turnovers are up per minute. His 2-point shooting percentage is way down but his free throw percentage is way up. It's just been a lost season for Torrence. Martin still has high expectations for his potential. He made the comment last week that he believes he can become an elite shooter. He even mentioned Arkansas' Isaiah Joe. That's quite a comparison considering they're the same age and Joe is one of the best scorers and shooters in the SEC. For his part, Watson keeps a positive attitude, at least publicly, and that's important. He knows he's struggling. I imagine he'll work like crazy this offseason to fix what's wrong. If it's fixable. 
    I don’t know the history of WBB at MU, but I have followed them for the last 4 years since I saw them lose a double digit lead and lose by double digits to SLU in Sophie’s 2nd year. I really enjoyed the team work of the women’s game those first two years. I have personally been disappointed of the lack of growth of some players whom I thought could be better. Reading your article this week on the state of the program, I was struck by the comment from Coach P in your article - "but after the year’s unprecedented struggles" . I am unaware of what she is referring to. Wonder if you could shed some light.
    I was simply referring to the struggles to win games. The team won nine games this year. That's tied for the fewest in team history. The program's debut season was in 1974-75 and that team was 9-8. The Tigers have never failed to win 10 games in any season since then. 
    Pingeton has said candidly for a few months that it was a mistake to schedule so many challenging conference games. She thought it would be good for this team, but instead the early losses drained their confidence and carried over to SEC play. That doesn't mean they would have been a much better team with an easier schedule, but she knows her team better than anyone else. 
    Could you comment on coach Martin's style. His constant yelling directions during play is what I am referring to. I know a lot of coaches are very active on the sideline and many are successful. But constant yelling directions seems a bit too much. It can be heard even to the TV audience.
    Most of the time he's just telling guys to keep their hands up on defense. HANDS! HANDS! HANDS! You hear it all the time if the crowd isn't too loud. Otherwise, he doesn't do anything that most coaches don't do also. Watch Calipari or Pearl or Buzz Williams. They yell just as much if not more. Williams probably burns about 10,000 calories a game working the sideline.
    How many SEC teams make the Big Dance? The top 6 teams in conference play all have 10 wins. They seem to me to be shoe ins. Tennessee an TXA&M have 9 wins and could have 10 if they win their last game, but 8 SEC seems a little high to me. Arkansas will be under .500 and it doesn’t the NCAA require at least a .500 conference record to get in. I hope MU has a good final game vs Alabama who needs a win to get to a 9-9 conference record. Too bad they are one of the bottom 4 in the standings and have to play again on the first day.
    There is no winning record requirement to make the NCAA tourney - or even the NIT. 
    As of today, ESPN projects only four teams getting from the SEC: Kentucky as a 3 seed, Auburn as a 6 and Florida and LSU as 9s. ESPN has Arkansas and South Carolina among the batch of first teams left off the bracket. I would presume Mississippi State would be close also. 
    CBS also has only four in the NCAAs: Kentucky as a 3, Auburn as a 5, Florida as a 9 and LSU as a 10. Arkansas and Mississippi State are the top bubble teams. 
    I think the league gets five at max - and that would require Arkansas or Mississippi State to win a few games in Nashville. 
    If you care about the NIT - some do, some don't - the problem with the SEC getting so few teams in the NCAA Tournmant means there's a glut of SEC teams available for the NIT field. But that's only a 32-team bracket, and I can't imagine 8-9 teams from one conference will make the field. If the SEC were getting six or seven teams in the NCAA, then a 16-win Missouri team ... or Ole Miss ... or Georgia would have a better shot at the NIT. Maybe not this year. 
  • any update on MBB recruiting. I would really like to see if we could get a solid shooter.
  • My hunch is Mizzou will dip into the transfer market. 
    Five-star guard Josh Christopher still has MU in his top four, but I'm not sure how much traction is there. Donovan Williams from Nebraska still has MU as an option, but again, not a lot of buzz. 
  • My bad for not remembering the schedule change this week, but seems the people who post the reminder didn't remember either. AT 10 am all references to the chat positng for yesterday disappeared from the web site with no info on the schedule changing to today. They could do better.
  • There are a lot of moving parts at STLtoday this time of year with spring training and the college basketball postseason. Apologies for any confusion.
    Mizzou just announced a batch of future football games, some as far out as 2035.
    2026: vs. Troy
    2028: SEMO, Northern Illinois
    2029: at Northern Illinois
    2030: vs SEMO, at North Texas
    2031: vs. North Texas
    2032: vs. Northern Illinois, at Illinois
    2033: vs. Illinois
    2034: at Illinois 
    2035: vs. Illinois
    That's a new four-year series with Illinois, a new home-and-home series vs. North Texas and a two-for-one series with Northern Illinois. 
    I would assume next year is the make or break year for Cuonzo. Any chance he sees the writing on the wall and moves elsewhere after season or will he see it through for next year? Also, have you heard anything on Josh Christopher? I feel like he's the type of playmaker we lack this year and could really boost the 2nd unit. If he does choose Mizzou I could definitely see a transfer or two.
    Where is Martin going to go where he can make more than $3 million a year, plus the $6 million Mizzou would owe him after NEXT season if they'd fire him? It's not like high-major programs are going to line up to pay him $3 million after back to back losing seasons. This is his job. He's got every incentive to stick it out. 
    No buzz on Christopher. Some people think he's headed to Michigan. 
    Continue on the WBB theme. I think some of the SEC commentators hit the nail on the head as for the women's program. For the past six years we have had major players in the program who were the leaders. When Sophie came aboard it was not like the cupboard was bare. You had her sister, the Stock twins, Jordan Frericks. Porter joined Sophie and a year later Aldredge joined the mix. The four seniors as well as next year's seniors were brought in with more of a supporting role and not a leading role. They were not designed to to be high scorers, point guards and leaders. They are good players in the roles they know, but could not adjust to the new roles. I think next year we will be a turn around as we will be adding two true point guards and three true inside players at 6'3" or taller to the mix.
    It's a valid point. Here's how it was described to me recently. The last few years Mizzou had a Batman and a bunch of Robins. This year, with Batman off to the WNBA and Australia, the Tigers needed the Robins to turn into Batman - but they stayed Robins. Some players are more comfortable playing the role of the sidekick. I look at Amber Smith as that player this year. She was a dangerous No. 2 option alongside Sophie as a sophomore and junior. But she was essentially the same player as a senior. By midseason, the two freshmen had established themselves as the team's best players - and the seniors were still just complimentary pieces. Is that a recruiting mistake or just a unique dynamic? Players who were expected to develop into more productive, premier players seemed to hit a ceiling in that sidekick role.
  • Hi Dave. I like the kids on our basketball team and not to disparage anyone in particular but some of them would be better suited to a lower level of competition. Does Cuonzo Martin have the ability to be realistic with these kids and restock the roster with enough talent to compete next year in the SEC? This looks bleak going into next year. Your thoughts?
    I think it’s more than fair to wonder about this core group’s ceiling next year when it would be a year older. Obviously players can improve and develop their skills and be more cohesive a year from now, but I can’t see this team as it’s currently built taking a major leap without some impact additions. And as we know the way the current roster is structured there’s not much room for additions right now. I just don’t think it has as much to do with Martin‘s ability as it does personnel and how the team is built. They need better outside shooting. That won’t come down to Martin‘s ability but the players’ individual development. He can teach them every last detail of making a jump shot but unless they have that talent within them and are willing to work to master that skill, they’re not going to be better at shooting.
    Cuonzo Martin and Brad Underwood are finishing their third season at their respective schools. Cuonzo made the NCAA tournament in his first year and will not make the tournament for a second straight year. Underwood coached the Illini to their worst record in school history last season and almost assuredly is in the tournament season. It looks to me like the teams are headed in different directions. The Illini are on the upswing with a good base of young players for a couple of more years. Commentators for MU SEC games are touting the fact that MU will lose on Reed Nikko after this season leading one to believe only good things will happen next season. I’m not as confident. I see Dru Smith and Xavier Pinson as a solid base for next year’s team, but after them there are a lot of question marks. Can Pickett, Mitchell Smith, and Torrance Watson deliver more consistancy? Can Parker Braun, Kobe Brown and Trey Jackson improve over their freshmen seasons? Will a difference maker be brought in with the few open spots available for next season? I see more questions marks than answers right now.
    I can’t make predictions on how all of those players will develop next year. There are obviously promising pieces there. At one point another all of those guys you listed have had really positive moments. They just haven’t come at the same time far enough for this team to win games.
    Are football players working out with each other during this time of the off season? are quarterbacks and wide receivers allowed to work out and stay the play books along with the rest of the players? I'm assuming that the coaches aren't allowed to interact with them why they do things like that.
    Yes, players work out with the strength staff for 8 hours a week this time of year. Essentially four days a week during the normal work week. Then it ramps up to, I believe, 20 hours a week once spring practices start tomorrow.
    Dave - We don't hear too much from Coach Drinkwitz's or the football program these days. Are they just purposely laying low? Maybe it's just me - but I'm getting excited for spring football to start and to see how the program starts to come together with all the new coaches and offensive schemes. I know the spring football game is pretty vanilla when it comes to seeing how things will look like in the fall, but I would have to believe there going to be a new look. Thank You
    You'll hear a lot from Drinkwitz starting tomorrow. And as long as I'm not traveling for hoops, I'll be in Columbia to cover practices.
    One of my frustrations with MBB is their lack of getting open 3-pt opportunities. No one seems capable of getting themselves open.. And when they do enough passing to get an open look, the wrong player has the shot. I don't know how many times the ball is in Pickett's hands (not my choice for a 3) and he drives from the corner. Thinking about it, I don't know who I would feel really comfortable to take an open 3.. Pinson, D Smith, Mk Smith,and Watson in that order most likely.
  • When Pickett is right he's a great driver and cutter. He's not the best at finishing at the rim, but he can get to the paint. He's capable of knocking down 3s. Not shooting a great percentage but you don't go into a game expecting him to be a major threat from outside. This team gets open looks. Sometimes it's by design of the defense.
  • In your opinion do you think the Eli Drinkwitz hire was a good one? Have your peers and others in the SEC expressed to you that it was a good hire? I personally love his enthusiasm and his take on recruiting. I think he's going to be a good fit personally. My concern is that he hasn't had much experience as a head coach.
    We'll know if he's a good hire after he actually coaches a game, but so far I think he gets a passing grade for everything he's done this offseason, from recruiting to hiring to public relations. Drinkwitz is fairly well respected nationally given he's only been a head coach for one year. The only part about his hiring that's drawn some criticism is the salary. After the problems Sterk had with the hiring process that cost MU leverage when it came to paying whoever they were going to hire.
    For the second straight week I've transported the Chat from my home office to Cuonzo Martin's press conference. I'll pass along any news or notes then get back to your questions.
    Cuonzo Martin on Alabama: "I know they're going to play guys that can shoot 3s. Don't know about Petty." John Petty has been out a couple games with an injury but MU is going to prepare as if he'll play.
    Martin on Reed Nikko: He's always been a guy about his business representing his family and his university ... Did a great job changing his body. Slimmed down and added muscle mass the last two years. ... This year he struggled after Tilmon got hurt then had some success. "Now you're seeing a different basketball player."
    Does MU currently have the right players to successfully run Drink's offense? Anyone stand out in terms of really benefiting from Drink's system? Maybe Rountree?
    Rountree can work in any style of offense because he's a legit Power 5 running back. Drinkwitz prefers a physical running game - who doesn't? - and calls his offense a QB-driven system. He's got a guy with a lot of upside at that position in Shawn Robinson. We'll have a much better idea how this offense will look at the end of 15 spring practices
    Cuonzo says they're trying to find ways to unlock Pickett's offense. He looked hesitant to shoot at Ole Miss. Didn't finish a couple at the rim. He's been telling him to focus on getting 10 rebounds a game not so consumed with scoring.
    how many players have actually transferred from the Mizzou football program once they found out Drinkwitz was the new coach? And can players still transfer if they chose to? When is the deadline for a player to transfer?
  • There is no deadline to transfer. Players can leave whenever they want. Cornerback Christian Holmes has left the team and will enroll at Oklahoma State after the semester. Wideout Kam Scott has left the team - after getting arrested last month.
    The two things Martin said he never thought he'd see with this team: Guys missing so many shots at the rim and missing 3-pointers. He thought this would be a better offensive team. Says this could be a really good driving team, which would lead to more free throws. And it's a better free throw shooting team than he expected. He believes this missed shots at the rim come down to concentration. He wants players to focus on shooting off the glass and players are sometimes reluctant to do that.
  • What are you looking forward to seeing the most in spring practices?
    I'll just list a bunch ... 
    * QB competition and development. How do the QBs fit into Drinkwitz's system. 
    * Who are the playmakers at receiver?
    * What's the tight end's role in this offense?
    * Who fits in where along the O-line?
    * Who brings the pass rush? Turner and Williams are back at D-end. Who pushes them?
    * Safeties are set. What about the corner position? 
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