Greetings, chatters. Thanks for joining today's conversation. Mizzou football is nearly two weeks into preseason camp. Mizzou men's hoops has added a couple commitments for crucial 2021 recruiting class. The SEC is full steam ahead toward playing a football season this fall. Plenty to discuss. I'll be here or the next couple hours to take your questions.
I'll say this much for Jim Sterk. One of his priorities when he came to Mizzou was building connections in parts of the state outside of the two major markets and Boone County. One of his first goals was to assign a volunteer athletics representative in each of the 114 councils established in every Missouri county by the university’s extension office. He wanted to have an open dialogue with alums in all corners of the state, folks who felt they had been left behind in the past. Now, he's had a lot on his plate the last year, from the NCAA investigation and appeals process to managing through a pandemic. I can understand if some of those outreach efforts haven't been as vigorous here lately. But it has been a priority from the start of his tenure.
Martin's staff has clearly hit some snags in the St. Louis area with some high-profile misses. Then, for a multitude of reasons, the product on the floor has damaged the sales pitch. It's a much easier sell when you can show that the program is on the rise and playing meaningful games in the month of March. I like the Durugordon addition. After interviewing him yesterday and getting to know more about his background and his development, he seems like an ideal Cuonzo player. He's versatile, a bigger, physical guard who cares about playing defense and being a team player. If he's good enough for Tom Crean, Bruce Pearl and Bobby Hurley, that's a player who should bring some value to your roster.
I'm touching on that very topic for tomorrow's story. It's a logjam. Logan Christopherson is in the mix. Brendan Scales is right there. Niko Hea really impressed last year's staff. Messiah Swinson still might be the best pure athlete of the bunch. I'm not convinced the tight ends are going to catch a lot of passes this year. But you could see multiple tight ends find roles in the offense. Drinkwitz mixes up his formations a lot.
The staff isn't changing. For one, the athletics department is in a hiring freeze. Martin will go into year four with Cornell Mann, Chris Hollender and Marco Harris back as his assistants.
I don't think Kim will take another job as an assistant. His next job is as a head coach somewhere. He's developing a really strong reputation as a recruiter.
I'll go with Drew Buggs. He's a natural facilitator. That will be his role. His addition frees up Pinson to be more of a scorer, which as we saw last year is his natural role in this offense. As for the team's leading scorer, I'll go with Dru Smith or Pinson. Dru Smith can score in so many different ways. He'll be a better 3-point shooter with Buggs handling the ball more. MU really didn't have many sets for Smith to come off screens and shoot 3s last year. That can change with Buggs at the point. As for rebounding, easy answer is Tilmon. But Mitchell Smith will be a factor. He had his best rebounding season last year and led the team.
Because his team only has two positives. Yes, the numbers aren't good for the student body. Well over 200 positive cases for Mizzou students after just three days of class. (By 160 you were referring to the number of positive cases among Mizzou students, not the city of Columbia. The campus number was up to 228 as of Wednesday. Boone County's active case number is 468.) But that doesn't mean the football team can't have a season. The SEC wants to see low better public health rates, but ultimately if the teams are healthy and functional, the league could press forward with a season.
That's still a bit of a mystery. I'm not sure Nesbitt ever expressed any desire to play for Missouri. Martin's staff might have gotten the message early he wasn't interested. If not, then there's something the staff clearly doesn't like about him or sees something that other staffs don't see.
With two fewer games and no nonconference lightweights, it's not going to be fair to compare Mizzou's stats this year to past seasons. Sacks per game will be the more relevant statistic. Should we expect dramatic progress from a front four that loses a third-round draft pick and doesn't add a significant newcomer? I'm not sold. A healthy Tre Williams will have to bring some rush off the edge. Chris Turner has to deliver more. A third edge rusher needs to step up. Maybe that's Sci Martin.
I commend both of them for taking a stand and doing what they believe is right peacefully. I've been impressed by both of those guys the last few months and how they've handled their platforms - just like I was impressed by Adam Wainwright's comments a few weeks ago. Professional athletes have far less to lose than the Mizzou players in 2015 had at stake when they demonstrated, but that doesn't take away from their efforts to bring awareness to the topic. I don't personally agree with every issue at the heart of some protests we're seeing, but that's not the point. I admire the athletes taking a stand, especially knowing in that in this state, in this market, in this political climate they're going to absorb a lot of criticism, a lot of it hateful.
Hard to gauge right now. I think people are more concerned with what's happening in the country outside of sports. I'm teaching a freshman writing course at Mizzou and the students I've been around just want to make sure there classes keep going and that they don't get sick. The SEC wants to play football. We know that. But basketball seems very much up in the air, at least in terms of where, when and how the games will be played. If the SEC/Big12/ACC pull the plug on football ultimately, I don't see how they plan to have other sports - unless there's a readily available vaccine by then.
If you don't like this year's team, the good news is the 2021-22 team is going to look completely different with five seniors on the current roster. This year is going to hinge on how much their experience matters against teams that might have more talent. Can Tilmon finish his career with his best season? Can Pinson play like the guy who looked like a first-team All-SEC guard for two weeks? Can Dru Smith be the efficient offensive machine he was earlier in his career? Can Mark Smith stay healthy? Lots of knowns on a team that should be the SEC's most experienced, but to have a breakthrough they have to play like an experienced team - the kind that doesn't have reckless fouls and turnovers, the kind that plays smart, disciplined defense, the kind that knows its strengths and weaknesses and doesn't play beyond its roles.
Either the Bubba Wallace column or the Cardinals' COVID piece - way back when the team had only two positive tests in Milwaukee. They both took me out of my comfort zone and that was a refreshing change. Thanks again.