Mizzou chat with Dave Matter

Mizzou chat with Dave Matter

Bring your Tigers basketball, football and recruiting questions, and talk to Mizzou beat writer Dave Matter in a live chat starting at 11 a.m. Thursday.

    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.
    In mulling over Cuonzo Martin’s recent underwhelming signings (that’s fair, right?) I was wondering how handicapped he is in getting Top 100 recruits by running a clean program?  I’m thinking about guys like the amoral Will Wade with his supportive LSU fan base, and even Coach K in the murky waters of the Zion recruitment. What do you think? And have you ever asked Cuonzo about the frustration level of trying to compete cleanly against the likes of Will Wade?
    Great question. 
    I think you can build a winning program in college hoops without being a brazen cheater. Obviously a lot of programs have been hit with allegations stemming from the FBI probe and other investigations. LSU is at the forefront. Kansas, Arizona, Louisville, Auburn. We can also point to a lot of programs that are clean - at least have all the appearances of being clean programs: Villanova, Gonzaga, Wisconsin, Tennessee, etc. 
    Cuonzo has a squeaky clean reputation in the coaching industry. He's still managed to sign some high-profile recruits without any recruiting allegations tossed his way. But he's not going to chase every five star if he senses something dirty. That's just not his style. I've gotten to know him pretty well the last few years and here's how I believe he views this part of the job: When he takes into account his background and childhood environment in East St. Louis, the fact that he's made it this far in life already counts as a successful career. Would championships make it more successful? Absolutely. Does he want to build a winning program at the national level? For sure. But he's not going to jeopardize his reputation or his career to give someone the free pass that he didn't need to make it this far in life. He's too classy to publicly criticize coaching peers who get in trouble, but he's made it clear in the past he hopes there's some justice for the coaches who get caught. Here's what he said a couple years ago when the FBI investigations first went public.

    “I am compliance,” he said. “I’ve always been a guy to stay on top of that, any little thing. Because at the end of the day it’s not worth it (to cheat). When I go to bed at night it’s already tough enough to sleep after losing tough games or making sure guys do what they’re supposed to do."

    I am a fourth generation mizzou graduate. I just moved back to MO. I live in Sikeston. I never realized how little Mizzou reaches out to the state outside of KC and Stl. Ole Miss gets tons of students to go there. Why doesn't MIZZOU have more of a connection here and around the state? Very disappointed with this.
    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.
    If they play all of their games, what is a successful season? My mind is that if you were to not lose by three touchdowns against Alabama or LSU and win a few more maybe 5 wins is a good season in this year. What do you think and what is your projections for the different games?
    Based on what we know about this team and the rest of the schedule, I'm going with 4-6 ... but wouldn't be shocked by 3-7 or 5-5. I'm not sold on the offense yet. The O-line has to be much improved from last year - and they lost three starters. The QB situation is still uncertain. If Vegas is setting lines on all 10 games right now, I'd expect Mizzou to be favored in only two: vs. Vanderbilt and vs. Arkansas. I can see a handful of toss-up games. At Mississippi State, at South Carolina, maybe at Tennessee. I know fans expect a win over Kentucky (finally), but expectations for this year's UK team are really high. MU will be a decided underdog against Bama, LSU, Georgia and Florida. If the Tigers win any one of those four games, that's a strong signal this staff knows what it's doing. 
    If you go 4-6 with competitive performances against the best teams on the schedule, that's OK. You chalk this up as the most unconventional season in team history and a transition year under a new staff that had three practices with its new team up until the third week of August. If you go 3-7 or 4-6 and get humiliated along the way in those losses, then you lose some of the good vibes going into 2021. The bandwagon gets a little lighter. Either way, barring an absolute disaster - we're talking 2-8 or worse with bloodbath losses - this program will benefit from a full, normal offseason and should be able to shake off any stink from 2020. 
    Seems like CM is making some
    Progress this week in recruiting. What has been his biggest issue in recruiting better prospects. I thought we could ride off of the MPJ year and recruit better. Our losses seem to be piling up
    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.
  • Who is our backup TE in football. Seems like we have a lot of good candidates
    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.
    I kinda feel like the mizzou men’s asst coaches need a shake up. Any thoughts ?
    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 realize there are a lot of spots to fill for 21/22 and his brother is already on the team, but Kaleb Brown seems to be a bit of a stretch for a power 5 conference. Usually Cuonzo waits until much later to bring in lower caliber players. Both Guess and Okongo committed summer/fall of the year they joined (and subsequently left) the team; wilmore only got an offer once we had clearly lost out on Fletcher/Love/kasubke/bradford/any other player halfway decent player from st louis/etc

    Why take brown so early?
    I, too, was a little surprised Brown committed this early. But, don't forget, this has the chance to be a huge recruiting class in terms of numbers. On paper, MU has six scholarships to fill for 2021. Here's who comes off the books after the 2020-21 season: Tilmon, all three Smiths and Buggs. Plus there's currently an open scholarship. I don't think Martin necessarily signs six players for 2021, but even a five-man class is really big by today's standards. So, if there's ever a year where you can take a bit of a gamble on someone early, this is the year. Plus, it's not really a gamble considering how well they know Kaleb Brown. Martin was developing a relationship with him before Kobe even signed with the Tigers. He's  been on the staff's radar for more than two years. 
    Maybe CM should lure Kimmy English back. Seems to be a good coach and recruiter.
  • 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.
    with so many combo guards, who do you think leads us in assists. How about pts and rebounds
  • 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.
    Tuesday’s sports page said Sterk is “pretty danged optimistc” there will be a football season this fall. Wednesday’s front page said the were 500 covid caes in Alabama and 160 in COMO. Recently i heard 13% of TXAM tests were positive. Notre Dame has gone virtual after a couple of weeks of classes.... To top it off Louisiana and Texas are enduring major hurricanes. What does Sterk know that is the basis for his optimism?
    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.
    A 6-6 three-star guard from Queens? Is Mizzou even trying to get Jordan Nesbitt, a 6-6 player from STL Christian Academy who is one of the highest-rated recruits in the country?
    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.
    Do you see us having more sacks
    This year? I know we didn’t have many last year, but I miss the Dline Zou
    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.
    You had to cover the famous player boycott at Mizzou in 2015. Just curuious about your thoughts on the Fowler-Flaherty walkout last night from the Cardinals game. Not a college thing, but you have done some columns on pro sports lately.
  • 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.
    How is excitement for men’s basketball and football in como. That’s a good number of students attending mizzou this year. Would love to see them in the stands
  • 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.
    I did a brief bit of research on this and couldn't find a recent playoff series with more mizzou affiliations than the current (well, we'll see if it's still current) Jazz/Nuggets matchup. Clarkson, MPJ and Quin. Can you think of any?
    In 2002-03, Kareem Rush's Lakers played against a Timberwolves team that included Anthony Peeler and Troy Hudson.
    In 2004-05, Peeler's Wizards played against Keyon Dooling's Heat.
    That's all I could find with a couple quick searches. Might be more. 
    I don't kow what is wrong with me, but I just don't get excited about the basketball team. Even though I keep hearing that they are making progress when will it be????? Record does not lie.
    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.
    So great to see clarkson, mpj and Quin making it big in the nba on the same court. Do JC or QS ever visit Columbia
  • I can't imagine Quin has stepped foot in Boone County since he left. He didn't exactly leave on good terms with the place. 
    Clarkson wasn't here long enough to really have any ties to the area or the program. 
    Can you think of two important keys that help us beat Bama, ga or another ranked team (and please don’t say score more pts) haha
  • Not really. 
    I don't see any of Missouri's known strengths (running back 1-2 punch, Bolton, safety tandem) as enough of a strength to overcome teams that will be better from top to bottom in most areas. A proven and clear starting quarterback would probably erase some concerns - plus an established offensive line - but with so many unknowns on this team, it's hard to find any clear-cut advantages against the four playoff-caliber teams on the schedule. 
    Just want to say that I have been impressed with this summer’s non Mizzou related articles you have had published in the PD. Your mizzou related coverage is always top notch. But these other articles have caused me to realize you are a gifted writer and have much to offer besides writing about mizzou. A big thanks to you and to the PD to allow you to expand your writing assignments.
    Thank you for the kind note.
    My bosses have allowed me to dig a little deeper in the writer's toolbox with some non-Mizzou opinion pieces in the last couple months. If anything it made me appreciate our columnists who live in that world every day. I'm a beat writer at heart, and I'm really looking forward to having games to cover - hopefully sooner than later. 
    A follow up to my compliment of your non mizzou related writings. Which of those writings did you most enjoy exploring?
    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.
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