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.

    OK, chatters. We're hunkered down in Casa Matter (or is it bunkered down?) and I've got nothing to do for then next couple hours than take your questions. 
    Let's share our isolation set-ups as we get started. Family of five here trying to stay sane with the help of streaming services, board games, a little bit of sunshine (but not enough) and an early jump on school work. It's still spring break for the 10-year-old Matter twins - and it's always spring break for 3-year-old Matter singleton. Mrs. Matter is the nurse at the older boys' school, so she's home as long as they're home but doing an amazing job making sure her students are properly fed each week. She's far more essential in this community than her scribbling partner, whose home office is suddenly invaded by intruders. So, excuse the occasional interruption.
    I saw you tweeting about the 1995 Mizzou Indiana tournament game so I decided to watch that game and the UCLA game. My question is did Paul O'Linney get a shot in the NBA? I don't think people appreciate how awesome he was in those two games, he carried the team on his back.
    O'Liney wasn't drafted in 1995 but played some overseas. At 6-2 he was probably too small to play on the wing in the NBA as a non-point guard - and I'm not sure he had the handles or the passing to be a point guard. Good shooter, great scorer but more of a tweener at the next level. I had to look up his college shooting numbers, and he actually wasn't an elite 3-point shooter like some might remember. He shot 38.5 percent in his year and a half at Mizzou. That's very good, not quite elite.
    Has Drink made plans to virtually install playbook with the offense. Seems like potential short preseason will make it more difficult for new coaches
    No idea. I was hoping to talk to him this week but he didn't grant any media access. Hopefully that changes next week. I haven't talked to him since the second spring practice, which seems like months ago. Everything is digital these days, so I would assume the playbooks are all available on iPads - and that would have been the case before practices were shut down because of the virus. 
    But this brings up a larger point that is relevant for Mizzou right now. Teams with first-year head coaches are at a decided disadvantage right now because they're still in the early stages of installing systems and evaluating talent and creating depth charts. Assuming the shutdown ends sometime late spring or summer, teams will have to hold a significant number of practices before the season starts. Teams like Missouri - throw in Ole Miss, Arkansas and Mississippi State - will get time to catch up. But they'll be behind their peers right now, the staffs that have staff continuity from last season. 
    Tell Coach Drink to get the Appy State football off his fireplace mantle the next time he wants to vid-lecture us.
    I've got a lot to talk to him about. I'm not sure that'll make the list. 
    You can always eliminate the middle man (me) and tell him directly on Twitter. He'll respond. 
    Which of the Cuonzo Martin "better young men through basketball" pillars was Tray Jackson guilty of ignoring? Didn't hustle? Didn't like to play defense? Pouted on the bench? Overweight? Couldn't pull a 3.0? You could see his 4-star talent. Why did he have to always sit?
  • Number one, defense. He didn't play much of it. Mitchell Smith was a much better defender, played with more energy, sacrificed his body to make stops. Jackson didn't play with much physicality except to reach and foul. 
    Obviously there were some offensive flashes for Jackson, and you can make a case he could have developed into a better defender and more polished offensive player with more playing time. But we only see the games and not practices. Maybe he was a lousy practice player and didn't earn the playing time others were receiving. We've learned that you win over Martin with toughness and work ethic. Why does Pickett play so much? He works on his game more than any other player and has never backed down from a challenge on the floor. It's fair to say Martin might have a blind spot for the overachievers, but that's clearly how he evaluates and measures his players. So after three years it shouldn't be a surprise. Will it ultimately cost him a chance to run this program long-term? Not sure. The most obvious solution is to build a team with players who are both talented and tough/hard-working/gritty, etc. Those players do exist. 
    Realistic expectations for QB Shawn Robinson? Top 5 in the SEC? Middle of the pack in SEC? Among the lesser QBs in the SEC?
    Middle of the pack quarterbacking from this program would be a slight upgrade from 2019. When healthy, Kelly Bryant was squarely in that second tier among SEC QBs. You had Burrow and Tua in a class of their own. Behind those two, you had a crowded middle class: Jake Fromm (who didn't have a great junior year), Kyle Trask, Kellen Mond, Bryant and Jarrett Guarantano. Obviously, Bryant wasn't the same after the Kentucky game and Mizzou's offense barely functioned the rest of the season. 
    When you look across the SEC, you'l have new starters at Bama, LSU, and Georgia. Trask might be the preseason All-SEC QB. He's not an All-American by any means but he had 25 touchdown passes for an 11-win team. Stanford transfer KJ Costello is the new QB at Mississippi State. He'll throw for 40 TDs under Mike Leach. You've got a couple intriguing QBs at Ole Miss now in Lane Kiffin's offense. Feleipe Franks is the new QB at Florida. 
    Not a loaded crop of great quarterbacks, and it's still too early to really know what to expect from Robinson, if he indeed is the starting quarterback at Missouri. He had mixed results at TCU - in a league that doesn't play much defense. But new system, new QB-driven offense, new coach. If he's the guy and fits in smoothly into Drinkwitz's offense, it's fair to expect him to be among the top five in the league. 
    Then again, this time last year nobody was talking about Joe Burrow being one of the best QBs in the SEC. All the focus was on Tua and Fromm - and then Burrow had the best season by a QB in NCAA history. We can think we know a lot this time of year. 
    Love the "30 for Matter" series! Question: Outlook for Albert O in the draft? Pluses and minuses with him? Thanks!
    Thanks for reading. I'll have No. 24 posted on the site after the chat.
    As for Albert, here's my amateur  scouting report from someone who covered all his games over the last three years:
    Plusses: Elite speed. Dude can fly for a 260/270-pound tight end. He can jump and snatch a ball out of the air in the end zone. Too big for corners, too fast for linebackers.  
    Minuses: Too many drops. Too many penalties. Lacks focus at times. Not always that interested in blocking. For a guy that big, he should be overpowering defenders on the line. Doesn't have a lot of wiggle in the open field. For a guy that big with so much speed, he doesn't separate from defenders before the catch. He's great running in a straight line but not the most elusive guy in coverage. Does he have a killer instinct? Does he play through pain? 
    I talked to Yahoo Sports draft analyst Eric Eldhom about Albert just yesterday. Here's what he said: "Opinion are split on him. There’s some confusion why he didn’t perform better. Was it a scheme issue? Was it quarterbacking? But running the way he did at the Combine - I wish he would have done the full battery of tests - but it has to help him, especially this year. It doesn’t feel like a great tight end class." I'm not sure why Albert didn't do the other tests at the Combine. He skipped the vertical jump, the broad jump, the bench, etc. He ran his 40 and that was it. Maybe he was saving the rest for Mizzou's pro day. If so, he might regret that with all pro days canceled. 
    I'm sure some teams will love his 40 time in Indy, but without the pro day and individual workouts, more teams are going to have to rely on his 2019 tape when evaluating him. And I think the 2019 tape works against him. 
    Hi Dave and thank you for taking time for the weekly chat during these difficult times. I have a few comment before asking my question. First - Gordo's column yesterday on Woody Widenhofer was very insightful to our football program of how, with the exception of the GP era, we cannot get over the hump of mediocrity. Second - With all of the signings for free agents in the NFL, how players cannot come out with a message of thanking an organization and the fans for giving them the opportunity to play for them after agreeing to big contracts - I find it shallow and short sighted of them not to be appreciative when there are so many financial problems in our country due to the virus. So after all my rants, here is my question to you - Do you think football recruits will commit quickly to a college once the recruitment period starts again because they don't want to face the uncertainty of not having a chance at a scholorship because of all the virus issues that could still come into play? Thanks for all you do Dave!
    I'm not sure I follow your point about NFL players not thanking fans or their college programs. The bulk of Mizzou's NFL players are always supportive of MU and fairly engaged with MU fans. Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin, Sean Weatherspoon, Markus Golden, Drew Lock. I could go on and on. Was there someone specific from MU who you were talking about?
    As for recruits, I'm not sure the virus will accelerate the commitment timeline unless the NCAA continues to adjust the calendar for dead periods/contact periods or possibly move the December signing date. For now, teams can still contact recruits and recruits can still commit to schools. They just can't visit in-person for at least a few more weeks. I'd pump the brakes on expecting any kind of massive change to the process. There might be a smaller window for teams to schedule campus visits. Mizzou could be in for more of a crunch than other schools while because of the NCAA sanctions that limit recruiting visits. 
    Maybe I missed this somewhere but what was the “Bat signal” with out a commitment about?
  • No football recruits have publicly committed to Mizzou since Drinkwitz put out his tweet the other day. Here's the deal, and it's something everyone who follows MU recruiting has to realize. It sure seems like new coach is going to tweet his commitment signal the minute he hangs up the phone with a recruit who says he's committed. That doesn't mean the recruit is ready to tell the world he's committed to a school. And Drinkwitz sure as heck isn't telling any of us in the media which kid has committed - on or off the record. (On the record would be an NCAA violation.) Recruits want to break their own news in 2020, but Drinkwitz is making sure everyone knows he landed a recruit, even if the recruit isn't ready to publicize his decision. So, the world waits, which is fine with me. Before everyone had a social media addiction, lots of recruits did it this way and kept their commitments quiet until they were ready to share the news.
  • Your comment that nobody works on their game more than Pickett caught my attention. Seems like folks in here like to talk/ask about the regression by Pickett. Has he regressed? If so, then the logical next question is: is he working on the right things?
    Regressed how exactly? 
    If you compare his freshman year numbers with his sophomore year numbers, here's what changed on a production per 100 possessions. (His minutes were essentially the same this year but he came off the bench more often)
    Scoring: Down
    Assists: Down slightly
    Rebounds: Up slightly
    Turnovers: Down
    Steals: Down slightly
    Blocks: Up slightly
    Fouls: Down
    2-point FG %: Up
    FT %: Up
    3-point FG %: Down
    Offensive rating: Up slightly
    Defensive rating: Up slightly
    Usage: Down
    For the bulk of the season, Pickett was more of a role player than he was as a freshman, hence the drop in usage rate. He wasn't a great 3-point shooter as a freshman and was worse as a sophomore. His offensive game is cutting and slashing. He got to the foul line more often this year but that's where he's got room for growth - and finishing at the rim. In a perfect world, he's a fourth scoring option or a valuable sixth or seventh man. He can be a really effective perimeter defender. Look at what he did on Anthony Edwards in the second half this year and what he did against Mason Jones at home. But he's limited offensively. That doesn't mean he's useless to this team. He's widely respected in that locker room. He's an important part of this team. The problem is I don't think you can build an offense around him as a core contributor. I don't believe that was ever Martin's intention - nor was it the plan at any point this year. 
    Where would Mizzou football be as a program right now had they been able to land these local prospects over the years: Ezekiel Elliott, Monte Ball, Laurence Maroney?
    Those players all had great careers, but it's not like Mizzou had a crummy running game during their college careers. Even during that awful 2012 season, Mizzou still had a 1,000-yard rusher in Kendial Lawrence. Maroney's peak years at Minnesota were 2004-05. Mizzou had Damien Nash at the time - he left for the NFL after the '04 season - then Marcus Woods/Tony Temple in 2005. Maroney clearly would have been an upgrade that season, though Temple developed into a solid Big 12 back in 2006-07.
    Montee Ball's best years at Wisconsin were 2011-12. Great college back in Wisconsin's system. Not sure he would have been as productive in Mizzou's spread system at the time. Mizzou had Henry Josey in 2011. He was a perfect fit for the spread, especially with a running threat at QB in  James Franklin. Who knows how different things would have gone in 2012 had Josey not gotten hurt in 2011.
    Elliott's best years at Ohio State were 2014-15. Mizzou had a nice 1-2 punch in 2014 with Marcus Murphy and Russell Hansbrough. Obviously the backfield is better with Elliott. But that's still an 11-win team without Zeke. Now, 2015, clearly that team could have used an elite running back like that alongside freshman QB Drew Lock. Who knows if everything that happened that fall unfolds the same way if Mizzou doesn't lose five of six games midseason.
    Your picks for surprise (positive) contributors to next season's football effort?
    If I'm expecting good things from certain players then it's not really a surprise, right? Maybe you mean a surprise to casual fans who aren't really paying attention? 
    How about the tight end position. Good chance Daniel Parker misses more preseason practice time. His eye situation isn't a minor deal from what I understand. Is this Brendan Scales' chance to become an impact player?
    The two running backs give Mizzou one of the stronger tandems in the SEC. No real surprise contributors there, unless maybe Elijah Young sneaks up and steals some touches. 
    At wideout, Hazelton is by far the most accomplished player in the group. Knox has a chance to solidify one of the outside spots. Banister has a chance to catch a lot of passes in the slot. Who else can move into the rotation and become an impact player? Since last fall camp I've been intrigued by Maurice Massey. He's a huge target and can become a dangerous downfield threat if he can catch the ball cleanly. But he was hurt in the first few spring practices. I've got to think Massey or CJ Boone have to become a productive part of the passing game for this offense to be better than average. 
    Same question, but for basketball: Jayson Tatum, Bradley Beal, Tyler Hansrobough?
    Hansbrough might have saved the Snyder regime. He was a generational kind of player - and I don't throw that word around lightly. But maybe more important, he wasn't a one-and-done guy. Mizzou could have built around him more than you can build around a guy who's on campus for nine months then bolts for the NBA, like would have been the case with Tatum. 
    Kim Anderson was Missouri's coach when Tatum chose Duke, but Mizzou lost him during the Haith years. MU was still on his list but had fallen off his radar long before Anderson was hired. 
    Good morning Dave. Which spring or summer program do you feel is the biggest loser in terms of lost potential for a strong year? Who are some of the individual players that are taking the biggest hit on a promising season/career? Thanks
  • For baseball and softball, they weren't going to make the postseason anyway, so if we're just talking about what was lost this spring, not so much from a team perspective. Now, there are some baseball players who lost out on the chance to improve their draft stock, so from an individual basis, those guys might have lost a lot by not having two months of games to play.
    Mizzou's track team wasn't going to win the SEC, but some individuals missed out on chances to have great seasons. I think about Sophie Rivera from Brentwood High. She had a chance to qualify for the Summer Olympics for the Puerto Rican national team, but she'll have to wait another year for that chance. 
    Hi Dave. I second the kudos for the Top 30 list. Josey’s TD to clinch the trip to Atlanta is my favorite recent memory. My biggest concern with missed practices ahead of next season is the meshing of the offensive line. What is your concern? Thanks
    The NCAA/SEC can't let teams just jump into the season without practice time. If there's a 2020 season, there will be some kind of preseason training camp, if not minicamps between the spring and fall. O-line is a group that needs to learn how to play together with pads and at full speed against real defenders. QBs and receivers need to develop chemistry, too, but they can work on that on their own without full pads and defenders on the field.
    You often reference Martin as being a specialist on commitment flips, but Covid has effectively halted recruiting for the time being which will make that approach a bit more difficult. Add to that the possibility of additional transfers out of the program this year and 5 scholarships opening up next year, what does Martin need to do to shore up the lineup for potential year 5 running the basketball program? A grad transfer could be a one-year bandaid, but just adds to the lineup problems for the 21/22 season. Any thoughts?
    I wouldn't say the virus has halted recruiting. It's halted in-person visits. Teams are still contacting recruits and transfers and those players are still committing to other schools. 
    Right now, grad transfers are the best available kind of players on the market. Instant impact players. But that's not a long-term solution. Especially post 2021 when MU will have to replace all three Smiths and Tlimon - assuming all the current players return for next year. Martin's in a tough spot because they've only landed one high school recruit for this current class. 
    Dave - In some regards, I applaud Barry Odom for bringing in Derek Dooley for Drew Lock's senior season. I don't really understand what a pro style offense looks like but it seemed to work for Drew and the team that one year. But why was Dooley's offense not good for Kelly Bryant? I know he did not have the arm like Drew, but he had so many other qualities and skills as a quarterback that could help the team? Thank You
    There's really no such thing as a pro-style offense in 2020. Pro offenses look more like college offenses than ever before. The scheme for Bryant was fine through six games. The problem was they never adapted once he got hurt. Once Bryant wasn't a running threat, the offense collapsed. He had to beat defenses with his arm and he wasn't equipped to do that. It wasn't so much about his arm talent or arm strength. He just didn't have the accuracy or the decision-making to make the offense function. The offense had problems and the staff didn't have the right answers.
    Hi, Mr. Matter. Do you think that Martin's "defense first" mantra hurts him when recruiting players? Most guys, I think, want to show off their scoring chops.
    No, I don't. Yes, he puts a high value on defense, but it's not like offense isn't important to him. He made the point throughout this season that he wanted this team to play at a faster tempo and he encouraged players to shoot 3s in games if they're open. In the aftermath of games he tends to focus more on how the team played defensively, so there becomes this misnomer that all he cares about is defense. That's just not true. He believes defense is something that teams can control and doesn't hinge on pure talent the way that offense does. Plus, he doesn't recruit with the sales pitch, "Come to Mizzou to play defense." That's his primary focus when measuring and evaluating his teams on the floor, but he knows his best teams have been his best offensive teams.
  • If Albert O. makes it to the 5th round and you only have average TEs you take him. You can keep him on practice squad if he is not quite there yet. Would he be available by the 5th?
    I doubt he's still around by then, especially with a weak tight end class.
    Good Day to you hope you are doing well and thank you for the chats. I like Coach Martin a lot, wish he could have gotten more out of the Porter brothers. Can you tell us about the 7'3" that they have coming in. I am hoping that Tilman comes back for his senior year and can work with the new recruit. Thank You
    by Good Day hope you are well and safe. I really lik 3/26/2020 6:13:33 PM
    Jordan Wilmore is still a bit of a mystery. He's gone to multiple high schools and hasn't exactly put up really outstanding statistics. He's huge and appears to be stronger and more filled out than Okongo, the other 7-footer on the roster. I can't speak much about his skill level or his upside athletically. Interesting prospect, obviously.
    NCAA President Mark Emmert makes me sick to my stomach, bemoaning the “financial disruption” caused by canceling the NCAA tournament. I can see why he would be disrupted from commuting from Seattle to Indy on his private jet, and how NCAA coaches could be disrupted from making their annual millions, all on the backs of non paid college athletes. I hope the press closely monitors how the NCAA spends its war chest during and after this crisis.
    His organization did just miss out on its biggest moneymaker, so he's right in the fact that this is a major financial disruption. The NCAA just announced that it will distribute $225 million in June to Division I members. That's a major dropoff: Division I revenue distribution for 2020 previously was budgeted at approximately $600 million.
    Here's more from the official release: 

    Of the $225 million distribution, $50 million will come from NCAA reserves. The NCAA also has a $270 million event cancellation insurance policy, and the proceeds when received will be used to pay off a line of credit that will cover the remaining distribution within 12 months.

    To further assist with the reduction in revenue this year, Drake emphasized the NCAA is undertaking a variety of cost-cutting budget measures that will be determined in the upcoming weeks.

    “The Association has prepared for a financial catastrophic event like the one we face now,” Drake said. “While we certainly have challenges ahead, we would be in a far worse position had it not been for this long-standing, forward-focused planning.”

    The Division I Board of Directors determined how the distribution will be shared among members.

    “Our priority is to ensure that we are able to support student-athletes and continue to provide opportunity as broadly as possible,” said Division I board chair Eli Capilouto, president at Kentucky.

    For this year’s Division I distribution, $53.6 million will be distributed through the Equal Conference Fund, which is split equally among Division I basketball playing conferences that meet athletic and academic standards to play in the men’s basketball tournament. The remainder will be proportionally distributed through the remainder of all other funds. The funds will be unrestricted to provide latitude to conferences.

    Dave, I wanted to ask you about Coach Drink and the 'bat signal'. Have you heard anything about it?
    I touched on this earlier in the chat. Please scroll down. Thank you
    To isolate Pickett as the type of player Martin loves says it all about the progress and future of the program. Carry the lunch bucket, work hard - yes. Lead the program - not so much.
  • Yes, he loves Pickett. He also loved Kassius Robertson, Jontay Porter, Jordan Geist, Josh Richardson, an NBA starter who played for him at Tennessee, Jaylen Brown, a budding NBA superstar who played for him at Cal. So, again, just because he loves a player like Pickett doesn't mean he devalues players who are more gifted athletically. If Pickett played for Norm Stewart he'd be considered a cult hero.
    dave not a sports question, have you found this to be the most difficult time of your journalistic career ?as a sports junkie this has been really difficult but trying to keep things in perspective
    Challenging, yes, somewhat. But it hasn't been hard. Think about it, other than the SEC basketball tournament and a handful of football practices (which can be fairly dreadful to cover), what am I missing out on in terms of my beat? Yes, I usually write a few baseball stories every spring, but by and large, April through July is the quiet time on the Mizzou beat. There will be news to cover. There are countless interesting angles to hit on. We'll do our best to report on how Mizzou and the local sports world is responding to the virus. 
    One change for me - and this is hardly a complaint considering the real-world challenges people are facing right now - is all my interviews are over the phone. Adults are far more cooperative and accessible over the phone than high school recruits and college kids. 
    Dave, I love your Best of Missouri too, especially the old quotes and what they are doing now. Does Nurse Matter get any input on the rankings?
    Funny  you say that. I shared some of the list with her a few days ago and she caught a noticeable omission. I was already locked into my list of 30 athletes, so I had to scramble and find room for her suggestion. She saved me.
    Hi Dave, how do envision the Mizzou Football Team getting to the Scholarship Limit for next season without Spring Football to evaluate players as well as developing a depth chart? How do you envision the Football Season starting back up...full contact OTA's in the Summer, etc?
    There will have to be some system of minicamps before the season gets here, but it's a good question. If MU is over its limit, the team can't wait until the fall to trim the fat. That might lead to some difficult conversations and choices this spring and summer. Usually that part of roster building takes care of itself. Players who realize they aren't in the plans for next season decided to transfer. This year, the new staff might have to force the issue more - and without much of a body of work to use as a reference.
    OK, friends. That's all the time I have today. Stay safe this weekend and come back next week for more chatting fun.
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