“It does feel like it slipped away. That game right there is a game we could have won and should have won.”
– Missouri senior Leo Lyons
So close, yet still no Final Four for the Missouri Tigers. Mizzou, which was in search of its first ever berth in the Final Four, came up just short in an 82-75 defeat at the hand of the Connecticut Huskies. Missouri played well, but just not well enough, and for the first time in the tournament it appeared that Mizzou was not the best team on the court. Some thoughts on the game…
Hate them. Plain and simple. A few people I know like them (Tom Weyerich) but I don’t quite understand how. They worked against Memphis so I was able to put up with them, but those things are seriously ugly. The University of Missouri athletic department has a serious issue on its hands. It needs to come to a conclusion as to what the school’s gold color is. I’ve seen “gold” Mizzou apparel that ranges from school bus color to highlighter yellow. Is Mizzou yellow like the football pants? Gold like the ‘M’ on the helmets? Mustard like the basketball jerseys? My suggestion is to ditch the mustard, ditch trying to come up with a “gold” stitch color and just go with straight up yellow. I’m not talking Oregon yellow, but yellow like the football pants. The same yellow that fans are encouraged to wear to games. Teams such as West Virginia and Minnesota pull off “gold” much better than Mizzou.
Thoughts on the actual game…
Bad referees are not the reason Mizzou lost the game, but man were the refs bad. Maybe this is just my biased opinion but it always seems that Missouri ends up on the wrong side of poor officiating. Now, don’t get me wrong, Mizzou did get plenty of calls to go their way today. But there were many more that went against them. Too often officials are afraid to call fouls on marquee players. Missouri, which doesn’t have any real, “big name” players suffers because of this. In Columbia, Blake Griffin got whatever he wanted. If he told the refs it was out of bounds off of Missouri, that’s what the referees called. Today, Hasheem Thabeet got the favorable treatment. Several times officials were scared to call Thabeet for a foul. They would avoid it by A) assigning the foul to a different Connecticut player in the area B) not calling any foul C) making a completely incorrect call and assigning a foul to a player on the opposing team (i.e. Leo’s charge). That in no way was an offensive foul! A no call would have been appropriate. Better yet, a blocking foul (which you know would have been called if it was Leo blocking and Thabeet attacking), would have been the better call. While it certainly did not cost Missouri the game, the officiating was certainly not favoring the Tigers.
Lack of Someone Unexpected Stepping Up
In the loss to UConn, Missouri had three players who scored in double digits – Lawrence, Lyons, and DeMarre. No one had more that 13 points. Justin Safford was the next highest scoring Mizzou player with nine. A nice effort from Safford, but not the entire spark that Mizzou needed. Today the Tigers did not have English off the bench for 13 like they did against Cornell. They did not have English off the bench for 17 like they did against Marquette. They did not have five players in double figures including a career high 23 from J.T. Tiller , like they did against Memphis. Instead, Missouri got solid to below-average games from everyone. Below average not in effort, but in scoring. Overall, Mizzou played well. They played hard. But the absence of an extraordinary game from one individual player cost Missouri in this one. To beat a team as good as UConn, the Tigers were going to need something special and they did not have that.
Mizzou got outrebounded 45-26. Hard to win when that happens. Hell, hard to lose by only 7 when that happens.
Free Throw Margin
UConn shot 26-32 from the free throw line. Missouri shot 6-12. Against Memphis, Missouri could get away with shooting like that. Against Connecticut, not so much.
In the end, a great season
Like I wrote about earlier, it is important to keep in mind the accomplishments of this team. For those that aren’t familiar, a quick review of what this team did:
– School record for wins (31)
– First ever Big 12 championship for the Men’s basketball team
– Biggest win turnaround from one season to the next in school history (+15)
– Biggest win turnaround from one season to the next in the NCAA this year (+15)
– Equaled school record for furthest NCAA Tournament run (Elite Eight)
– Set school record for most postseason wins in one year including the Big 12 Tournament (6)
– Undefeated record at home (18-0)
– Beat Kansas for the first time under Mike Anderson
– Won at Texas for the first time in… well, a long time
-Teams Mizzou beat that at one point or another in the season were ranked in the top 25:
– DeMarre Carroll earned 1st team All Big 12 honors
– Leo Lyons earned 3rd team All Big 12 honors
– J.T. Tiller was named the Big 12’s (co) defensive player of the year
– Matt Lawrence was named the Big 12’s (co) sixth man of the year
– J.T. Tiller earned honorable mention for the All Big 12 team
I will make another post re-capping the season, but what a season it was. Would the Final Four have been nice? Yes. Did Missouri have an amazing season? Yes. That is why at Sunday afternoon, when the team arrives back at Mizzou Arena, I will be there. I encourage you to do the same.