Last Year’s Performance:
Last year was honestly quite an amazing year. The Tigers did a complete 180-degree with the help of new coach Cuonzo Martin and improved upon an 8-24 record, to a 20-13 record. We suffered through three quite horrendous years of Tiger basketball and now Mizzou hoops looks to be restored. Martin brought the fourth best-recruiting class in the nation to Columbia and really made the best of it.
Unfortunately, we did not get to see Michael Porter Jr. play except three games. But Cuonzo still overcame the adversity of Porter’s injury and turned the program around aimed it in the right direction. Many guys stepped up last year and helped carry this Tiger team to its first NCAA tournament appearance in nearly five years. Unfortunately, Mizzou did not have a whole lot of postseason success.
In the SEC tournament, the Tigers would play against Georgia who we earlier had mopped the floor with, 68-56. This game had a lot more anticipation than usual though. Why you may ask? Michael Porter Jr. was making his long-awaited return. But of course us Mizzou fans can't have nice things., and the Tigers fell short 62-60. Luckily we made it into the NCAA tournament as the 9th seed, and our round of 64 matchup would be against Florida State. Thanks to Jordan Barnett being suspended just before the game because of a DUI, we struggled without one of our best 3-point shooters, and defenders, and fell to the Seminoles 67-54. But even though we didn't have any postseason success, this program was clearly headed in the right direction.
Key Players Lost:
Kassius Robertson: 16.3ppg, 43% from 3. (Graduation). Robertson’s loss hurts the most for sure. Robertson was a leading scorer and was an overall leader for this team. Anytime you needed a big-time three, Robertson was there. I'm afraid Missouri doesn't have a guy like that this year.
Jordan Barnett: 13 ppg, 5rpg. (Graduation). Barnett’s loss hurts quite a bit as well. Barnett was also a very good 3-0point shooter, and defender. Barnett was also very athletic and was a good rebounder. Barnett was a great player, but honestly, I think he can be replaced.
Michael Porter Jr: 10ppg, 6.7rpg, 30% from 3. (Draft). Porter's career was short-lived to say the least. Porter had to undergo surgery on his back on Nov 21st. Porter luckily was able to get back on the floor for three games but did not do that much and some will say he actually hurt the team. But let me tell you something whether you like it or not. Porter was a vital piece in turning this program around and brought Mizzou basketball back onto the map. Porter wasn’t even near 100% but still came back and fought for his team. Porter supported his teammates through the thick and thin and gave Mizzou fans hope yet again for a basketball program that had been a dumpster fire for three years. Porter may not have had an effect on the court, but he damn sure did off of it.
Jontay Porter: 9.9ppg, 6.8rpg, 36% from 3. (Injury). Porter's shocking injury throws this season into chaos, as he was pegged to be the leader and linchpin of this team. He likely faces a 9-12 month recovery time, and must decide how best to turn his talent into an NBA career. He is a long and athletic player, must most impressive for Jontay, is how mature he is for an incredibly young player.
Jeremiah Tilmon: 8.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg. Tilmon is a huge returning player for this team. Tilmon brings great energy on the floor and is great under the rim, something this program has not had since Alex Oriakhi. Tilmon is a decent rebounder and a great finisher. Tilmon needs to work on not getting into foul trouble, because now that Jontay Porter is out for the season, Tilmon will get much more time on the court.
Jordan Geist: 7.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.9 ast. Geist will be taking his last ride this year as a Tiger, and it seems like he's been here forever. Geist will bring great defense to this team, as well as a reliable perimeter shooting threat. Geist will probably be the starting point guard due to experience, with Xavier Pinson only being a freshman. Geist needs to work on not turning the ball over so much this season, as his carelessness cost the Tigers many games like agianst Florida.
Kevin Puryear: 8.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg. Puryear will also be playing his final campaign as a Tiger this season. Puryear is a very solid player and has a great work ethic. Puryear will be a pick and pop kind of guy and will be hoping to improve on a measly 25% 3-point percentage. Puryear needs to start becoming a more consistent shooter, and if he does he will be a very solid player yet again.
Xavier Pinson: Pinson is a 6'2" point guard, coming from the Windy City. Pinson is known for being a pass-first point guard who has a knack for distributing the ball. Pinson is also very good around the rim, due to his athleticism, and insane vertical, proving that after winning the dunk contest at Mizzou Madness. Expect Pinson to come off the bench, and look like a near replica of Phil Pressey.
Torrence Watson: Watson is a pure scorer. The kid has the ability to put the ball through the net, from anywhere on the floor. I watched Watson a couple of times all throughout his impressive high school career and he is something special. Watson will be a leading scorer for this team, and in my opinion, there is no doubt about it.
Javon Pickett: Pickett is a pure scorer as well. Pickett was a guy that did not get as much hype as Watson in his high school career. But Pickett has been getting great praise from his fellow coaches, and especially teammates, due to being a natural scorer and being a talented perimeter shooter. I could see Pickett being a Kim English type of player here at Mizzou, and I’m excited to see how his freshman year pans out.
Honestly, due to Porter’s injury, my expectations are somewhat unclear. I originally thought that this team could win about 22 games and finish around the top-6 in the conference. The real question is, how big is Porter’s loss to this team. That question will later be answered. I say this team can finish around 7th or 8th in the conference and can win around 20 games. I’m not ready to hit the panic button because of Porter yet.
Overall record: 21-10