Thursday, February 04, 2016

Sleeping with the Enemy, Mizzou Tigers

I reached out to Chris Bohkay over at Rock M Nation and asked him to tell us a bit about Mizzou and get his thoughts on the game.  His response is below.  If you visit Rock M Nation, please follow the rules of their site and be a positive representative of the University of Alabama.

Mizzou, well Mizzou is not a very good team right now, and frankly hasn't been for two years now. The team that went 9-22 was extremely young last year and then its best player, Jonathan Williams III transferred to Gonzaga citing chemistry issues as the main reason. Add onto that that promising freshman Montaque Gill-Caeser opted to transfer as well and you had a young team get even younger.  But there was optimism with a promising group of freshman coming in, and the expectation that the then freshman would progress in their sophomore year. No one was expecting a tournament bid or even a sniff of the NIT but a .500 record or close to it seem possible.  None of this has come to pass. The freshman are doing their best out there and have shown flashes of potential and in a few years you could see this group as being the foundation on which attractive basketball will be played again. The sophomores on the other hand seem to have not progressed since last year in any way, and that's why the team is where it is.  Throw on top of that recent self enforced sanctions following the Frank Haith era and it's not a great time to be a Mizzou fan.

Right now, Mizzou does not do much well, they are undersized so teams are able have their way under the basket and if there's a loose ball, it's probably going to fall into the hands of their opponent. Shooting has been dreadful, though they did show signs of life against Ole Miss the other night, hitting close to 50% of their three pointers. On the defensive side of things, they are not going to turn you over, won't block your shot, but they will defend your two point shots decently well. 
Mizzou's biggest weakness it seems is consistency, they've played maybe one full game well, and that's a maybe. They are prone to giving up big runs and not being able to respond to them thus putting themselves so far behind the eight ball that once they get themselves straightened out, they're down 10. And with a team that has trouble shooting the ball and no real go to scorer, that spells trouble. And as noted above, the team has real trouble rebounding, they're probably shorter than every other team in the SEC at this point and it's showing.

If I were a Bama fan, be sure to watch Wes Clark because how he goes, so go the Tigers. If he can get his shot going, and anyone else joins in then Mizzou can give you a game, but if it's him by himself or he has an off night, they're in trouble.  I've watched the Tide a few times this year and what has struck me is how competitive they've been, I think all of our heads turned when they got those big wins in November over Wichita State (minus VanVleet, but still) and Notre Dame. This team looks like a group that needed a change of scenery so to speak, the move from Grant (who I always really liked) to Johnson seems to have ignited your upperclassmen driven team. What has been surprising as  fan of a team that has to play a lot of freshman and sophomores is how few seem to be contributing this season for the Tide. It looks like Johnson has built on Grants strong defense and added some offensive punch that was sorely lacking for your team the past two years and that's probably where this game will be won.  

Looking at the game itself, it looks very tough for Mizzou. It's on the road where the team hasn't won since 2014, you guys have a tremendous defense and Mizzou has trouble scoring. It's last few road contests (not counting Kentucky, lets not mention that game) Mizzou has shown well staying in games until late and I think that's the case on Saturday. Mizzou stays within reach until about the 6 or 7 minute mark and then Bama pulls away, thinking a score 66 - 55 Alabama.

Thanks to Chris for taking the time to give us an insightful response.  Obviously, we also struggle with our post play and rebounding, so both teams may have difficulty taking advantage of the other's weaknesses.  The key for us will be to be less bad than them in the paint, shoot the ball well, and defend Clark and the perimeter.  Mizzou has some of the nicest facilities in the SEC and access to some of the most fertile recruiting grounds.  They will be back, but they have a long way to go.

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