March 21, 2012

2012 Tiger Mailbag: 10th Edition

Each Wednesday, publisher Gabe DeArmond and recruiting editor Pete Scantlebury will answer questions from subscribers in our Tiger Mailbag. This feature will allow for longer, more in-depth answers than you may get on the message board on a daily basis. To have your question in next week's mailbag, send an email to Gabe at [email protected] On to this week's inquiries:

mizzouboy714 asks: On Devonta Pollard, did the early exit from the tournament hurt our chances?

GD: As I start the answer to every Devonta Pollard question, we can't really say because we never talk to the kid. Nor does anyone else. So it's all speculation. But in nine years of covering recruiting, I've seen maybe two kids make their decisions based off the outcome of one game. Those recruiting against Missouri will use the early exit against them. Missouri, on the other hand, could say, "We just won 30 games and finished #3 in the country with seven guys. Imagine how good we could have been with you. And don't you think you could have made a three-point difference against Norfolk State?" It works both ways.

Skeltner asks: Being at the game in Omaha, I never got the feeling that anyone - the team, the fans, the band - were really into the game. My question is this - was too much energy and emphasis spent on winning the Big 12 tournament five days before and did it impact the team's performance in the first round?

GD: I really don't think it was that. Honestly, I think it was that nobody really thought Norfolk State could win the game except Norfolk State. By the time anyone did, it was too late. The feeling in the arena and on press row, through the entire first half, was that the Spartans were hanging in, but eventually Missouri would make a run or eventually NSU would cool off. At the first TV timeout of the second half, I turned to the guy next to me and said, "They're in big trouble." I thought that was the point where the chance to make a run had gone away. I still don't think most in the arena felt that way. I can't speak for anyone on the bench, but most of the arena, I think, felt that the run would still come. Finally, with about ten minutes to go, the crowd started to believe. At that point, Norfolk State had so much confidence that Missouri couldn't knock them down, much less out.

mizzoucobra asks: Give us a brief description of the player/coach, current or in the future that will get Mizzou "over the hump " in men's basketball or football. By over the hump I mean a final four/title or bcs/conference title

GD: Honestly, who knows? Did anyone have Brad Stephens or Shaka Smart pegged as a Final Four coach? Did Florida fans think Billy Donovan would do what he did in winning two straight national titles? It's impossible to tell. All you can do is consistently put your team in position to get it done. Once they're there, it's a matter of winning that one game. Each of Missouri's last three basketball coaches had the Tigers one win away from the Final Four. Gary Pinkel had Mizzou football one half away from the national title game. That means all of those guys were good enough to get the job done, they just came up one game short. Maybe Pinkel and Haith get it done. Maybe they don't. There's no magic recipe. It takes consistency, it takes being there and it takes winning that one game. To this point, Missouri has done the first two, but hasn't achieved the third.

mglassma asks: Of the five guys currently eligible for next season's basketball squad: Dixon, Pressey, Bowers, Ross and Bell, who do you see as our leading candidate for top scorer, top rebounder, best player and leader?

GD: I think Mike Dixon will lead this team in scoring. He was in double figures the last 14 games this year and he can score in a variety of ways. I'd think Laurence Bowers will lead the Tigers in rebounding. Phil Pressey is their best player. All three of them have to combine to lead the team. I think Bowers will be the Kim English type, the guy out front talking and being a vocal leader. Dixon will do it more quietly and Pressey will do it the same way he did this year.


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