With a big road game looming, it's time to talk to the opposition. This time we are talking to Sam Snelling over at Rock M Nation about the Missouri Tigers, our latest SEC foe.
1.) Y'all have been hovering around .500 this season early on. Who's been the biggest help and who has been the biggest disappointment?
The biggest help has probably been the play of freshman Montaque Gill-Caesar. Either him or Johnathan Williams III. JW3 is the best player on the team, and he's slowly coming on after a knee injury in the fall. With JW3, Mizzou needs him to get about 15 points or more, and 8 rebounds or more to be competitive with the better teams in Division 1. MGC is also the only other real consistent scoring threat, but it's difficult to count on a freshman in that role. Williams is at least a Sophomore, and played a lot of minutes a year ago.
The biggest disappointment has probably been the play of our centers. Ryan Rosburg more than anyone else. He was solid last year, and this year has been almost detrimental when he's been on the floor. He hasn't been able to finish around the rim, he's been horrible from the free throw line. It hasn't been pretty. And then to top that off, Keanau Post, the other center on the roster, has been just as bad. They both held their own against the Arizona front line, but have been summarily outplayed by each and every other power conference team that Mizzou has faced. If they continue to be this bad, it's going to be a long season for Missouri.
2.) What is the ceiling on Canadian sensation Montaque Gill-Caesar?
Ha. I don't know that I'd call him a sensation just yet. He's got that kind of ability, but he's still a young player and shows it at times by forcing shots and turning the ball over. That said, there aren't a lot of other guys to take shots, so he kind of has to force things, but I hope this is a good learning experience for him. The ceiling is All Conference and first round draft pick. I think he needs at least 3 years of seasoning before he's ready for that though, but he's such a solid player, he does so many things well. And when he adds strength and can consistently finish around the rim (at the college level) watch out, because he'll be tough to stop.
3.) Xavier currently excels at shooting the ball a lot but struggles greatly at stopping other teams. Does Mizzou have equally glaring problems on defense?
I hate to keep chuckling when I read the questions... but, haha. Mizzou has a lot of issues. IF... (and that's a big if)... Missouri has a strength it's going to be defense. Kim Anderson comes from the Norm Stewart coaching tree, which prided itself on tough hard nosed defense. The roster is mostly made up of guys recruited by Frank Haith, who prided himself on... well, I'm not sure exactly what. But defense wasn't it. It's been a process, and when the team plays with high effort on defense they look pretty good on both ends. If there's a problem it's that they're not very good on offense and, with a young team, they're prone to letting that effect their Defense as well. If anything, this should be an interesting matchup because of that.
4.) How is the fan base feeling so far about new head coach Ken Anderson?
Initially it was met with a very mixed reaction. I think many in and around the program got their hopes up for a bigger splash. And then after the hire reports came out about how close they had gotten with Gregg Marshall, so disappointed is probably a good word to describe the hire. Since then though, I think many have come around to see that this could be a good hire for Mizzou. He's done a lot right, he retained Tim Fuller as an assistant. Brought in Rob Fulford from Huntington Prep, because if there was a big concern about the hire it was going to be his ability to recruit the kind of players Missouri was going to need to compete. So I think right now if you asked, most fans would give the hire a B grade. There is obviously some unrest with the slow start, but anyone paying close attention knew that was going to happen regardless of who was hired.
5.) I haven't been to Columbia since I was in high school, and that was a long time ago. Where do I need to eat or drink at if I was traveling for the game?
Well, as a native St. Louisan, and a non-graduate of Mizzou, I'm probably the wrong guy to ask. But we'll link this to RockMNation and you can get all the Columbia natives to chime in. But I'll throw my limited knowledge into the ring... Obviously everybody knows about Shakespeares Pizza. If you haven't been there, it's a must. If only for the atmosphere, it's a lot of fun. I'm a fan of Flat Branch Brewing, which is a place that brews all of their own beer, and has pretty good food to top it off. After that I'd say Booches is fun for cheap burgers.
6.) What is your prediction for how this game will go?
Ugh. With this team, I just hope they stay competitive. I know Xavier isn't the greatest defensive team right now, so maybe Mizzou can be good enough on offense, and good enough on defense to make it a game. Ultimately I think Xavier wins, probably in the area of a 68-63 kind of game. If Mizzou gets anything from their Centers, they can be more competitive and possibly win. Honestly though, at this point most Mizzou fans are just kind of wait and see on whatever this team has in store.