Monday, February 19, 2007

I officially have no predictive abilities...

...when it comes to college basketball. Or any college sports, for that matter. There, I said it. I thought I was smart and sort of knew what I was talking about, but when it comes to predicting what will happen at any given time, I've got nothing...especially when Mizzou is involved. I'm close to just going George Costanza and picking against my instincts every time (in which case, I'm predicting OU to beat us at home tomorrow night).

Then again, maybe it's not just me. So far in Big XII play, Mike Anderson has done three things Quin Snyder never did: win at Iowa State, win at Oklahoma State...and lose at home to Nebraska. It's been an interesting year. And overall, it's been a good year, really. I mean, it's been all sorts of up and down...

-- Start 9-0, destroying Arkansas in the process
-- Start Big XII play 0-4
-- Bounce back, whipping a decent Texas Tech team
-- Lose to Nebraska at home
-- Beat Iowa State on the road
-- After almost beating Kansas in Lawrence, get absolutely destroyed by them at home
-- Beat Oklahoma State on the road

I'm pretty sure almost every Mizzou fan would have taken 16-9 and 5-7 in conference with two weeks to go. I hoped for more, but I'm a naive optimist. Looking at best- and worse-case scenarios at the beginning of the season, I'd have taken this.

-- Stefhon Hannah, though a bit scattered at times, is already Mizzou's best point guard since Melvin Booker (seriously, look it up--Kendrick Moore, Dibi Ray, Brian Grawer, Wesley Stokes, Ricky Clemons, Jimmy McKinney, Jason Horton...his stats are better than all of them).
-- Matt Lawrence has already produced more this season than most thought he would his entire career.
-- Keon Lawrence is (statistically) Mizzou's best freshman since Kareem Rush.
-- Marshall Brown has turned into a crunch-time scorer (and being a scorer, period, is more than he was in non-conference play).
-- Kalen Grimes and Leo Lyons combined have turned into, well, at least a competent post player.
-- Rebounding has improved.
-- Defense, while not 40 Minutes of Hell, has really frustrated opponents with shaky point guards (see: Oklahoma State).

Actually, I was going to start ranting about officiating here, and the fact that Mizzou is 0-5 in games decided by 5 points or less (making Mizzou fans' favorite game, the What If Game, more than applicable here), but I'll just stop now, seeing that this has been a relatively positive post. OU is up tomorrow night, and logic would say we'll probably win. That means we'll probably lose, but either way we're assured of a winning record (and likely bid in the NIT) at this point, and that's already quite a step forward. And I really really like what I've seen from Mike Anderson at this point.

What I hope you'll see from this blog (and a lot of this depends on who else I can get to sign on here) is far-too-in-depth analysis of Mizzou sports (all Mizzou sports, including lots about wrestling, baseball, and volleyball), combined with a pretty strong look at the Big XII and a general look at college sports as a whole. One other thing I hope to explore here: using whatever nerdy methods I feel like using, I want to take the What If game to an interesting place. What if Ricky Clemons didn't pick Mizzou? What if Kelly Thames didn't get hurt? Things like that...and not in a "If this didn't happen, we'd have won 10 national titles" kind of honest look at what might have happened. If Wesley Stokes had been Quin's point guard for two more years instead of Clemons, would we be stuck in perpetual 6th place (though with no probation) and stuck with Quin a lot longer? Could Kelly Thames have made that big a difference in '95?

Even though sitting with a laptop on my lap this much will probably make me sterile, let's get started...