Before this season, I told myself I wouldn't let it happen. I wouldn't let Missouri basketball tease me with its potential, with its talent. I wouldn't let myself think of the team playing to its ability, achieving what it could and should have achieved. Because if there is one constant in the Quin Snyder era, it is the inconsistent product on the court. An inconsistent team is the most certain sign of a poorly coached team. Quin's legacy will be underachieving and playing to the level of his opponents. But, like the $5 hooker tempting me from down the street, Quin did it again. He sucked me in, made me believe. As always, that was a mistake.
If Quin was as good at getting his team up as he is at getting himself up (if you know what I mean. Ask Linas Kleiza, or even better, Kleiza's ex-girlfriend, or any member of the Golden Girls), MU would be a national power. His team has to get itself up, and that only happens for big games. Let's take a look at Quin's teams, shall we?
Year One: 1999-2000
This probably is the only Quin Snyder team that DIDN'T underachieve. Great shooting, great guards, no size. If there had been a decent power forward, this team could have made some noise. As it was, getting to the NCAA Tourney was a nice accomplishment. But the credit does not go to Quin Snyder... because this team had the one thing he has been unable to find in all his time as the Tigers' coach—a point guard. Two of them, actually—Keyon Dooling and Brian Grawer. Ah, it was nice.
Year Two: 2000-2001
A promising freshman class that included two good big men (well... maybe one and a half) joined budding star Kareem Rush, star shooter Clarence Gilbert and old reliable, Brian Grawer. Another team that probably got to the level it should have—a second-round drubbing by Duke in the NCAA tournament—but it was wildly inconsistent through the season... hmm... a sign of things to come? Still, MU looked like a team on the rise...
Year Three: 2001-2002
How sad is it that Quin's best year as MU's head coach was a season that saw Mizzou climb to No. 2 in the polls, fall out of them, earn a No. 12 seed in the tournament, then race to the Elite 8 (where, but for a terrible shooting day by Clarence Gilbert and a few very questionable calls that went OU's way, Mizzou might have earned its first Final Four appearance)? It tells the story of his coaching career... MU had top 5 talent... except at point guard. That lack of talent prevented the team from reaching its potential. Quin is rewarded for his inconsistent, uneven season with a fat contract extension.
Year Four: 2002-2003
Enter the Clemons. Kareem's out, lil' Ricky is in. Crazy threes, crazy girlfriends. Hitting big shots... hitting his girlfriend. Missouri again is wildly inconsistent—A.J. becomes a star, but the guards can't get him the ball. The season ends in typical fashion—great performances by Ricky Paulding—who outplayed Dwyane Wade, yes that Dwyane Wade—and A.J. are wasted by disappearing acts from Travon Bryant and Clemons. The worst moment: watching Kevin Young forget that Marquette's Steve Novak is a really, really, really, good shooter. Watching Young continually let Novak get wide-open looks from 3 in the OT... all of which Novak drains, sending MU's season into the toilet.
Year Five: 2003-2004
Kick the Clemons out. With lil' Ricky the distraction out and new pass-first point guard Randy Pulley, high-scoring transfer Jason Conley and freshman studs Linas Kleiza and Thomas Gardner in, Missouri again was a preseason Top 10. What's not to like: a high-scoring, experienced inside-outside combo in Arthur Johnson and Ricky Paulding. Two talented, versatile four men. A strong defender and ball distributor at point guard. Instant offense off the bench in the former NCAA scoring leader. I'll tell you what's not to like: One freshman stud (Kleiza) who can't get along with his teammates and is a BIT of a ball hog. A point guard who may be able to dribble but is such a bad shooter, he makes Doug Gottlieb look good. And the usual wildly inconsistent, poorly coached effort. Nice work, Quin. Way to miss the NCAA tournament for the first time despite having your most talented roster to date.
Year Six: 2004-2005
The wheels fall off. I won't spend much time here. You know the theme by now: flashes of brilliance shattered by shards of mediocrity. Playing to the level of the opponent. Inconsistency. Schtlupping your best player's girlfriend and getting caught. Losing to freakin' DePaul in the freakin' NIT.
Year Seven: 2005-2006
The nail in the coffin. Damn you Quin, damn you. This season hurts more than any other. Why? Because for the first time since Year Two, I started to believe that MAYBE you had actually developed coaching ability. The way you righted the team after the debacle in St. Louis had me thinking that you had it figured out. Your team was listening to you. The players were playing hard and with heart. The comeback against kU showed tenacity and fight and never-say-die, things not always seen from your squads. But like the second verse in a bad song or trilogy, it all came crashing down. Inconsistency reared its ugly head in the form of THREE straight ugly, ugly, ugly Big 12 losses.
So f*** you, Quin. Take your sleazy, sweet-talking, players-girlfriend-humping, underachieving, can't-coach act somewhere else. Take that piece of teflon-coated sh*t Mike Alden with you, too. Please. Go back to Washington. Go back to Duke. Hell, go spend the rest of your life practicing law. That's what you seem best suited for... God knows you aren't suited to be a basketball coach. Many list their accomplishments when they go—I'm going to do a quick list of your failures
Jimmy McKinney—He's the best example of your inability to develop a player's natural ability. He had all the tools to be an all Big 12, high-scoring guard. But you couldn't get him over the hump; he has showed very little improvement under your tutelage. Other players I could have mentioned: Travon Bryant, Ricky Paulding, Linas Kleiza, Jeffrey Ferguson, Najeeb Echols and many more.
Running a program on the cusp of joining the elite back into mediocrity
Taking not one, but two, preseason Top 10 teams and managing one measly Elite Eight run from them. Blowing the overload of talent because you can't get your teams to play hard, disciplined basketball on a consistent basis.
Off-court. You've ruined our reputation. And for all the acclaim you receive as a recruiter, you sure don't get very talented players in here...