Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Braggin' Rights Live Blog

By Tiger Fan and Born-a-Tiger

Well, it’s that time of year again. Time for the Braggin’ Rights game… lately, an annual ritual where Mizzou fans gather together and bemoan the demise of their basketball program. The Tigers haven’t won since 1999. I’ve been there the last two years and that hasn’t helped, so I’ll try watching it at home with Born-a-Tiger and Fannette this year. Last year’s 82-50 loss was the worst in series history, so it can’t get any worse. Right? Game on… let’s end this drought!

8:00: Certainly Duke is Duke… but they’re trying real hard to screw over Mizzou fans by blowing a 10-point lead against Kent State and sending things to overtime

8:05: Looks like Duke will pull this out, despite being incredibly overrated. In fact, Kent State fans have begun an overrated chant (down 5). And apparently Ohio State is struggling against the Cyclones. What the heck? Anyway, it’s over… let’s go to the real game.

8:09: As the team takes the floor, Born-a-Tiger suggests that Mizzou invest in a Mission:Impossible-style mask so that DeMarre Carroll can pretend to be Kalen Grimes. Or, CMA could do start Leo Lyons in his place. That could work.

8:15: Nolan Richardson was just spotted in the stands with a straw hat and a gray moustache. I think he’s trying to blend in…. ‘cause, you know, that’s what everyone else is wearing.

8:19: Stefhon Hannah is starting out hot and the Tigers have weathered the opening storm from the Illini. It’s 8-10 at the first timeout… I’ll take that.

8:27: Illinois fouls Grimes in an attempt to front him. Apparently they think he’s good and… OOOOHHHHH, Grimes with a huge put-back. Perhaps we were wrong about Kalen. Perhaps.

8:30: Illinois seems to be scoring at will right now, but they’re taking some tough shots and they happen to be going down. I’m okay with those shots… and if they really keep making them, we’re not going to win anyway.

8:37: And it seems that everyone on both teams is in foul trouble. Advantage: Mizzou.

8:49: I correctly called a Jason Horton miss at the free throw line, then Born-a-Tiger calls two straight misses by Pruitt, specifically naming where on the rim it will hit. Nice.

8:59: I was all set to say that the “Grimes fade-away count is at one”… but he traveled

9:02: The Tigers lead 38-35 at the half. Any Tiger fan who won’t take that is delusional. No popcorn showers this year. Great half of coaching.

9:06: Thinking back, the Tigers have been down at halftime a lot in this series and they always play better in the second half. I wasn’t a math major in school, but I’m pretty sure if we outscore them in the second half this year, we’ll win. Write that down.

9:10: As halftime continues, Fannette wanders into the room and I tell her we’re down by 20. She looks confused… not because she doesn’t think this is possible, but because we haven’t been screaming nearly enough to be down 20. Ah, college basketball.

9:23: Yikes. A quick 6-0 run by the Illini. Too many second chance points. Good time out by CMA.

9:29: Brian Randle gets his third foul. Born-a-Tiger says he looks hurt. I say he look stupid in his t-shirt. Fannette says he looks Mexican. Classic.

9:30: Fannette points out that I am also wearing a t-shirt under my jersey. Touche.

9:32: Why is Sean Sutton considered a first-year coach? Hasn’t he realistically been the coach at OSU for several years because his dad is a drunk? I’m just asking.

9:44: After Kalen knocks down a jumper, the announcer says, “Grimes, not known for his post moves…” Yeah, that’s what you want to hear about your big man. But hey, he’s playing well tonight.

9:57: This one’s not over yet, but with Mizzou down five, you have to look at second chance points. Illinois has 20 so far… teams won’t get that next year with Carroll in the mix.

10:15: Ahhhhh… free throws, rebounding and a lane violation are going to cost us the game. That’s a shame. It’s been a great game.

10:17: It’s not over yet, but the Tigers trail by three with 11.7 to play. They should have gotten it back on the last in-bound (the Illini player traveled and there was a held ball), but Illinois used its last timeout. It will come down to this possession.

10:18: STEAL! Tigers have 4.8 seconds to tie it. What a game!

10:19: Hannah loses it on his way up and that’s it. He was open but it just slipped out of his hands. His reaction? “F***ing crap.” Interesting choice of words to sum up the end of an interesting game. The final is 73-70 and while the Tigers need to beat these guys soon to keep the rivalry interesting, Mizzou fans should feel pretty good about this. It was a great game and it could have gone either way. Unfortunately, the guys just couldn’t quite pull it out and CMA becomes the first coach in the history of this rivalry to lose in his first year. Oh well… we’ll get them next year. And I mean it this time.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Weekly Report

By Tiger Fan

Allright, law school exams are over, so I finally have to time to weigh in on all the issues in Columbia. So, without further ado...

Ticket scalping
Is anyone really surprised that the Sun Bowl ticket situation has turned into such a fiasco? It just wouldn't be a Mizzou sporting event without the athletic department screwing things up. When I first heard that they were giving away free tickets to students, I thought it was great... it's about time Mike Alden acknowledged the fact that the athletic department is actually tied to a university full of students. But almost as quickly, I realized this would be a disaster. Let's see: "poor" students who are crappy "fans," free tickets, eBay, a game in freakin' El Paso smack dab in the middle of winter break... what could go wrong?

I'm torn about who to blame for this. The athletic department is stupid for not seeing this coming. The fans who are buying the student tickets are stupid for encouraging it. And the students themselves are just jerks... and terrible fans. We actually had this happen with Zou Crew student tix to the Braggin' Rights game a couple years ago and those responsible were kicked out of the organization. The bottom line is that no true Tiger fan would take advantage of the AD's generosity and try to turn a profit for themselves. It is amusing to me to hear the students justify selling their tickets: "Well, they shouldn't have given them to us" (classy)... "Everyone knows Mizzou football is just about tailgating anyway" (I'm sure the players would appreciate hearing that. Plus, I've got bad news for the Mizzou tailgaters out there: Our scene is fine, but it's no better than most other Big XII schools and pales in comparison to anything in the SEC)... "I'm a poor college student" (give me a break)... "Who wants to ride to El Paso in a bus and sleep four to a room?" (Um, I think that's called a road trip. Those kind of memories are what college is all about. Besides, I thought you were poor?)... and my personal favorite, "Do you know how much an All Sports Pass costs? I'm just trying to recoup some of my investment. All student tickets should be free." (Are you freakin' kidding me? All Sports pass costs $207. That's less than season football tickets cost and then you get all the other sports for free. If anyone needs to recoup their investment it's someone who actually paid the AD face value for their tickets. The AD loses money on All Sports Passes. And sure, there are some schools where they let kids in free... but there are also schools like Ohio State where freshman get the distinct privilege of buying tickets to ONE game. I think Mizzou is at a happy medium).

Lost in all this is the bigger problem: The AD has only sold a couple thousand tickets, well short of the mark required by the Sun Bowl. If we don't get there, it will COST the AD around $200,000. Nice work, Tiger fans. Here's the bottom line: We should never complain about getting passed over by a better bowl. Mizzou fans have proven we don't deserve it.

Fan support
Speaking of Mizzou fans, what the heck is going on in Columbia? I understand that there was some snow and all, but let's show some support for the basketball team. They're 9-1 and off to their best start since 2001 (when they went to the Elite Eight), but no one seems to care. It's pathetic. Only a few years ago, Hearnes was overflowing with people because the AD thought all the students would skip the Iowa game at the start of Christmas break and resold the tickets... but then all the students showed up. Now? Either our student "fans" are pathetic or they have seriously raised the academic standards at Mizzou. Come on folks, get to a game. It takes two hours and if that makes a difference in your studying, you're probably screwed anyway. CMA is not Quin Snyder and he has these guys playing with heart. They deserve your support.

I guess part of the problem may be the geniuses in the athletic department, who seem to be doing everything possible to discourage student attendance. According to this story in the Tribune, Alden apparently called in the police at 3:00 a.m. to prevent students from lining up early for Braggin' Rights tickets. Yes, this is the same guy who won't let students camp outside the arena before big games (that's why the annual Zou Crew camp-out for kU seats was always at Tiger Plaza). Name for me another big-time program that would turn away students who were camping out for seats. I'll wait.... Back? There aren't any. Some Mizzou fans want to believe we have a big-time program, but we won't until our crappy leadership stops doing stuff like this. It's a Catch 22: The AD complains that we don't have any fan support... then the fans show up and he calls the police. Brilliant. How does this man still have a job?

The other team that deserves your support is the Mizzou wrestling team, currently ranked No. 1 in the country. Take a minute to let that sink in. No. 1 in the nation. Could you imagine what game day would be like if football was No. 1? Basketball? Ben Askren already brought Mizzou one national title and is working on another. Now, his brother Max is looking to do the same. These guys are the real deal.

Elson Floyd
I'd be remisced if I didn't mention the departure of University of Missouri President Elson Floyd. He's not directly related to the athletic department, but after the Ricky Clemons debacle, he will be forever tied to Quin, Alden, etc. I'm torn about what to think. On one hand, I'm all for getting rid of the entire regime that killed the basketball program and embarassed Mizzou on a national scale. Quin's gone... Floyd is gone... Alden is the only one left. The thing is, Floyd didn't really do anything wrong. Sure, his wife was completely out of line and embarassing, but can he be blamed for his wife's conduct? It always seemed to me like he got caught in a bad situation where he reached out to a student in trouble, and Clemons made him look like a fool. On the other hand, if you look at the big picture, he was good for the academic side of the university (which is why it exists in the first place, isn't it?). Most faculty members supported him, and he did a good job of keeping the state from slashing Mizzou's budget more than necessary. I think the Tiger fans who are cheering his departure are taking a somewhat myopic view of the situation. Overseeing athletics at Mizzou was a very, very small part of his job. Floyd was supervising the operation of four campuses throughout the state. He must have been doing a good job, otherwise Washington State wouldn't have offered him so much money to leave. He always seemed like a nice guy to me (can't say the same for his wife), so I wish him all the best. I just hope the UM system can find a suitable replacement to run the SCHOOL. If you have a problem with ATHLETICS, fire Alden. Maybe the new guy will do it...

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Thoughts on Mizzou-Purdue

By Tiger Fan

Before everyone starts jumping off a bridge because of the 79-62 loss to Purdue, let’s remember a few things: 1) a couple months ago, we all would have been thrilled with a 9-1 record right now… 2) this was our first road game and it showed… 3) Purdue is a pretty good team… 4) this game was a lot closer than it looks from the score. It was tied at the half, but we just couldn’t buy a basket in the second half. It doesn’t matter how well you play defense if you can’t score (they scored 39 in the first, 40 in the second… we scored 39 in the first, 23 in the second). Now, here are some specific thoughts:

-First off, let’s talk about ESPN 360. I can’t emphasize this enough... it SUCKS. Explain to me why I should like watching a game in a little 5x5 box in my computer instead of getting it on MSN or FOX. I feel bad for Big Eleven fans who apparently have to watch games like this all the time. For about half the game, it re-buffered every two or three or three seconds so you had no idea what was going on. Strangely, they didn’t have any problems with the ESPN ads. And I’m not sure where they got those announcers, but they were terrible. I’m almost hoping that they just hired the normal TV crew that does Purdue games because otherwise, they showed an incredible lack of professionalism in professing their love for Purdue throughout the game. Also, they apparently didn’t do any research on Mizzou before we got there. Through the whole first half, they kept talking about how “Mizzou is going to stick with the press here” and “There’s no way they can do this for 40 minutes.” Um… yeah… that’s exactly what we do. I guess we’ll have to deal with that until people get used to Mike Anderson. One interesting note: according to this crack announcing squad, comedian Martin Lawrence has turned into a white small forward who plays for the Tigers…

-Missouri probably thought it was a good idea to have Big XII refs in a Big Eleven venue. What the AD failed to remember is that Big XII refs suck. If Tom O’Neil and Steve Weimer call all the Mizzou games as tight as they did in the first half, we may be the first team ever to forfeit a game because the whole team fouls out.

-As expected, our interior defense and rebounding is TERRIBLE against a team with some real size. They gave up way too many second chance baskets on the offensive end and they made some kid named Landry look like Shaq. We also took at a lot of bad shots… and missed a lot of free throws… and we have to find a way to get Matt Lawrence open… and we will lose at least one or two games this year because Grimes sucks. He refuses to attack the basket, opting for the fade-away every time. That’s not what you want from your big man. The good news is that most of these things can be fixed.

-Apparently Purdue fans are really lame or they haven’t watched much basketball. Based on all the booing, they apparently expected a foul every time anyone was touched. I also thought it was funny to hear them get frustrated when their players continually dribbled into double teams. You would hear the whole crowd yelling, “Go! Come on!”

-A few plays that stood out: Mizzou’s first basket was a great dish from Horton to Grimes for a monster jam, Hannah scored six points in about 20 seconds to give us the lead in the first half thanks to the press, Tiller hit a 30-footer with a guy in his face as the shot clock expired, K-Law made a great block on a Purdue fast break and then saved the ball from going out of bounds. The only problem? All these plays happened in the first half.