Not since the 02-03 season have I enjoyed watching MU basketball so much. There has been something missing from MU hoops since the chicken noodle soup diet stories of AJ ceased and the wild threes from Ricky Paulding stopped raining down.
Countless nights on the couch screaming at the TV. Countless remotes shattered on the floor. Countless anger management courses atteneded and abandoned because of the lack of fundamentals from Mizzou teams of old. Three girlfriends lost and a multitude of hair ripped out, and all over a game. That has, at least for now, ended.
Boxing out, outlet passes, free throws and layups might as well have been Greek literature on the chalkboard in the Mizzou locker room. X's and O's were replaced with one word....Streetball. For that is what Missouri basketball had become. Ricky Clemons, Jimmy McKinney, Jason Horton, and Thomas Gardner ran the show with little discipline and a lack of patience.
This year's Tigers squad brings something back. Back to the "norm" that was Mizzou basketball. Once again I am wrapped up in March Madness with a reason to cheer. My bracket....busted. Mid major upsets....non-existent. Your Missouri Tigers....playing for a shot at the Elite 8.
These Tigers aren't doing it with big names. They aren't doing it with a feared coach like Roy, Norm, Calhoun, Olson or Coach K. They are doing it with tenacity and fundamentals.
If this magical ride ends Thursday, so be it. But the trip was a good one. One to remember and hopefully will bring MU basketball back to the forefront.
I watch this team with pride. I can honestly say that the heart and desire this club shows night in and night out is contagious. The relentless defense wreaks havoc on the most disciplined opponents. The patience showed on the offensive side of the ball surprises most journalist and broadcasters in the college game today.
The most impressive part of this teams game is the two foot shot. I couldn't even begin to count the number of layup's missed by previous Mizzou teams. Remember the batting glove covered wall of Willie Mays Hayes. Well my Mizzou jock strap covered wall from missed layups puts Willie's to shame. And yes, that may be part of the reason for the three girlfriends lost. I see Demarre Carroll dart through the lane and fully expect a wild uncontrolled shot that shatters the backboard. What I get however is a floater with touch that kisses the glass.
One last thing that catches my eye about this years team is "clutch" play. Not only did CBS give me a heart attack with the Tyus Edney flashback, but I had another bad memory (several) come to mind in the final minute against Marquette. Trevon Bryant, Arthur Johnson, and Kalen Grimes all missing free throws badly off the back iron hit me like a Haley twin jump shot. Again....not this team. Kim English comes in cold off the bench and drills two free throws. Leo Lyons mans up and puts any bad memory of years past to rest.
Stepanovich, Sunvold, Peeler, Doug Smith, Sutherland....and the 2008-2009 tigers (if you can name more than three) all going down in my own personal Mizzou hall of fame.