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KcMizzou
03-28-2009, 11:36 PM
Ugh. :(

Missouriís Final Four dream died early

GLENDALE, Ariz. | There comes a moment in every good dream, a hard moment, when you realize that it is only a dream. The moment came for Missouri exactly 26 seconds into its tournament game against Connecticut on Saturday. Thatís when Missouriís Zaire Taylor drove hard to the basket, attempted a layup, and had it blocked hard by Connecticutís Stanley Robinson.

Understand, thatís not when Missouri lost the game. No, this would be a full afternoon of punches and counterpunches, sprints and comebacks, big shots and fierce defense. The game story will tell you: Missouri overcame an early deficit and took this game into the final minutes ó the Tigers even led the game for 27 happy seconds in the second half ó and it is only because Connecticutís tough players made tough shots and all their free throws in those final minutes that the Huskies won the game 82-75. Yes, the top-seeded Huskies had to will their way to the Final Four. Missouri pushed them hard.

Still, it seems now as red-eyed Missouri players stare into space, not quite able to believe itís over, that it was that first blocked shot that snapped the Tigers out of their happy dream. This season had been beautiful. They were picked to finish seventh in the Big 12. They were supposed to crumble after a surprisingly good start. They were expected to get beaten up by the class teams of the conference like Kansas and Oklahoma. They were called lucky when they beat the three teams placed in front of them in the Big 12 tournament. They were supposed to get exposed when they played a dominant Memphis team.

They won a school-record 31 games, and faced Connecticut for a shot at the Final Four.

ďWe came from nothing,Ē Missouri senior Matt Lawrence would say, and those four words would make a good title for the book. The Tigers came from nothing and kept on winning, and you can give all the basketball reasons ó they had versatile big men, they had tough guards, they had a deep bench, they deeply believed in coach Mike Andersonís 40-minutes-of-hell system ó but there was something else, something that Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun tried to describe about his own team after Saturdayís game.

ďWe seem to find a way to win basketball games,Ē Calhoun said. ďThat seems to be the one ingredient thatís very difficult to describe. It is the grit of this team, and it is the will to find a way. Some teams have it. You canít describe it. You canít talk about it. But it is there or, quite frankly, it is not there.Ē

Missouri had it too. That, in the end, was what made them so much fun to watch. They never won the same way twice. They rarely had the same hero in back-to-back games. Sometimes it was DeMarre Carroll making his acrobatic shots around the basket, and sometimes it was Leo Lyons making smooth moves between defenders, and sometimes it was Zaire Taylor manning up and slapping away passes, and sometimes it was J.T. Tiller driving without fear into the eye of the defense, and sometimes it was Matt Lawrence launching killer three-pointers at the very moment when the game was in the balance.

A dream season. And, sure, it felt like it could go on. What was so striking about Missouriís upset victory over Memphis on Thursday is that the Missouri players never seemed to think of it as an upset. There seemed no doubt in their minds, from the opening tip, that they were the best team on the floor. They played free, and the Memphis players never knew what hit them.

But thatís the thing about dreams. Just when they get good, the alarm goes off, the baby cries, the sunlight slips through a crack in the curtains. Happens in sports all the time. Take golf: Gil Morgan was once 12 under par at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. It was preposterous. He had never played so well. He led the tournament by 7 shots. And then he faced a tough chip out of the rough into a downhill lie, an impossible shot, and he would remember thinking: ďSo, this is where the U.S. Open really begins.Ē He would shoot 8 over par the rest of the day, and 9 over par the next day. He had been shaken out of his dream.

Thatís what the first few minutes Saturday were like for the Missouri Tigers. When Stanley Robinson blocked Zaire Taylorís shot, it was almost like you could see the Missouri players recoil. You can never know whatís going on in a playerís mind ó the players may not know themselves ó but for the next three minutes the Tigers played as though, for the first time, they fully understood where they were, what they had done, how big and strong this Connecticut team was, how badly the odds were stacked against them.

With the score 4-2, Taylor drove hard to the basket, and again his shot was blocked by Stanley Robinson. Connecticut scored. Matt Lawrence missed an open three-pointer. Connecticut scored.

Then came a telling moment. Carroll drove into the lane and had a shot from 4 feet out ó the kind of soft shot that made him one of the best players in the country this year. But Connecticutís 7-foot-3 Hasheem Thabeet was there, as was Robinson, and, really, thereís no other way to say it: Carroll panicked. His 4-foot shot went barely 2 feet, a sickly airball, and after a scramble on the other end, Connecticutís Jeff Adrian got the ball and dunked it hard.

Then came another telling moment. Leo Lyons launched a three-point shot. Thatís not his game ó he had tried only 13 three-point shots the whole season, and none with his team fading like this. It was a desperation shot when the Tigers needed to keep it together. The shot missed and Connecticut grabbed the rebound, raced down the court and fed Craig Austrie, who made a three-point shot of his own.

Connecticut had a 13-2 lead. Three minutes had gone by. Mike Anderson called timeout to settle down his team.

And, like I say, he did settle down the Tigers. Missouri played absurdly hard the rest of the game. Several players came off the bench and played good ball. Junior Keith Ramsey scored eight points, dished out three assists, added two steals and blocked a shot. Sophomore Justin Safford scored nine. Freshman guard Marcus Denmon provided some calm. Those young guys played so well that Missouri came back, and they were on the floor in the critical final minutes instead of the Missouri seniors who had struggled.

ďThose guys that were out there playing,Ē Anderson would say afterward, ďI thought they had it going on. They were playing well, and they were going to give us an opportunity to win. Some days, you know, guys donít have it.Ē

But even though Missouri did come back, I donít think the Tigers ever quite recovered from those painful and scared first three minutes.

They were always chasing Connecticut on Saturday, always stalking Connecticut, and it takes so much energy to come back like that. It never seemed like the game was on equal footing. Connecticut teetered, definitely, and the Huskies needed a gutsy and lucky bank shot from Kamba Walker and 11 straight free throws to finish things off. But all along the Huskies seemed just a little bit ahead.

The loss, of course, does not diminish Missouriís remarkable season. Most wins in school history. Led the nation in assists. A home victory over Kansas and Oklahoma. A Big 12 tournament championship. An appearance in the Elite Eight. The Tigers did come from nothing, and they brought Missouri basketball back from the abyss. Nobody likes for beautiful dreams to end, but they do. And all thatís left then is to remember the dream and feel good.

Sure-Oz
03-28-2009, 11:37 PM
Beats the days of Kalen Grimes, Stephon Hannah and Keyon Lawrence

Dumbfucks

KCrockaholic
03-28-2009, 11:37 PM
Ill live. I dont even like basketball, or know anything about it....Go Blaine Gabbert!

Fairplay
03-28-2009, 11:41 PM
"The loss, of course, does not diminish Missouriís remarkable season. Most wins in school history. Led the nation in assists. A home victory over Kansas and Oklahoma. A Big 12 tournament championship. An appearance in the Elite Eight. The Tigers did come from nothing, and they brought Missouri basketball back from the abyss."




That is how i view Missouri's season. On a positive note.

KCrockaholic
03-29-2009, 12:10 AM
So how does next season look for mizzou? do they have a lot of seniors? Or are they still young and able to make this run again next year?

KcMizzou
03-29-2009, 12:23 AM
So how does next season look for mizzou? do they have a lot of seniors? Or are they still young and able to make this run again next year?They'll lose DeMarre, Lyons and Lawrence.

Losing DeMarre Carrol hurts. Lyons does too... but he only seemed to play well about half the time. I expect Safford, Ramsey and Bowers will pick up the slack.

We lose Matt Lawrence too, but we've got Kimmie English, who's arguably an upgrade... as far as shooter's go.

Mizzou might take a step back, but I don't think it'll be a big one. Besides, this team greatly surpassed any expectations I had.

Silock
03-29-2009, 12:44 AM
MU should be fine next year. I wouldn't expect them to do what they did this year, though.

Pants
03-29-2009, 02:58 AM
"We seem to find a way to win basketball games,” Calhoun said. “That seems to be the one ingredient that’s very difficult to describe. It is the grit of this team, and it is the will to find a way. Some teams have it. You can’t describe it. You can’t talk about it. But it is there or, quite frankly, it is not there.”Yeah, MU def had it more than KU this year. Our boys lacked it the whole season (except when we played in the Phog). My theory is that it comes with experience and age, not always however, there needs to be that mystical element in there as well. Either way you look at it, both teams overachieved and the futures are bright.

CoMoChief
03-29-2009, 07:51 AM
Yeah, MU def had it more than KU this year. Our boys lacked it the whole season (except when we played in the Phog). My theory is that it comes with experience and age, not always however, there needs to be that mystical element in there as well. Either way you look at it, both teams overachieved and the futures are bright.

Only difference is that if Collins and Aldrich come back, along with Lance Stephenson, Elijah Johnson, and Thomas Robinson, Jeff Withey, and an improved Tyshawn Taylor, Morningstar, Reed, and Morris twins, KU instantly becomes a NC favorite and a top 3 team, with the depth we havent seen in a couple seasons, coming into next season.

MU comes in hoping to finish in top 5 in Big 12.

dtebbe
03-29-2009, 08:21 AM
They'll lose DeMarre, Lyons and Lawrence.

Losing DeMarre Carrol hurts. Lyons does too... but he only seemed to play well about half the time. I expect Safford, Ramsey and Bowers will pick up the slack.

We lose Matt Lawrence too, but we've got Kimmie English, who's arguably an upgrade... as far as shooter's go.

Mizzou might take a step back, but I don't think it'll be a big one. Besides, this team greatly surpassed any expectations I had.

The key is getting the coach re-signed long term. With the year they had they should be able to get in and compete again recruiting.

DT

gblowfish
03-29-2009, 08:26 AM
I'm very proud of Mizzou's season. Picked to finish 7th in the Big 12, undefeated at home, won the tourney and made it to the Elite 8. That's pretty damn impressive. Great job by Mike Anderson, great hustle all year by Carroll, Tiller played hurt the last month of the season with a bad wrist.

I'm very proud of these guys. One of the best Mizzou teams ever.

They need to find a center who's a cross between Carroll and Arthur Johnson. Back court is fine, bench is fine.

If KU loses Aldrich to the NBA, could be another toss us season between MU and KU next year.

Demonpenz
03-29-2009, 10:12 AM
Mizzou might have a better team in the coming years, but that is the closest they are going to get to a final 4 for awhile

KChiefs1
03-29-2009, 12:33 PM
from the other side of the state:
http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/sports/columnists.nsf/bryanburwell/story/CC40314E907DA8FA8625758800120EDC?OpenDocument

Missouri Tigers restore dignity to program by reaching Elite Eight


By Bryan Burwell (bburwell@post-dispatch.com)
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH


03/29/2009

GLENDALE, ARIZ. ó The dream season was over now, and like all sudden deaths, the pain was on the verge of intolerable. The wrong team was still out there on the floor celebrating. The Connecticut Huskies, not the Missouri Tigers, were still out there on the basketball court, cutting down the nets, laughing and hugging and high fiving themselves silly, as they strutted around in those crisp T-shirts and caps that proclaimed them NCAA West Regional champs.

Twenty yards away, in a dark tunnel in the far corner of the University of Phoenix Stadium, Zaire Taylor wouldn't glance over his shoulder to look back. The greatest season in the history of Mizzou basketball was over, and the end wasn't exactly what Taylor had imagined.

UConn 82, Mizzou 75.

Wrong team going to the Final Four.

Wrong team continuing to live out a wonderful hoop dream.

So of course, Taylor didn't look. Actually, he couldn't bear to look.

"I knew what they were doing," said Mizzou's normally smiling guard. "We did the same thing a few weeks ago at the Big 12 championship. I've seen it every year on TV."

Instead, Taylor did what most of his teammates did. He cried. He was the last player to leave the court, and from the brightness of the domed stadium's lights, you could see his silhouetted body quake as he walked under the stands. He never heard the polite applause from so many consoling Tiger fans. And once inside the tunnel, Taylor lost it. He buried his face in his hands, then fell against the cold cinder block wall and broke down in tears.

A few feet away, senior Matt Lawrence's blushed face and red eyes melted into the shoulders of freshman Laurence Bowers. Meanwhile, Kim English and all the other underclassmen who know their journey has just begun, took the time to wrap their arms around all the seniors whose basketball lives in Mizzou black and gold had just come to an abrupt and painful end.

"I know what Matt, DeMarre (Carroll), Leo (Lyons) and Mike (Anderson, Jr.) went through to get us here," English said as he sat in a quiet corner of the Missouri locker room. "After the game, Coach (Anderson) told them there was nothing to have their heads down about. This was the best team in Missouri history, and they were the heart and soul of this team. We won 31 games, we won the Big 12 title, and we made it one step away from the Final Four. That's pretty big in some people's eyes."

And so that is how the story of this miracle turnaround of Missouri basketball should be remembered long after the agony of defeat has subsided. A school record 31 victories, a conference tournament title, a entertaining run to the edge of the Final Four's door. A total resurrection and reclamation of Missouri basketball with an entertaining style of The Fastest 40 Minutes in Basketball, and more meaningful substance from a group of young men who were able to wipe away all the shame of the program's darkest days.

On Saturday afternoon inside this stainless steel football palace, the Tigers came across a bigger and better basketball team. They fought and clawed and scrapped and scraped like they have done throughout this entire season, but in the end it wasn't enough to overcome a Connecticut team that likely will go on to win the national title.

But defeat doesn't diminish the bigger picture of what Mike Anderson and his impressive young men accomplished on the road to the Elite Eight. The tears don't blur the rear view of where this team was three years ago ó a wrecked program buried under a pile of NCAA infractions and other embarrassing nonsense that was better suited for reality TV ó to where they are now.

So that's why Lyons, who has seen it all, both the good and the bad, was walking around the locker room quietly going from one locker stall to the next, giving each and every one of his teammates gentle fist pounds and back pats. "I know they're all thinking about the loss right now," Lyons said, "but that's only because I don't think they realize what we've all done."

Lyons said he had tears in his eyes, too. His eyes were still ruby red, but he also had a smile on his face. "I feel some joy kicking in," he said. "Just think about it, after four years, I'm about to graduate, the first person in my family with a college degree. These other guys are about to graduate, too. Look what we've done. We had a great season and made it all the way to the Elite Eight."

Lyons' eyes seemed to drift off for a moment as he spoke, almost like every up-and-down episode over the past three years was suddenly passing before his eyes. "We came from nothing, and now we're something," he said. "You couldn't write a better story."

And now all around the room, the tears were beginning to fade, the sadness was starting to lift, and the realization of the season's amazing accomplishments were setting in.

The seniors like Carroll and Anderson, Jr. and Lawrence all leaned back in their chairs and quietly closed their eyes. But in other quiet pockets of the room, the young fellows like English and Taylor had their eyes wide open, already drifting off to the future.

"Basketball teams are made in the summer," English said, "so I won't be working on a tan. I'll be in the gym all summer long, and we'll get back here next year. I'm looking for bigger and better things next year. We'll be right back here next year trying to get JT (Tiller) and Zaire (next year's seniors) to the Final Four."

On the other side of the room, his sad eyes finally came to life when someone asked Taylor if Mizzou would be back here in the championship hunt next year.

"Oh yeah," said Taylor. "We don't have a choice. It's not optional. This is just the beginning."

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http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/sports/columnists.nsf/berniemiklasz/story/E0246E789FC3BC5E86257588000FADD7?OpenDocument

Missouri has plenty to be proud about, even in loss

By Bernie Miklasz (bjmiklasz@post-dispatch.com)
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH


03/29/2009

GLENDALE, Ariz. ó The Missouri Tigers have nothing to apologize for. They didn't let themselves down. They didn't disappoint their true fans, either.

When a team of players gives you everything it has ó down to the last cramped muscle and burning sensation in the lungs ó there is no reason to say its sorry.

As coach Mike Anderson said late Saturday afternoon, minutes after the Tigers took their last, exhausting sprint: These kids gave us their blood, sweat and tears.

Mostly sweat ... gallons of it.

Enough sweat to make the Missouri and Mississippi rivers rise.

It was a great run. The Tigers couldn't quite reach the finish line in Detroit, the site of next weekend's Final Four. They were tackled by a superior opponent Saturday, the No. 1-seeded Connecticut Huskies.

UConn conquered Mizzou 82-75 in the West Region final.

Missouri was working on a dream, and UConn put an end to it.

"Missouri is really good," UConn coach Jim Calhoun said. "They are relentless. They are talented. The way Mike has taken that program to where it is now ... they certainly could be sitting here (as the winner). But we had a little extra."

That's all. Sometimes in sports, the better team wins. Yes, it's really that simple. And that was the case Saturday.

There were no villains here, no scapegoats, no reason to point fingers and cast blame.

There was some postgame sniping by some MU fans on the Internet message boards, criticizing Anderson for not using his seniors more in the final minutes. That grenade is a dud.

Anderson gave valuable minutes to Keith Ramsey and Justin Safford because they energized MU and led the charge, the comeback, on a day when seniors DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons weren't particularly effective on the boards or the defensive end. And Lyons and Carroll were burdened with foul trouble.

In the first half, when UConn shot 70 percent, Mizzou's two forwards didn't stop the Huskies' penetration and had one rebound between them. And the other senior, Matt Lawrence, struggled on man-to-man defense.

"Those guys deserved to be out there," Lyons said. "The guys who were sitting on the bench didn't have it going, and they did. Plain and simple."

"They were getting stops on defense, and they should have been out there," Lawrence said.

Besides, why would any reasonably intelligent MU fan expect Anderson to suddenly junk the system that got the Tigers so far?

He has a deep bench and he uses it to his advantage. UConn usually plays seven or eight guys, and the obvious goal was to wear them down. Anderson used his personnel accordingly, and depth was a notable factor in multiple MU comebacks.

Mizzou's bench clocked 62 minutes; UConn's bench played 40 minutes. And even with the foul woes, Lyons, Carroll and Lawrence matched their season averages for playing time.

When Mizzou held UConn to one basket in a stretch of 9 minutes, 7 seconds in the second half, the Tigers on the floor were Ramsey, Safford, Marcus Denmon, Kim English and the experienced J.T. Tiller. And Mizzou, down by seven, came back to take its first lead of the game, 50-49.

"The guys out there playing, I thought they had it going on," Anderson said. "They were playing well, and they were going to give us an opportunity to win. Some days guys don't have it, so you've got to go with the guys that had it going on."

There's no issue here. If Anderson's minutes plan backfired, it's because MU couldn't clamp down on UConn freshman guard Kemba Walker, who came off the bench to singe the Tigers for 23 points in 25 minutes.

The officials didn't cost MU the game, either. UConn attempted 32 foul shots and made 26. The Tigers got to the line only 12 times (making six). But the substantial disparity can be explained by each team's approach.

Missouri attempted 50 jump shots.

UConn attempted 28 jump shots.

"I think we may have settled for jump shots when we should have been attacking a little bit," Lawrence said.

Mizzou was unnerved by some early blocked shots by UConn bigs Hasheem Thabeet and Stanley Robinson. The Huskies never had such worries and became the more aggressive, attacking team. The Huskies coughed up 17 turnovers, but when they handled Mizzou's pressure and set up the offense, they easily invaded the lane and the glass. And that's how you get to the foul line.

UConn scored 34 points on layups or dunks, and most of the 26 made free throws were the result of sorties inside. Mizzou had no solution to UConn's dribble penetration. Anderson tried the matchup zone that worked against Memphis, but the wise Calhoun went with a stack offense and UConn found the holes in the zone.

Guards Walker and A.J. Price zeroed in for 41 combined points. UConn had more playmakers, and never ran out of fuel.

Mizzou gave it a heck of a shot. What a season, what a surprise, and what an unselfish, unyielding team. After years of scandal and slippage, Missouri basketball has proudly returned to the national map. And while that's no Final Four, it's a great place to start.

KChiefs1
03-29-2009, 03:16 PM
Photo Galleries:

http://missouri.rivals.com/photofeature.asp?SID=898&fid=27687

http://missouri.scout.com/2/851697.html

vailpass
03-29-2009, 04:14 PM
I was at the Mizzou-UCONN game yesterday.
*Thabeet really made a differnce for UCONN. They controlled the lane with him and blocked a lot of Mizzou shots. When Thabeet went out with fouls Mizzou went to the rack at will.

*MIzzous band and cheerleaders were excellent. The song they do that starts out almost like striptease music with the cheerleaders dancing to it and then moves into an upbeat number was very well done and very entertaining.

*Tiger mascot dominated wimpy looking Huskie mascot.

*Mizzou fans outnumbered UCONN 5-1.

*Football stadiums weren't made for basketball games

KChiefs1
03-29-2009, 05:56 PM
*Football stadiums weren't made for basketball games

I know it's all about $$$$$ but it's just plain stupid to have a basketball court in a football stadium.

Miss Understood
03-29-2009, 08:14 PM
Heart wrenching loss. Still a great season. Looking forward to seeing how the underclassmen develop next year.

duncan_idaho
03-29-2009, 08:37 PM
Only difference is that if Collins and Aldrich come back, along with Lance Stephenson, Elijah Johnson, and Thomas Robinson, Jeff Withey, and an improved Tyshawn Taylor, Morningstar, Reed, and Morris twins, KU instantly becomes a NC favorite and a top 3 team, with the depth we havent seen in a couple seasons, coming into next season.

MU comes in hoping to finish in top 5 in Big 12.

Which three players get their scholarship yanked to make all that happen for ku? You listed 11 players and did not count Relaford, Thomas, Appleton and Little. I know Self has no problem running off a player, but is he going to run off three in one offseason?

I know Morningstar has talked about becoming the type of player he should be (walk-on), but that still leaves two filled spots that would have to be opened.