Photo credit: MUTIGERS.COM
It was only Southern Indiana, and the final score of 97-91 really didn't tell us the whole story. Nevertheless, Mizzou's regular season opener on Monday night did give us some insight to Dennis Gates' team and his coaching style.
Here are some thoughts and observations while watching the game on SEC+.
Gates' starting lineup was the same as the exhibition game vs Washington University. Noah Carter, Kobe Brown, DeAndre Golston, D'Moi Hodge, and Nick Honor were on the floor at the opening tip-off. Also seeing significant playing time was Sean East II. All were on the floor for 23+ minutes, with Kobe Brown receiving the most time(30 minutes).
Aidan Shaw, the 6-8 freshman who is Mizzou's highest rated recruit since Michael Porter, Jr., saw only 12 minutes. However he made his impact felt going 4 for 5, with 9 points and pulling down 2 rebounds.
Kaleb Brown, Tre Gomillion, and Isiaih Mosley all received significant minutes, with Gomillion getting 12 points in 14 minutes.
Kobe Brown looks trimmer, stronger, and more versatile than he did last year. Brown led all scorers with 20 points, and led the team in rebounding with 14. Certainly an improved player from last year.
What was interesting and maybe telling, is the scholarship players who didn't get on the court or barely received playing time. The number one rated JUCO player in the nation from last year, 6-10 Mohamed Diarra, didn't get on the court. Neither did 7-2 Cleveland State transfer, Mabor Majak.
Additionally, Ronnie DeGray III, one of the 3 left overs from Cuonzo Martin's roster, was only on the court for 2 minutes. If these guys didn't get on the court against Southern Indiana, then when will we see them?
Southern Indiana laid 91 points on the Tigers. Mizzou built up double digit leads that were as much as 20 points against the Screaming Eagles, but never could put them away. Putting down 15 of 30 3-pointers was the main culprit which kept Southern Indiana in the game.
Still, this shouldn't have been that close. Concerning? Yes, but Coach Gates explained during his post-games comments why it might not be as concerning as it looks.
Gates said he could have easily gone to the zone defense to shut it down, but he wanted his team to learn from this game.. Essentially, he stayed man-to-man as a teaching moment to the team. In other words, he wanted more effort out of his team, and not give them the easy way out.
"I cannot rescue them", he added, "from situations that are going to teach us."
One of the struggles last year facing Cuonzo Martins team, was three point shooting. They just weren't very good. Last night the Tigers only went 7 for 28(25%) from the three point range. Somewhat disappointing.
Gates has attempt to solve this issue, was to bring transfers like Isiaih Mosley from Missouri State. Mosley shot an incredible 40 percent from 3-point range. Additionally, DeMoi Hodge, shot 33% while playing for Gates at Cleveland State, Sean East II shot 41% while at John A. Logan CC, and Nick Honor shot 32% while at Clemson.
You have to think there is too much proven talent for this team to struggle like it did from the 3-point line. It's just one game, but something to keep an eye on in as the season progresses.
More thoughts from last night game.
The Tigers had 20 assists and only 11 turnovers. As Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post Dispatch pointed out, it was the most assists in a game since 2017. Turnovers were a bugaboo last year with Martin's team. Considering the turnover in the roster that has resulted with a bunch of guys who have never played together, only 11 turnovers is a hopeful sign.
Over 10,000 fans showed up at Mizzou Arena to take a look at the Dennis Gates led Tigers. The student section looked full, which is a decent showing for a Monday night game vs a mid-major. Gates worked during the off-season to build excitement for this team, via personal appearances and social media. Hopefully, the trend will continue as the Tigers get deeper into the non-conference season.
Dennis Gates and the Mizzou Athletic staff should be credited to the way the non-conference schedule has been set up. With a new coach, nine transfers, and only three returning scholarship players to fill the roster, Gates needs time to figure out what he has before getting into the rugged SEC part of the schedule.
Penn, Lindenwood, SIUE, Mississippi Valley State, Coastal Carolina, and Houston Christian, all at Mizzou Arena, follow last night's game. This will give Gates time to evaluate and fine tune his team before he hits the meatier part of the schedule.
Starting in late November, the Tigers will face road games at Wichita State and Central Florida, Kansas at Mizzou Arena, and Illinois in St. Louis , before Kentucky comes calling in December at Columbia.
The Southern Indiana game didn't answer all the questions about this 2022-23 team. With this new roster, it's going take sometime to meld this team together. Any definite judgments on this Tiger team is premature. Still, as with the start with any season, hope abounds this team will be one Mizzou fans can be proud of.