posted on January 20, 2013 11:30
Missouri suffered its worst loss since the 2008 season, and Saturday's 31-point blowout at the hands of the Florida Gators exposed some serious problems with the team that so far went unnoticed or ignored.
It was Missouri's second loss in three games. The Tigers are 3-3 over their last six. After a strong start to the season, where even an overtime loss to UCLA showed plenty of promise, the luster on Missouri's season has worn off.
There's no doubting the talent on this team. Even without Laurence Bowers, Missouri has the athletes to compete with anyone. When Bowers returns, maybe some problems will be mitigated. But the most troubling aspect of Saturday's game, however, showed in the post-game press conference.
(DISCLAIMER: I was not covering this game in person. But the quotes are online for anyone to see.)
Keion Bell, who had one of his best offensive games since the non-conference season, was asked about Florida's pressure that forced 21 turnovers and caused Missouri to shoot 32.7 percent from the field and 25 percent from three-point range.
"I just think that we, as a team, we underestimated the amount of pressure that their full-court press would put on us," Bell told reporters in Gainesville. "Although the coaching staff has embedded it in our brains throughout the whole week, we just didn't take heed to the things that they were saying about Florida's pressure, and we weren't ready at the beginning of the game."
Bell's quote articulated what everyone has been able to see in SEC play. The blowout at Ole Miss and the blowout in Gainesville showed that this is a team that hasn't listened to its coaching staff over the past few weeks. Florida's pressure shouldn't have been a surprise to anyone. Three teams have scored over 60 points against the Gators all season. It's not a secret that Florida's pressure defense has been its strongest attribute this season.
This isn't meant to denigrate Bell. He was just the spokesperson for the players on Saturday. But his statement shows there's some sort of disconnect between the team and the staff right now. Actually, the play on the court shows the disconnect -- his quotes just prove it.
After the game, Frank Haith said the team doesn't handle adversity well this season. A year ago, the team handled adversity from the onset, and it united them for a 30-4 regular season.
That isn't the case this season. Maybe it came too easy early on. Now, the adversity is real and palpable. How will Missouri respond?
The jury is still out.