The Missouri Tigers will play either Texas AandM or Auburn tomorrow in the second round of the SEC tournament. My guess is they will be playing Texas AandM unless Auburn pulls a major upset today. Missouri missed their chance for a double bye in the tournament by losing to Tennessee last Saturday. Missouri has Phil Pressey to thank for that which in my opinion takes us to the root of Missouri’s problems and why it is so difficult for me to fully embrace this team.
Missouri could have finished in second place in the SEC had they defeated Tennessee. That is more a reflection on how down the SEC was this year than Missouri having a great year. Missouri had a good year and did exceed my expectations on certain levels but I can’t say they had a great year. They finished 2 and 8 on the road and several of their road losses were against teams they should not have lost to.
One of the most disturbing parts of this year for Tigers fans has been their inability to win close games. If they have a big lead going into the final seconds of the game they are fine, if they are down by a considerable margin then the game is over, however if they are within striking distance then in most cases the game is over as well. The same person who has been a key part of their success has also been an integral part of their problems winning close games. Phil Pressey is the most frustrating college basketball player I have ever watched play on a regular basis. He clearly has loads of physical talent and can be exciting to watch throughout the course of a game. However, his decision making ability makes it impossible for him to be considered a team leader or even someone who can be counted on. Phil Pressey simply cannot handle pressure type situations. He cannot make crucial late game decisions that a floor leader who plays at his level needs to be able to make. The same young man that leads the team throughout the game seals their fate at the end of the game by taking horrendous shots that have no chance of going into the basket. The same young man who can run the team’s offense very effectively during the game apparently decides he is the only person who needs to be taking shots and simply refuses to pass the ball to someone who is in a better position to make a shot than he is. This is not only frustrating to watch as a fan but it is not the way to play the game and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind he has been told that many times by his coach. However, he either doesn’t get it or doesn’t care. In my opinion the only chance Missouri has of going anywhere this post season is if Phil Pressey is on the bench for the last two minutes of the game if Missouri has any chance of winning at all or has a lead in which the opposing team is close enough to catch. There have certainly been players throughout the history of college basketball and the NBA who have had the ability to take over the final seconds of a game but Phil Pressey isn’t one of them. I certainly do not pretend to know everything about basketball but what I do know or at least think I know is that part of the ability to be able to close out games and take that all important final shot is just as much mental as it is physical. In fact, I’d be willing to guess it is much more mental than physical. I think a lot of the ability to do that comes from being patient and either waiting for that open shot or creating it. Pressey either can or won’t do that and thust takes shots that have no chance of making it. If he is to reach the next level and can truly be counted on at the end of the game then he has to learn how to make better decisions on the court. Until he does that then Frank Haith either needs to remove him from the game during the last couple of minutes or we have to expect that when the game is on the line it is very likely Missouri isn’t going to win.
We’ll be back on Friday with a look at this weekend’s sports action and an update on spring training baseball. Thanks for supporting this and all the other blogs on the site and remember your comments are always welcome.
Have a wonderful Wednesday!