It’s Pretty Much Over for Cuonzo, So How Do We Fix Mizzou Basketball?

Mizzou got waxed by 19 points at home by Tennessee Tuesday night. Cuonzo Martin is now effectively doing worse in his fifth season at Mizzou than Kim Anderson was in his third season. Kim Anderson was burdened by NCAA-imposed scholarship limitations, horrendous recruiting and just overall not being a good coach. He chased off top 100 talent in his first year and by the end of it, his best players were guys who would have trouble breaking into rotations at mid-majors.

Cuonzo Martin is now a half decade removed from one of the best recruiting classes in school history and all he has to show for it is an 0-2 record in the NCAA tournament, a decimated roster and absolutely no reason to think things are going to get better in the future. His 2022 recruiting class currently sits at #55 in the country (247 Sports). His alleged recruiting prowess in St. Louis has yielded jack squat. Mizzou arena sits 75% empty on most nights. What was once one of the toughest arenas in all of basketball is now a mausoleum at the hands of another failed basketball hire at Mizzou.

This is not what a successful coaching tenure looks like in year five.

We heard plenty of bloviating from Cuonzo about molding young men and outfitting them for life after basketball, but it looks like Cuonzo’s preaching from the pulpit is lip service at best. Many Cal and Tennessee fans warned about Cuonzo’s knack for this when he was hired in Columbia. The results just don’t speak for themselves.

Cuonzo’s slow motion self destruction was no more apparent in Mizzou’s tournament appearance last season. Mizzou led 55-54 with six minutes to play. With the game on the line, Cuonzo ran off a string of infuriating decisions that included benching star PG Xavier Pinson for the worst point guard I’ve ever seen play at Mizzou, Drew Buggs. Pinson had five assists in 18 minutes. Buggs played 22 minutes, shot 33%, missed a key free throw and had one assist.

I was ready to move on from him after that and I’m sure most people were too. Now it’s over for him. There’s no justification you can use to bring him back.

So now here we go again. Time to resurrect Mizzou basketball blah blah blah.

Mizzou is not the basketball destination it once was. The program has not teetered on irrelevance. It flat out is irrelevant. Look at the attendance. No one wants to support this loser. The work is cut out for Desiree Reed-Francois. Maryland and K-State are going to be looking for head coaches. Two programs with much more recent national success than Mizzou. Don’t think Sean Miller and his baggage is strolling through that door just because. The top of the market is crowded.

How do you fix Mizzou basketball?

For one, stop Thinking St. Louis is some sort of magic fairy dust. If you want to go hunting down some magic fairy dust in St. Louis, be my guest. You’ll wake up with your kidneys missing in a Super 8 in Peoria.

Kansas does not rely on Wichita. Wichita State doesn’t even rely on Wichita. Michigan doesn’t rely on Detroit. I’m not saying Mizzou has to be anyone but themselves, but let’s stop thinking that locking down the borders means anything anymore. Recruiting is a national game now. It’s never been a viable strategy for Mizzou. The best teams in program history have all been built with recruits from all over the country. There’s a formula there and it does not involve going balls out in STL. Stop with the limiting mindset that your success is tied to one region, let alone one city.

Mizzou hired Cuonzo Martin in part because of his alleged ties there. Look what happened.

Is the answer Sean Miller on a high ticket contract? Maybe. His baggage doesn’t seem all that bad with NIL legislation going through. Chris Mack, a known quantity, is also available. His baggage is a little more palatable.

What I do know is that I am not ready to eat whatever the leftovers are. Frank Haith was leftovers. Cuonzo Martin was leftovers. Kim Anderson was that tupperware full of old potato salad you forgot about in the back of the fridge.

Do not go after any of the following. For the love of god: Tom Crean, Jeff Capel, Bruce Weber. If those names start to leak out, god help us.

Go big on the best. available. coach. Throw the hail mary. Hit on the prettiest girl at the dance. It’s long past time to get sexy again. I am talking Quin Snyder levels of sexy. The sexiest hire in the history of sexy hires. Probably the only time Mizzou has ever made a sexy hire. There’s no way going sexy blows up in our face again!

Take the damn risk. We’re ready. No more leftovers. Surf ‘n turf. What your baby wants, your baby gets.