By: Mark Stanley
COLUMBIA, Mo. – The Tigers opened up media day Friday afternoon following a 47-45 loss that caused a second round exit of the SEC Tournament back on March 3. During the loss, senior guard Morgan Stock led the Tigers in scoring with 17 points also with five of her six field goals coming from behind the arc.
When Coach Pingeton was asked how the rest of the team’s week had to watch the rest of the tournament being played without them, she said, “It was pretty miserable. It’s hard, there’s so many great things that our team’s been able to do this year, and I’m really proud of them and I think that after a tough loss like that, a tough end-of-the-season stretch, it takes some time to get proper perspective.”
The Tigers finished the regular season on a three-game losing streak including the tournament loss, but despite that they seem to be in pretty good shape to still be a lock for the NCAA Tournament. Coach Pingeton elaborated on the team’s confidence about making it into the bracket on Monday when she said, “I feel pretty good about it, you know, it doesn’t really matter how I feel, it matters how that committee feels. I do think that when you look at the resume, I think we’ve done some really good things this year and we should be in a good spot, but time will tell and we’ll have to deal with how the cards fall out and we’ll embrace it and move on from there, but I feel pretty strong about what we’ve been able to get done this year.”
Part of Mizzou’s struggles during their three-game losing stretch can be attributed to poor offensive play. During their final three games, including the tournament loss, Mizzou averaged a team field goal percentage around 38.7 percent as well as 32.2 percent from behind the arc. Coach Pingeton, although, acknowledged the need for a change in crispness on the offensive side of the ball during the practices following the Auburn loss as the team prepares for the tournament, saying “it’s a work in progress, I don’t know that we’ve got a ‘quick fix’ for it, but I think we look a lot more explosive. I think our cutting’s been a lot better. Timing’s maybe not exactly where we want it to be, but you’d expect that after five days off. So we’re still working on some of those kinks of extended time off, but I think we’ve got a great group and we’re playing in a tough league, and you can talk a lot about offense in some areas that we’ve got to show up in, but I also think you’ve got to give great credit to the league that we play in and how tough it is from an athletic standpoint and it’s a very defensive minded league.”
Another key to their offensive woes has been turnovers. Over Mizzou’s last three games, they totaled 52 turnovers. They had 17 against Vanderbilt, 15 against Kentucky, and 20 against Auburn. When Coach Pingeton was asked how the team planned to attack the turnover problem upon hearing their first opponent on Monday, she responded, “I think anyone that’s followed our program understands that that’s been our Achilles heel all year long is just that, turnovers. I know that we’re not the only team in the SEC, I know when you’re in it you feel like the only team that’s turning the ball over, but when you look at, statistically, what goes on in the SEC because of the athleticism, because of the physicality of play, there’s turnovers and you’ve got to be able to deal with them, but there’s too many empty possessions. We’ve got to do a better job of showing up and we’ve shown signs at times that we can do it, we just haven’t done it consistently, so, it’s just a constant work in progress or really breaking down film with your players and talking through situations, and continuing to work on those fundamentals in practice.”
The team will hold an event at Mizzou Arena on Monday evening to learn their fate for the NCAA Tournament during the Selection Show. The event will be open to the public and the doors will open at 5 p.m. The program will start at 5:30 p.m. and the Selection Show will start at 6 p.m. according to the team’s website.