Missouri is on a four-game winning streak but that doesn’t mean everything is all right.
Against Nebraska on Saturday and Colorado on Tuesday, the Tigers played terrible first halves relying on strong second-half play to pull out a win. Missouri coach Quin Snyder said that is not the way he wants his team playing.
“At this point in the year, we have to be more focused in our preparation,” Snyder said. “It’s one of those mysteries. We need to bring an electric treatment or something. Shock guys to get them ready to go.”
Snyder said the Tigers don’t have the luxury of not playing well for period of time let alone an entire half. It is a problem the Tigers have fought the entire year. The players don’t lack the effort needed to succeed but rather the mental focus, Snyder said. If the Tigers had the mental focus, it would translate into effort on the floor.
“Whether it’s sprinting the court in transition or getting ready to make a play,” Snyder said. “When we’re not ready we don’t make plays. We’re not that good.”
According to Snyder, the first-half relapses are a result of the Tigers forgetting their roles on the team and the way they need to play. The team’s early play has been so bad Snyder said he is almost relieved when his players pull out a victory. Still, he said he worries his team might be getting complacent with victories and might forget what it took to win those games.
A lack of communication during the game is a problem Snyder said was at the heart of the Tiger’s struggles.
“We need to talk to each other in order to be connected and to play hard,” Snyder said. “We don’t do that when we’re not focused.
“Even if it’s not your nature to talk, it’s something you figure out how to do because it helps your team win.”
Snyder said talking will help the players avoid making mistakes. A lot of the problems happen in situations that Snyder said he was sure his players knew how to handle. So he is baffled when the mistakes still happen. No matter what the reason, he said he is sure talking is a good remedy.
If he can’t get his players to talk, sometimes Snyder pulls them out of the game and talks with them personally on the bench. However, there are only so many rotations he can make.
“Taking guys out of the game is one way to get
their attention, but we’re not that deep right now,” Snyder said.
Snyder took advantage of his turn to talk during halftime Tuesday to try and motivate his guys. He said he yelled and got on his players. He also challenged them to do better. Whatever he said worked. The Tigers scored 45 points in the second half after having 18 in the first.
Senior Jason Conley sat out a large part of the first half because of foul trouble. He said the Tigers’ play was tough to watch but he knew the team would get it together. He couldn’t tell why the team was so lethargic.
“I don’t really have an answer for that,” Conley said. “I think we came in and our energy level, as far as a team, wasn’t really there in the first half. In the second half we came together.”
If things get really bad, Snyder always has his secret weapon Brian Dailey. Dailey’s constant exuberance is usually relegated to the bench, but when the team needs a pick-me-up Snyder sends him into the game.
“I try to bring energy everyday in practice and practice the things we believe in, toughness, energy and hunger,” Dailey said.