SPRINGFIELD, Mo–I know it seems like an eternity ago, but it was only ten days ago that Missouri State opened the Valley post season tournament known as Arch Madness.
The Bears went 1-1 in St. Louis, ending a below 500 season.
But there were some signs of a brighter Bear future.
Missouri State’s experience at Arch Madness mirrored the 2019, 2020 season.
A blowout win over Indiana State that fizzled into a flat season ending defeat against Valparaiso.
Dana Ford’s Bears were 16-17 overall, he’s 32-33 in two seasons.
“I’m sure I let a lot of people down, but life is like that sometimes,” said Ford.
Ford’s taking the blame for this roller coaster season, but despite the record there were some bright spots.
And more importantly those positive factors are players that will get better with age.
Ford:”I’m sure there are some things we can build off of when you look back. Once we kind of unload and look back there will be some teaching points. And some positive carryover.”
Just after the start of the conference season, Ford decided to impliment a youth movement.
He put Ja’monta Black, Isiaih Mosley and Gaige Prim into the starting lineup.
It was move to spark some energy, but it also gave freshman Black and Mosley much valued experience in the Missouri Valley Conference.
“Our freshman and stuff, they were thrown into the fire. They’ve been through the experience and know what to expect. In the next couple of years they’ll be ready for the opportunity and can seize the opportunity,” said Keandre Cook Missouri State senior.
Isiaih Mosley seized his chance.
The 6-5 Forward scored in double figures 13 times this season and is ninth on the all-time Bears freshman scoring list with 257 points.
“We just have to work hard. And make sure that we get back here and this time seal it off. And go to March Madness,” said Mosley.
Mosley’s high school teammate Ja’monta Black had a big freshman campaign as well, starting 20 games averaging three points and two rebounds a contest.
And the Valley was introduced to Gaige Prim.
The 6-8 forward averaged 14 points per game and making third team All-Valley and the league’s all-Newcomer team.
Prim battled through a lower body injury the first half of the season but should be healthy next year.
Prim:”I’ll work to exhaustion. I know all our guys will. We’re just going to prepare for next year. And we’ll be a scary team next year.”
So the future looks bright for the Bears, something that can make even the coach feel better.
Ford:”I love coaching those guys. Looking forward to working with them whenever we’re allowed to get back out there with them. I think they’re awesome. Great kids on and off the floor. Good young Valley players.”