Posted: Apr 21, 2014 8:00 PM by Tyler Greever, KOMU 8 Sports Reporter
Updated: Apr 21, 2014 8:10 PM
COLUMBIA - Faith is a funny thing.
At one moment, it can be confirmed and strengthened, like when the 2011-2012 Missouri basketball team won the Phillips 66 Big 12 Tournament title.
At another, it can be questioned and weakened, like when that same team lost as a two seed to fifteen seed Norfolk State in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
The faith in Haith slowly dropped over his three seasons at Missouri. That dreamlike first season with 30 wins ended in a nightmare in one of the biggest upsets in tournament history.
The second squad under Haith boasted a great deal of talent. Phil Pressey and Laurence Bowers returned to join newcomers like Jabari Brown, Keion Bell, Earnest Ross, and Alex Oriakhi. The team was ranked in the top 15 in the preseason.
But that team never seemed to gel and stumbled into the NCAA tournament as an eight seed. The end result of that season was the same as the first one; a loss in the first game, but this time to Colorado State.
This past season broke a five year streak of Missouri basketball being a part of March Madness. Instead, the Tigers played in the NIT and lost in the second round.
When evaluating the Haith years at Missouri, it's important to look at what caused his downfall.
Start off with the home record versus the away record. Inside of Mizzou Arena, Haith's Missouri teams were 49-4. But on the road, his Tiger squads were 12-18.
In the SEC, a conference that has only sent three teams to the NCAA tournament in each of the past two seasons, Haith's teams underwhelmed. Against SEC teams that made the NCAA tournament in the past two years, Missouri was 3-7. Against everyone else in the conference, the Tigers were 19-11.
But why would a coach leave an established, power conference school like Missouri for a much smaller school in Tulsa? Maybe because Haith knew next season could be tough for the Tigers.
Next season, Missouri loses its top three scorers in Jabari Brown, Jordan Clarkson, and Earnest Ross. Its only returning upperclassman is Ryan Rosburg.
When Haith boarded that plane to Tulsa, he knew it was a way out.
He knew next season would be pivotal to confirm any of Tiger Nation's remaining faith.
But maybe he lost faith in himself to live up to that.