Hello from CoMo: Why Missouri game might be closer than record gap indicates

The Lady Bulldogs Report is on-site in Columbia ahead of Sunday's game.

COLUMBIA, Mo. — It’s cold.

The temperature a stone’s throw from the University of Missouri campus reads one degree as I write this entry for you guys on Saturday evening. One. Uno. Chloe Chapman’s jersey number.

That’s cold. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Needless to say, I won’t be going outside much.

But hello friends. A flight and shuttle ride later, I’m readying to step into Mizzou Arena for Georgia’s (15-4, 7-4 SEC) showdown with an improving Missouri team. I took the opportunity — after testing negative for Covid-19, wearing two masks and a KN95 as base protection — to visit another college town, but also give you guys a glimpse of what Georgia women’s basketball used to be and should be.

Deep. Consistent. On-site. Not taken lightly. So, let’s do it. I said that I would bring my best work, and I do not think I lied. I’ll continue to try and achieve what I set out for.

First impressions: Cool place, and an ideal location to stay.

I do wish it were warmer, though, because some exploration would be fun. After going outside for three minutes to get out of the airport and my ears going numb, I do not have much desire to stay anywhere other than heated venues.

At least I got to do the trendy Columbia thing and get some grub from Shakespeare’s. I was told that it’s a better experience inside, but again … no.

Some good food, though, doesn’t disappoint.

I flew into St. Louis with the benefits of seeing snow-covered ground and getting a true taste of winter. I know us southerners like to complain about weather, but this is to a new level. I didn’t think I could ever fathom this level of cold.

Enough of the spiel that almost feels like a kid writing in a diary. That’s kind of what the goal was anyways. I just wanted to say hello from a few hundred miles away, voice my appreciation for your support and show y’all what I have been up to.

Now, onto a bit of real journalism.

Georgia held shootaround at Mizzou Arena ahead of Sunday’s 1 p.m. central (2 p.m. EST, SEC Network) tip time. I caught the videos posted to Instagram and noticed a couple of welcomed returns — sophomore Chloe Chapman and freshman Sarah Ashlee Barker. I can’t imagine they’d make the trip to be active participants in shootaround and not play.

So, my bet is that Joni Taylor has two more bench guards at her disposal than she had the other night.

I’m an avid watcher of SEC women’s basketball. I’ve kept a close eye on Missouri while knowing this game would come soon. The Tigers have eight losses. I know you might say “Well, OK, that’s good. Should be an easy win for Georgia.”

That’s not a true eight-loss team. Those defeats are the result of an early-season pause and the rigors of the SEC. Missouri is impressive, and Robin Pingeton repeatedly proves to have an impressive group. After a post-Sophie Cunningham rebuild, the Tigers are led by Aijha Blackwell, and she could give the Lady Bulldogs some problems.

Blackwell is one of the SEC’s best with 13.5 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. She’s not even Missouri’s leading scorer, though, as South Carolina transfer guard LaDazhia Williams averages 14.3 points per night.

A younger group hasn’t completely jelled yet, but the Tigers are rapidly coming into form. That’s why there is potential for this to be a tougher game, and Missouri’s record should be discarded. Remember late last season for a young Georgia team? It felt like it could beat a lot of teams by the end, regardless of entering games with a handful of losses.

A few nights ago, the Tigers went to the other Columbia to face No. 1 South Carolina. Missouri went into intermission tied with the group that hasn’t seemed to lose a conference game in a decade. South Carolina still didn’t after escaping with a 15-point win, but Missouri hung around.

Georgia won’t be able to walk in on Sunday and coast to victory. But if you didn’t know that by now, then you should watch a fun basketball league. The Lady Bulldogs will have to execute. They can’t turn the ball over 28 times — and goodness, I hope I never have to watch that fest of ugly again by any team.

It won’t be easy. That’s my point and the end of my spiel with a bit of journalism sprinkled in.

I’ll have another note below. But, y’all be safe out there. See you guys on the live thread. Subscribe if you like what I’m working on over here!

NCAA releases health guidelines for the tournament in San Antonio

Georgia has 15 wins and sits in a nice spot in the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) ratings. The chances at returning to the NCAA tournament in San Antonio, Tex. seem very, very strong at this point.

So, it’s probably worth a peek at what things might look like for players and families in the proverbial bubble. The NCAA released guidelines on Saturday.

Here are some highlights as the tournament is navigated during the pandemic:

  • All Tier 1 traveling participants must document seven negative Covid-19 tests before arriving in San Antonio. One of the seven tests must be a PCR test.

  • If a participant tests positive or is placed under quarantine, they will be managed by local health authorities and cannot travel to San Antonio until the period of isolation is completed.

  • All Tier 1 participants will wear contact tracing devices throughout the tournament when actively training or playing. Georgia and the SEC have implemented this measure since the season’s start with KINEXON devices.

  • Testing and contact tracing will not be required for asymptomatic Tier 1 individuals who are at least two weeks post-infection and within 90 days of the first known date of infection. They are, however, required to wear masks and distance.

  • Each Tier 1 guest can have six guests (up to 408 guests total) allowed in each venue per game. Those guests are prohibited from interacting in person with any Tier 1 participant during the entire tournament.

  • The final attendance policy, likely in regard to fans, will be announced at a later date.