Thursday, May 26, 2022

Cuonzo Martin out at Missouri after five seasons following 12-21 season for Tigers

After five seasons on the job, Cuonzo Martin is out as Missouri’s coach, the school announced Friday. Missouri’s season ended with a 76-68 loss to LSU in the second round of the SEC Tournament on Thursday. The move comes after a 12-21 (5-13 SEC) season for the Tigers, who made two NCAA Tournament appearances during Martin’s tenure. The former Tennessee and California coach departs with an 78-77 mark during his time with the program. 

“Coach Martin represented the University with an extremely high level of class and dignity,” Missouri athletic director Desireé Reed-Francois said in a statement. “He is a man of high character whom I have the upmost respect for, and we are grateful for his contributions to our program, on and off the floor. He is not only a coach, but is a teacher, and he has impacted the lives of every student-athlete who came through the program over the last five years. We wish him, Roberta, and their family nothing but the best in the future.”

Martin left Cal after three seasons to replace Kim Anderson after Anderson’s three-year run that saw the Tigers go just 27-68 (8-46 SEC). Given the status of things upon his arrival, Martin overachieved by getting his first team to the 2018 NCAA Tournament. That team finished 20-13 (10-8 SEC) and earned a No. 8 seed for the Big Dance before bowing out with a loss to Florida State in the first round.

But in the four years since, Missouri failed to finish with a winning record in SEC play amid injuries and unmet expectations. Martin promptly signed the nation’s No. 4 ranked recruiting class upon taking the job as he landed five-star brothers Michael and Jontay Porter in the 2017 signing class. 

However, Michael Porter played in just three games for the Tigers due to injury and Martin was unable to replicate that recruiting success in future classes. Missouri reached No. 10 in the AP poll last season amid a 13-3 start, but the Tigers faded down the stretch by losing seven of their final 10 games, including a Round of 64 NCAA Tournament game against Oklahoma.

Amid the departure of Missouri’s four top scorers from last season’s team, Martin retooled his roster via the transfer portal. But things got off to a rough start with non conference losses to the likes of Kansas City and Liberty, and they never improved. A 92-86 home victory over Alabama on Jan. 8 highlighted this season’s accomplishments, but that game was followed up with an 87-43 loss at Arkansas four days later.

Among the names to watch for the Missouri opening are Murray State’s Matt McMahon, George Mason’s Kim English, Baylor assistant Jerome Tang and San Francisco’s Todd Golden, according to CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander.

“I believe that Mizzou is one of the best men’s basketball coaching jobs in the country,” Reed-Francois said. “Our University is the flagship institution of our great state and a member of the Southeastern Conference, the premier league in college athletics. We are located in a recruiting hotbed and there’s incredible alignment between our department and our President and Board of Curators. We have—and will—continue to invest in our men’s basketball program and I look forward to introducing the new leader of our program to our community in the near future. We will work quickly and expeditiously to find the candidate who is the best fit to continue building our championship culture.”

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