Play on-Missouri tops Davidson in first round of the NIT

This season's downward spiral didn't start last fall.

It didn't start with Missouri's loss to mediocre Illinois on Dec. 21.

Merry Christmas, Tiger fans.

It didn't start with the loss to an even less-than-mediocre Georgia --- at Mizzou Arena, no less.

This started years ago with Frank Haith's actions at Miami, Fla.

Haith, now the Missouri head coach, did some things he shouldn't have done, was investigated for years, and was ultimately suspended for the first five games of this season.

Bad Frank. Go sit in the corner. Swat him with a newspaper, if you want.

You probably know what happened. If you don't, never mind, it doesn't really matter at this point.

Without Haith, the Tigers still started this season 5-0, beating three YMCA teams, one from the Salvation Army, and one team from your neighbor's driveway.

This season's highlight, certainly, came in December with a win over UCLA. This came on the same day the Missouri football team gave up 402 points and 2,500 rushing yards to Auburn in the SEC Championship game in Atlanta.

Or something like that. But nobody is complaining about the Tigers' football season. It was one of those days.

Okay, there was another highlight to this basketball season ... nobody died.

But there were arrests, along with that NCAA suspension. And five losses to teams that also ended up in the NIT and one that didn't even make the CBI. On the bright side, MU didn't lose to a team in the CIT.

Do we really need the CBI or the CTI? Or wisdom teeth?

The Tigers didn't make the NCAA Tournament this year. They were a very mediocre team in a very mediocre conference.

Hey, Kentucky didn't make it last year after winning it all the year before. It happens.

But then, we should not confuse Missouri with Kentucky. Kentucky has won 2,135 games, the most in NCAA history, and eight national championships, second only to UCLA.

Missouri has its own NCAA record --- most appearances in the NCAA Tournament (25) without an appearance in the Final Four.

Anybody who's not in a straight jacket wouldn't have thought Missouri would make it to the Final Four this year. Still, not dancing is a disappointment.

Not seeing Missouri pop up on the CBS Selection Show on Sunday is a disappointment.

Not having hope for something magical to happen --- even if that hope only lasts a few days --- is a disappointment.

Instead, the Tigers ended up the NIT, hosting Davidson on Tuesday night before a throng of a few thousand fans at Mizzou Arena.

But the Tigers won, 85-78. Play on ... even though their defense was more transparent than the invisible man.

For you fans who want Haith fired, stop it, it's not going happen. Having said that, Faith in Haith is less fragile than a bubble in your bubble bath.

Spring football has started. Actual football games are coming in five months. It's time to get out the grill, take the kids to the park. Play golf. Go fishing. Enjoy the sunshine.

Put this basketball season to the side, even though it's still going.

Unless you can't wait to hold up the "We're No. 69 sign!"