Where We Stand: 2009-10 vs 2008-09

We spend a lot of time comparing this year's events to last year -- the Texas Tech win was a lot like the Oklahoma State win from last year, the OU loss can be compared to the Nebraska loss from last year, et cetera.  But since we have the stats available to us, how about we use them to compare Mizzou in mid-January to last year?

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Through three conference games last year, Mizzou stood at 2-1 in conference, 15-3 overall. Through a similar time period this year, Mizzou is 2-1 in conference, 14-4 overall. They have been mostly untouchable at home while still trying to find their bearings on the road -- at this point last year, they were 3-3 on the road or on a neutral court, this year they're 3-4.

Noting all the similarities, I thought it would be interesting to start trying to look at the differences.  Since I have been using the same structure and data pieces to write about the basketball team for well over a year now, I can find a similar point of comparison by simply going back and finding the post I wrote after last year's third conference game (a home romp over Iowa State) and seeing how things looked against "real" opponents at the time.

At this point in the season last year, Mizzou had played eight games against what I call "real" opponents, i.e. major conference teams, decent mid-majors, and road opponents.  Here is the list of last year's "real" opponents, with their final Ken Pomeroy rank for the season (I wish we could look at where they were ranked at this time last year, but we can't):

  • vs #20 Xavier (L, 71-75)
  • vs #24 Illinois (L, 59-75)
  • vs #26 USC (W, 83-72)
  • #32 California (W, 93-66)
  • at #64 Nebraska (L, 51-56)
  • #112 Iowa State (W, 77-46)
  • #168 Colorado (W, 107-62)
  • at #200 Georgia (W, 83-76)

Against opponents averaging a rank of 81.5, they were 5-3, averaging 78.0 points, giving up 66.0, and posting the following stats:

2008-09: Mizzou vs. "Real" Opponents after Three Big 12 Games

Mizzou Opp.
Points Per Minute
1.96 1.65
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.13 0.95
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.31 1.25
2-PT FG% 52.6% 45.6%
3-PT FG% 35.6% 33.3%
FT% 65.5% 64.2%
Mizzou Opp.
Assists 137 102
Steals 83 44
Turnovers 95 152
Ball Control Index
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.32 0.96
Mizzou Opp.
Expected Offensive Rebounds 99 98
Offensive Rebounds 97 97
Difference -2 -1

 

Player AdjGS* GS/Min Line
DeMarre Carroll 14.66 0.52 14.6 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.8 SPG
Leo Lyons 13.15 0.56 14.9 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.4 SPG
J.T. Tiller 10.33 0.43 9.0 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.8 SPG
Zaire Taylor 8.85 0.35 7.5 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.8 APG
Kim English 6.91 0.48 7.6 PPG, 0.8 RPG, 1.3 APG
Keith Ramsey 6.64 0.42 4.3 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 0.9 APG, 1.4 BPG
Marcus Denmon 6.52 0.37 7.8 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 1.3 APG
Laurence Bowers 5.56 0.65 5.0 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 0.8 APG
Matt Lawrence 4.23 0.20 5.3 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 0.5 APG
Justin Safford 3.13 0.29 3.4 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 1.0 APG
Miguel Paul 0.80 0.06 2.6 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 1.4 APG
Michael Anderson Jr.
0.76 0.11 0.0 PPG, 1.3 RPG, 1.0 Coach's Son
Jarrett Sutton 0.20 0.07 1 Walk-On 3-pointer every 3 games
Steve Moore 0.12 0.02 1.0 PPG, 1.3 RPG, 0.7 APG

This season, Mizzou is 6-4 against "real" opponents, with the following results and rankings:

  • #9 Kansas State (W, 74-68)
  • at #21 Vanderbilt (L, 83-89)
  • vs #28 Old Dominion (W, 66-61)
  • vs #50 Illinois (W, 81-68)
  • vs #73 Richmond (L, 52-59)
  • at #90 Oklahoma (L, 61-66)
  • at #91 Texas Tech (W, 94-89)
  • #94 Georgia (W, 89-61)
  • #103 Oregon (W, 106-69)
  • at #151 Oral Roberts (L, 59-60)

They are 6-4 against teams averaging a rank of 71.0, scoring 76.5 points and allowing 69.0.  In other words, against a slightly better average opponent, they are scoring 1.5 fewer points and allowing 3.0 more, with a very similar win percentage.  Here are their stats:

2009-10: Mizzou vs. "Real" Opponents after Three Big 12 Games

Mizzou
(2009-10)
Opp.
(2009-10)
Mizzou
(2008-09)
Opp.
(2008-09)
Points Per Minute
1.89 1.70 1.96 1.65
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.08 0.97 1.13 0.95
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.24 1.22 1.31 1.25
2-PT FG% 44.5% 45.6% 52.6% 45.6%
3-PT FG% 37.3% 32.2% 35.6% 33.3%
FT% 73.3% 72.1% 65.5% 64.2%
Mizzou Opp. Mizzou Opp.
Assists/Gm 15.2 10.6 17.1 12.8
Steals/Gm 10.3 6.7 10.4 5.5
Turnovers/Gm 13.7 19.9 11.9 19.0
Ball Control Index
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.86 0.87 2.32 0.96
Mizzou Opp. Mizzou Opp.
Expected Offensive Rebounds/Gm 13.7 12.8 12.4 12.3
Offensive Rebounds/Gm 14.1 14.9 12.1 12.1
Difference/Gm +0.4 +2.1 -0.3 -0.1
  • Points Per Minute: Mizzou is scoring slightly fewer and allowing slightly more.
  • Points Per Possession: Mizzou is scoring slightly fewer and allowing slightly more.
  • Points Per Shot: Mizzou is scoring slightly fewer and allowing slightly fewer. (So they're allowing fewer per shot, but giving up more shots.)
  • 2-PT FG%: Mizzou is shooting significantly worse, their opponents exactly the same.
  • 3-PT FG%: Mizzou is slightly better, their opponents slightly worse.
  • FT%: Mizzou and their opponents are both shooting better, resulting in basically the same margin.
  • Assists/Gm: Mizzou is averaging 1.9 fewer, allowing 2.2 fewer.
  • Steals/Gm: Mizzou is averaging the same, allowing 1.2 more.
  • Turnovers/Gm: Mizzou is averaging 1.8 more, forcing 0.9 more.  Biggest culprits: J.T. Tiller, who has done a much worse job of handling the ball this year, and Keith Ramsey, who is averaging more turnovers than Leo Lyons in similar minutes.
  • BCI: Mizzou is a decent amount worse this year.  Their opponents are a hair worse as well.
  • Rebounding: In terms of expected rebounds, Mizzou averages about one more offensive rebound per game than last year.  Meanwhile, they give up about two more.

Here are this year's individual stats.

Player AdjGS* GS/Min Line
Laurence Bowers 14.1 0.66 10.5 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.7 BPG, 1.1 APG, 1.1 SPG
Zaire Taylor 10.2 0.37 7.9 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.9 SPG
Marcus Denmon 9.8 0.49 11.2 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 0.7 APG, 1.0 SPG
Keith Ramsey 9.0 0.32 5.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.5 SPG, 1.2 BPG, 2.1 TOPG
Kim English 8.7 0.35 13.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 0.8 APG, 1.4 SPG, 2.3 TOPG
J.T. Tiller 8.2 0.32 9.6 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.5 SPG, 2.6 TOPG
Mike Dixon 5.9 0.37 7.5 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 1.6 APG
Justin Safford 5.7 0.28 8.1 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 0.8 APG
Tyler Stone 2.6 0.98 8 minutes
Miguel Paul 0.9 0.10 1.2 PPG, 0.3 RPG, 1.6 APG
John Underwood 0.8 0.39 6 minutes
Jarrett Sutton 0.8 0.42 4 minutes
Steve Moore 0.6 0.07 0.5 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 0.5 APG

Let's look at position stats, using the GS/Min measure:

Point Guards

  • 2008-09: Zaire Taylor 0.35/min, Miguel Paul 0.06
  • 2009-10: Zaire Taylor 0.37/min, Mike Dixon 0.37, Miguel Paul 0.10
  • Advantage: 2009-10

Shooting Guards

  • 2008-09: J.T. Tiller 0.43/min, Marcus Denmon 0.37
  • 2009-10: J.T. Tiller 0.32/min, Marcus Denmon 0.49
  • Advantage: 2008-09 (because Tiller averages more minutes)

Small Forwards

  • 2008-09: Kim English 0.48, Goose Lawrence 0.20
  • 2009-10: Kim English 0.35
  • Advantage: Push (Kimmeh is worse this year, but Goose was a major drag on the numbers until later in the season)

Bigs

  • 2008-09: DeMarre Carroll 0.52, Leo Lyons 0.56, Keith Ramsey 0.42, Justin Safford 0.29, Laurence Bowers 0.65, Steve Moore 0.02
  • 2009-10: Keith Ramsey 0.32, Laurence Bowers 0.66, Justin Safford 0.28, Steve Moore 0.07, Tyler Stone 0.98, John Underwood 0.39
  • Advantage: 2008-09 (Bowers is doing his best, but Ramsey simply doesn't bring the offense that Carroll/Lyons did ... and how fascinating is it that the bigs' numbers barely changed from last year? Bowers and Safford are exactly the same, while Ramsey is the only one who has changed in any significant amount)

Compared with last year, Mizzou is better at the point guard position thanks to Mike Dixon's contribution (Zaire Taylor has produced at roughly the same level), worse at shooting guard (J.T. is simply turning the ball over too much, while Denmon is negating some of that with his own improvement), about the same at small forward (it really wasn't a strength last year either), better at the Big #1 spot (Bowers is actually outplaying DeMarre ... think about that), and worse at Big #2, #3, etc.  Their three biggest weaknesses as compared to last year: 1) 2-point shooting, 2) turnovers committed, and 3) defensive rebounding.  Despite the recent slump, they are a better 3-point and free throw shooting team, and they are actually forcing more turnovers and grabbing more offensive rebounds than last year.

(You could also make the case that "leadership" would be weakness #4 -- nobody led by example better than DeMarre -- but since there's really no way to measure that, I'll just float it out there, then go back to focusing on what the numbers tell us.)

Now, there is some good news here amid the weaknesses.  First, the level at which Mizzou has shot 2-pointers in recent games is almost unsustainably bad, and it is hurting their overall numbers.  It will almost certainly improve, at least marginally.  Plus, the defensive rebounding has already begun to improve -- against Illinois, Georgia and their three Big 12 opponents, they have more or less broken even on the boards, and their numbers are suffering mostly because of how bad they started the season.

The biggest question mark in terms of whether things can improve comes in the form of turnovers committed.  Ramsey turns the ball over as much as Lyons or Carroll did, only he comes without the offensive upside.  But he is also one of the primary reasons Mizzou is forcing one more turnover per game.  In other words, he is what he is.  But J.T. Tiller and Kim English (and, in fewer minutes, Miguel Paul) are all averaging 0.14 turnovers per minute in conference play, and they simply must get better and make better decisions with the ball.  If they do, the ceiling is still pretty high for this team even though they are indeed suffering from the lack of another interior scorer (as we figured they would this year).  If they don't, then there are plenty of good defenses left on the schedule to make them pay.  You can't press if you're not only not scoring, but not even getting off a shot, and if Mizzou can't press, they can't win at a high rate.  Bring it, J.T. and Kimmeh.

It's strange, really.  Thanks to Bowers' box score-filling ability, we actually don't miss DeMarre Carroll that much.  Who do we miss the most?  Leo Lyons ... and last year's J.T. Tiller.

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