Know Your Cancun Rival: Wyoming

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When Mizzou takes on Wyoming on Tuesday evening in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, they'll be facing one of the longest, most unique teams they'll see all season.  Six of the Cowboys' seven best players (according to AdjGS) are 6'6 or taller, and they draw a ton of fouls (while making a respectable 70% of their free throws).  But they can't shoot from the outside, and considering their height, they are average rebounding team at best.  They handled Western Illinois more easily than Missouri did, but they also lost by double digits to North Florida.  Plus, they have potentially the greatest collection of names on Mizzou's schedule.  A starting five of Djibril, JayDee, Desmar, Francisco and Amath?  Yes, please.

Wyoming: 2-2


Wyoming
Opp.
Pace (No. of Possessions)
66.2
Points Per Minute
1.68
1.60
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.02
0.97
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.30
1.13
2-PT FG% 54.6%
42.0%
3-PT FG% 27.3%
34.8%
FT% 70.3%
69.1%
True Shooting % 54.4%
49.8%




Wyoming Opp.
Assists/Gm 11.3
10.8
Steals/Gm 6.5
4.8
Turnovers/Gm 13.3
13.3
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.34
1.17




Wyoming Opp.
Expected Off. Rebounds/Gm
11.3
13.0
Offensive Rebounds/Gm 8.5
10.8
Difference -2.8
-2.2

They shoot well inside the arc (and quite poorly outside), and they are long enough to hold their opponents to a low FG%, especially on 2-pointers (they rank 62nd in Block%).  I mentioned yesterday that I figure the ballroom in Cancun is not going to present the best shooting environment -- it's a smidge scary to think about Mizzou a) struggling to connect on 3-pointers because of the environment (and their general 3-point schizophrenia) and b) struggling to connect on well-challenged 2-pointers against a long team that doesn't foul a lot.

Wyoming is okay from a BCI standpoint.  They don't give up a ton of steals, and their overall turnover numbers are not great, but not terrible.

The biggest surprise is, like I said, the rebounding.  They are solid on the defensive end, but considering their length, they are absolutely terrible on the offensive glass.

Ken Pomeroy Stats

Wyoming Offense vs MU Defense Ranks

UW Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 185
21
MU big
Effective FG% 249
111
MU big
Turnover % 213
4
MU big
Off. Reb. % 262
30
MU big
FTA/FGA 64
112
UW
MU Offense vs Wyoming Defense Ranks

MU Offense UW Defense Advantage
Efficiency 24
218
MU big
Effective FG% 100
187
MU
Turnover % 86
258
MU big
Off. Reb. % 155
203
MU
FTA/FGA 125
66
UW


Where the Cowboys are weakest

As mentioned above, they are a god-awful offensive rebounding team, and they have no excuse for that.  They are right in the middle of the pack in terms of the turnovers they commit on offense, but considering that is Mizzou's biggest strength, you probably need to be better than middle-of-the-pack.  They don't shoot very well overall, but as we will see, they figure out ways around that.  On defense, they don't force many turnovers, and they allow a few too many offensive rebounds given their aforementioned length.

Where they are best

They get to the line a ton -- it masks their general inability to shoot.  The officiating could be absolutely huge in this game; if the calls are ticky-tack, then Mizzou could get into foul trouble on both the perimeter and interior.  But if Wyoming isn't getting to the line, they probably aren't going to score very much at all.  On defense, they are as good at avoiding fouls as they are at drawing them on offense.  While shooting is not a strength, one gets the impression that they have excellent overall body control.

Wyoming's Season to Date

  • Wins (Team Rank is from KenPom.com)
    #250 Western Illinois (64-55)
    Kean (NR) (92-58)
  • Losses
    at #130 Northern Colorado (53-67)
    #281 North Florida (60-76)

I tend to build teams up a bit when I'm writing these posts, and to be sure, there is a clear blueprint for Wyoming beating Mizzou -- challenging inside shots, watching Mizzou's 3's clank off the rim repeatedly, and getting to the line a ton on offense.  It bears mentioning, however, that ... well, despite what seem to be a couple of well-defined strengths, this is a team that has already lost to both Northern Colorado and North Florida by double digits this year.  Their stats have been propped up by a win over Division III Kean University (the Fightin' Cougars from Union Township, NJ!).  They scored just 53 and 60 points in their two losses to subpar teams ... this despite the fact that they don't play at an amazingly slow pace.

Wyoming Player Stats

Player AdjGS*/Gm GmSc/Min Line
Djibril Thiam (6'10, 215, Sr.) 12.0 0.51 23.8 MPG, 11.5 PPG (58.6% FG), 3.5 RPG, 1.8 BPG, 1.8 TOPG
JayDee Luster (5'9, 160, Jr.) 9.1 0.31 29.0 MPG, 8.3 PPG (25.0% 3PT), 3.8 APG, 2.5 RPG, 1.8 TOPG
Brian Gibson (6'8, 243, So.) 8.3 0.64 13.0 MPG, 4.5 PPG (77.8% FG), 5.3 RPG
Desmar Jackson (6'5, 175, So.) 8.0 0.31 25.3 MPG, 10.3 PPG (42% FG), 5.0 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.7 SPG, 2.7 TOPG
Adam Waddell (6'10, 235, Jr.) 7.7 0.37 21.0 MPG, 6.7 PPG (54.5% FG), 4.0 RPG
Afam Muojeke (6'8, 210, Jr.) 6.6 0.39 17.0 MPG, 8.0 PPG (43% 3PT), 2.3 RPG
Daylen Harrison (6'6, 217, So.) 6.3 0.46 13.7 MPG, 4.0 PPG (56.4% TS%), 2.3 RPG
Francisco Cruz (6'3, 217, Jr.) 5.0 0.20 25.8 MPG, 6.8 PPG (34.8% FG), 2.8 RPG, 2.3 APG, 2.3 TOPG
Amath M'Baye (6'9, 210, So.) 4.9 0.21 23.0 MPG, 8.0 PPG (48.4% FG), 4.5 RPG, 2.5 TOPG
Arthur Bouedo (6'4, 185, Jr.) 4.8 0.26 18.8 MPG, 5.0 PPG, 1.3 APG
Joe Hudson (6'1, 180, Fr.) -0.8 -0.07 12.0 MPG, 2.0 PPG, 1.7 RPG

* AdjGS = a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds.  It redistributes a team's points based not only on points scored, but also by giving credit for assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls.  It is a stat intended to determine who had the biggest overall impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.

  • Highest Usage%: D. Jackson (31%), Muojeke (26%), M'Baye (25%), Thiam (24%)
  • Highest Floor%: Gibson (57%), Waddell (47%), Thiam (45%), Luster (44%), Bouedo (44%)
  • Most Touches/Possession: Luster (3.4), Jackson (3.2), Cruz (2.7), Muojeke (2.3)
  • Highest %Pass: Luster (67%), Bouedo (61%), Cruz (59%)
  • Highest %Shoot: Hudson (87%), Gibson (55%), Muojeke (55%), M'Baye (54%)
  • Highest %Fouled: Gibson (39%), Waddell (27%), Thiam (21%), Harrison (21%)
  • Highest %TO: M'Baye (17%), Hudson (13%), Thiam (10%), Cruz (10%)

Djibril Thiam is a very interesting player -- you rarely see 6'10 small forwards on mid-major teams, but that's basically what he is -- for the Cowboys, as is semi-hefty backup Brian Gibson.  They and Adam Waddell all take high-percentage shots and get to the line a decent amount.  Their guards, on the other hand, are ... not a strength.  JayDee Luster is decent at the aspects of basketball that are not "shooting," but guards are indeed asked to shoot occasionally.  And Wyoming seemingly gets next to no contribution from two starters -- Francisco Cruz and Amath Bouedo.  Afam Muojeke is an interesting guy to watch as well -- he seems to be a solid outside shooter (on a team bereft of them) and a decent Laurence Bowers imitator.

Keys to the Game

  1. Smart Defense.  It really doesn't seem like Wyoming can hang in this game unless Mizzou shoots 25% and commits 35 fouls.  Keep them off the line, and you probably win the game.  Mizzou has the depth to get away with committing some fouls on the interior, but honestly I'm more worried about the perimeter.  If the refs are calling a tight game, it might behoove Missouri to not take too many chances -- they're not a great shooting and/or offensive rebounding team anyway, so letting them get a shot off might not be the end of the world, no?

  2. Don't Settle For Jumpers.  I could be completely wrong, but I do assume this is going to be a poor environment for long-range shooting.  Obviously you have to take the jumpers if they are wide open, but if Wyoming is playing tight interior defense like Western Illinois and North Florida did, Mizzou needs to at least be patient enough to know that the shot they are taking is the best one they're going to get.  Quick jumpers early in the shot clock could hurt the Tigers even worse in this game than normal.

  3. Do What You Do.  Quite simply, take advantage of your advantages. Force turnovers, keep Wyoming off the offensive glass, make smart decisions, win the game.  Wyoming might be a unique team, but Mizzou is still the better one.

Prediction

I'm going to predict something around a 72-possession pace.  This would create something like a likely 76-60 win for Mizzou.  If Wyoming is getting to the line, they could creep into the 70s.  If Mizzou is forcing turnovers and/or making open jumpers, they could creep well into the 80s.  Take care of business, and enjoy the weather.

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