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It's a Nolan Richardson Reunion when Corliss Williamson's Central Arkansas Bears face Missouri tomorrow at Mizzou Arena. The stats show a UCA team that wants to reflect the Richardson recipe -- pressing and forcing turnovers -- but hasn't been able to do it very well. They are 1-7 against Division I teams, having propped up their resume with an 87-46 win over less-than-D1 Hendrix and a hilarious 100-29 win over something called Champion Baptist. They have been mostly competitive, losing by 10 to Oklahoma State and losing only one true blowout (101-61 to SMS), but the wins haven't come rolling in for Williamson just yet.
Central Arkansas: 3-7
|Pace (No. of Possessions)
|Points Per Minute
|Points Per Possession (PPP)
|Points Per Shot (PPS)
|True Shooting %||53.6%
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
|Expected Offensive Rebounds||12.7
Scottie Pippen's alma mater ranks just 128th in Pace this season, but it does appear that Williamson is trying to force the issue -- they ranked 271st in the same category last year. They have improved over last year in terms of forcing turnovers, but it has come at a cost -- they have one of the worst FG% defenses in the country. D1 opponents are shooting 56% on 2-pointers and 36% on 3-pointers.
The overall stats really don't look too bad, but remember, that includes the comical wins over Hendrix and Champion Baptist. Ken Pomeroy's stats do not.
Ken Pomeroy Stats
|UCA Offense vs MU Defense Ranks
|UCA Offense||MU Defense||Advantage|
|Off. Reb. %||298
|MU Offense vs UCA Defense Ranks
|MU Offense||UCA Defense||Advantage|
|Off. Reb. %||91
Where the Bears are weakest
Not to be glib, but ... just about everywhere. They rank below 300th in both overall offensive and defensive efficiency, they don't block shots (316th in Def. Block%), they aren't tall (280th in Effective Height), they don't rebound, they give up a ton of open shots, and they don't shoot particularly well inside the 3-point line. Again, they are 1-7 versus D1 teams.
Where they are best
First of all, they force turnovers. The Bears ranked 177th in Def. TO% last year; this year, they rank 43rd. Williamson is an intense guy just like his college coach, and his guys apparently do try to play intense basketball. They forced 18 turnovers against Oklahoma State, for instance, and OSU was never really able to pull away. However, OSU did still win because of 35% shooting by UCA, not to mention a devastating rebounding margin and 25 UCA fouls.
Beyond the turnovers, UCA also shoots the long ball pretty well. They rank 115th in Off. 3PT%, which is certainly worse than most of Mizzou's recent opponents but is still above average. They are also deep. Thanks to what appears to be a boatload of junior college transfers, they rank 24th in Bench Minutes and 43rd in Experience. Of UCA's 11 contributors, one is a freshman, one a sophomore, and nine are upperclassmen. They are not going to wear down against Mizzou, whether they are keeping up or not.
UCA's Season to Date
Wins (Team Rank is from KenPom.com)
vs No. 343 Chicago State, 85-73
Champion Baptist, 100-29
at No. 48 Oklahoma State, 57-69
at No. 49 Missouri State, 61-101
at No. 195 SMU, 72-76
at No. 246 Hawaii, 69-83
No. 288 UT-Martin, 64-73
No. 295 UMKC, 71-73
vs No. 335 Grambling, 60-70
Again, aside from the SMS game, they have been competitive in losses. So they've got that going for them.
UCA Player Stats
Imad Qahwash (6'2, 180, Sr.)
||11.1||0.58||19.3 MPG, 11.8 PPG (62.8% TS), 3.5 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 2.7 TOPG|
Chris Henson (6'8, 215, Jr.)
||10.5||0.47||22.8 MPG, 10.0 PPG (54.7% 2PT), 5.6 RPG, 1.1 APG, 1.5 TOPG|
Mark Rutledge (6'4, 180, Jr.)
||9.9||0.36||27.8 MPG, 9.4 PPG (42.5% FG), 3.9 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.9 TOPG|
Tadre Sheppard (6'6, 210, Sr.)
||9.4||0.36||26.3 MPG, 7.2 PPG (51.4% FG), 4.5 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 1.2 TOPG|
Carlos Dos Santos (6'8, 275, Sr.)
||8.9||0.36||24.4 MPG, 8.4 PPG (50.7% FG), 5.6 RPG, 1.3 TOPG|
Dewan Clayborn (5'11, 180, Jr.)
||7.7||0.32||24.3 MPG, 9.3 PPG (38.9% 3PT), 3.1 APG, 2.3 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 3.0 TOPG|
Mike Pouncy (6'2, 195, Sr.)
||7.3||0.35||20.8 MPG, 6.1 PPG (42.0% FG), 2.3 APG, 1.8 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 1.1 TOPG|
|Ryan Williams (6'4, 180, Fr.)
||3.9||0.16||23.7 MPG, 6.7 PPG (34.5% 3PT), 2.3 RPG, 1.8 APG, 2.0 TOPG|
T.K. Smith (6'3, 200, Jr.)
||3.4||0.26||13.0 MPG, 5.4 PPG (34.0% FG), 1.2 RPG|
Jacquan McClinton (6'3, 205, Sr.)
||2.8||0.38||7.4 MPG, 1.4 PPG, 1.9 RPG|
Jeff Jackson (5'10, 175, So.)
||0.9||0.08||11.0 MPG, 2.0 PPG|
* 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%: Qahwash (30%), Clayborn (23%), Smith (23%)
- Highest Floor%: Henson (41%), Pouncy (41%), Qahwash (39%), Rutledge (39%), Sheppard (39%0, Dos Santos (39%).
- Highest %Pass: Pouncy (63%), Clayborn (60%), Rutledge (56%)
- Highest %Shoot: Dos Santos (50%), Sheppard (48%), Smith (47%)
- Highest %Fouled: Qahwash (21%), Sheppard (18%), Dos Santos (16%).
- Highest %TO: Qahwash (13%), Clayborn (10%), Sheppard (10%), Williams (10%).
- Four of UCA's 11 contributors have played less than the full slate of 10 games, which results in some crazy minutes distributions. Eight players average at least 19 minutes per game, which is ... tough to accomplish. They have also distributed the scoring pretty well -- five players have made between 30 and 40 field goals so far, four more between 18 and 24. Who plays how many minutes against Missouri, and who leads the offense, is a complete mystery to me.
- What isn't a mystery is who has done the most with their minutes thus far. Imad Qahwash has yet to start a game despite the shuffling rosters, but he has proven to be a very good shooter who gets to the line a ton (and turns the ball over a lot), and he crashes the offensive glass pretty well for a guard.
- UCA has two players taller than 6'6 and both are likely to start. Chris Henson has solid range (10-for-24 on 3-pointers) and blocks out well (a 21% defensive rebounding rate), while Carlos Dos Santos is a 275-pound bull who doesn't roam the perimeter, doesn't block out amazingly well for his size (15% defensive rebounding) but cleans up on the offensive glass (11% offensive rebounding). If Mizzou struggles to clean up UCA's misses, Dos Santos will likely be the reason why.
- Six players -- Henson, Rutledge, Clayborn, Williams and Smith -- have all made at least 10 3-pointers this season. Like I said, their go-to scorer seems to change by the minute.
Keys to the Game
Show Up. Even though Ken Pomeroy is projecting a 34-point Mizzou win, the odds of Mizzou beating UCA by a ridiculous margin are slim -- if nothing else, Mike Anderson is going to go out of his way not to run up the score on a fellow member of the Richardson family tree. It's just not going to happen. But the hope is that Mizzou will put UCA out of reach pretty early, then coast. The Bears are not going to wear down, but if Mizzou is hitting the glass hard and takes care of the ball, then they shouldn't have much trouble building an early lead. If they don't, however, a sparse Mizzou Arena crowd might get a little restless.
Perimeter Defense. UCA has quite a few guys who can shoot the 3-pointer, and while their assist numbers are not amazing, they aren't terrible. They will likely be attempting to swing the ball around the perimeter for an open 3-ball as much as possible, and obviously that is at least a bit of a concern considering Mizzou's recent history. They've been fine in this regard against Presbyterian and Oral Roberts ... and now they need to be fine again against UCA.
Ricardo Ratliffe. He's slowed up on the glass a bit the last few games, and with Illinois coming up, that is not a welcome trend. If he is the glass-eater he was earlier this month, he could have 10 rebounds in the first half. Plus, on offense, he should be too powerful for Chris Henson and too quick for Carlos Dos Santos. He should have a big game.
It appears Central Arkansas has tried and failed to push the pace against decent opponents this year. Needless to say, they won't have that problem against a Mizzou team that loves nothing more than to run their visiting opponent right out of the Mizzou Arena doors. I expect a high pace in this one -- somewhere around 74-80 possessions -- at least until the game gets out of hand. At that pace, Mizzou will roll; I say Mizzou's lead grows to 30+ before they ease up against Corliss Williamson and the Bears. The final: Mizzou 85, Central Arkansas 59.