Study Hall: Central Arkansas

For a game in which six players were excellent and two others solid, it is almost disappointing that the Trifecta was such a standard one: Bowers-Denmon-English.  But it did produce a winner: stlcardinalsfang.  That's three of 11 games with winners this season.  Congrats, fang.

First, a few links.  Call this two posts in one.

Mizzou 116, Central Arkansas 63

Mizzou
UCA
Pace (No. of Possessions)
77.8
Points Per Minute
2.90 1.58
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.49 0.81
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.71 0.95
2-PT FG% 76.2% 36.6%
3-PT FG% 50.0% 24.0%
FT% 81.3% 62.5%
True Shooting % 77.3% 41.1%
Mizzou UCA
Assists 33 9
Steals 15 6
Turnovers 14 24
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
3.43 0.63
Mizzou UCA
Expected Offensive Rebounds 8 17
Offensive Rebounds 10 22
Difference +2 +5

The Definition of a Stat-Padder

How much of a difference can one magnificent offensive game (against overwhelmed competition) make in the overall season stats?  Before the game, Mizzou was averaging a solid 1.13 points per possession for the season; after the game: 1.17.  They were averaging 1.27 points per shot, and now it's 1.31.  From 16.9 assists per game to 18.4, 9.9 steals per game to 10.4.  Their BCI went from 1.99 to 2.12.  Their 2PT FG% went from 50.0% to 52.2%, 3PT FG% from 37.6% to 39.0%.  Even their blocks per game rose a decent margin, from 5.1 to 5.5.  Obviously these numbers will sink a bit when the real competition starts again, but just about every team pads their stats with a game or two like this throughout the season (just ask Central Arkansas, whose stats were inflated just a hair by their 100-29 win over Champion Baptist) ... and saying Mizzou padded their stats last night is an insult to understatements.

I'll Go Out on a Limb...

...and say that Mizzou will not lose games in which their BCI is over 5x better than their opponents.  Call me crazy, but I think that's a pretty safe bet.

Via Unofficial Mizzou Statistician Tom Orf...

...Mizzou has had two players with 7+ assists in the same game six times since 1992:

  • vs Southern (2001-02): Wesley Stokes 11, Rickey Paulding 7
  • vs Grambling (2001-02): Wesley Stokes 7, Clarence Gilbert 7
  • vs Texas A&M (2002-03): Ricky Clemons 7, Jimmy McKinney 7
  • vs UNLV (2003-04): Rickey Pauling 9, Jason Conley 7
  • vs Oklahoma (2004-05): Jason Horton 10, Jason Conley 7

Only twice did one of the two players reach double-digits, and never did two players reach double-digits.  Needless to say, that makes what Phil Pressey (11 assists) and Kim English (10) did last night mighty impressive, even if it did come against a cupcake.

One complaint:

Mizzou is moving the wrong direction on the glass.  Maybe it's just an intensity thing -- in games versus "real" competition, Mizzou is +0.5/game in terms of expected rebounds.  But in the last two games, opponents are +5.5/game in terms of expected offensive rebounds.  Mizzou is shooting well, defending well, controlling the ball well ... and completely losing focus on the glass.  Laurence Bowers did not grab a single defensive rebound last night, and Ricardo Ratliffe's 15% defensive rebounding rate has been a notch below his season rate of 21%.  In fact, he's only hit 20% on the defensive glass once in his last six games.  Illinois is not an amazing offensive rebounding team -- they rank just 124th in OR% -- but 124th is good enough to do some damage if Mizzou's not focused; Central Arkansas ranks just 241st, and they did too much damage.

Again, it was probably hard to stay focused in a game that was basically a first-round knockout, but it is a bit of a red flag until Mizzou proves otherwise.

Perhaps Most Importantly...

...we may have come up with a decent, organically-grown nickname for Ricky Kreklow last night.  It even rhymes with GOOOOOSE!

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Laurence Bowers 21.2 0.88 24 Min, 20 Pts (8-9 FG, 4-5 FT), 4 Blk, 3 Reb (3 Off), 3 Ast
Marcus Denmon 19.2 0.74 26 Min, 21 Pts (8-15 FG, 3-8 3PT, 2-2 FT), 6 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 Stl
Kim English 17.3 0.60 29 Min, 14 Pts (5-9 FG, 4-7 3PT), 10 Ast, 3 Reb, 2 Stl, 2 Blk, 2 TO
Phil Pressey 16.9 0.53 32 Min, 15 Pts (6-8 FG, 2-3 3PT), 11 Ast, 3 Reb, 2 Stl, 5 TO
Ricardo Ratliffe 16.5 0.72 23 Min, 18 Pts (8-10 FG, 2-2 FT), 6 Reb (2 Off), 2 Ast, 2 Blk, 2 TO
Ricky Kreklow 10.3 0.51 20 Min, 11 Pts (4-4 FG, 3-3 3PT), 4 Reb, 3 Stl, 2 Ast, 3 TO
Justin Safford 7.8 0.34 23 Min, 11 Pts, 4-9 FG, 3-3 FT, 2 Reb, 2 Stl
Jarrett Sutton 4.3 0.39 11 Min, 4 Pts (1-2 3PT, 1-2 FT), 3 Reb
Steve Moore 1.3 0.11 12 Min, 2 Pts (1-2 FG), 2 Reb, 5 PF

I'll go out on another limb and say that anytime Mizzou has six players averaging over 0.50 AdjGS/min, they are going to win.  It was a lovely overall performance that produced seven players in double-figures according to real points, six according to AdjGS points.

  • That's the Laurence Bowers we've come to know and love: near-perfect from the field, a couple of acrobatic dunks, solid offensive rebounding, passing and shot-blocking.  Of course, we also got the defensive rebounding deficiency that Bowers occasionally brings to the table, too, but all in all, a great game from Party Starter.
  • If Kim English plays this relaxed and efficient the rest of the season, Mizzou's ceiling just got a lot higher.  He went 5-for-9 from the field, 4-for-7 from long range, and had 10 assists to just two turnovers.  He was one of many players asked to play more minutes due to Matt Pressey's absence (for those who haven't heard, Big Pressey was held out because he was apparently "still a bit woozy" from that elbow to the face that he took against Oral Roberts), and he was in control the whole game.  Obviously the competition gets ramped up in St. Louis in a few more days, but in terms of relaxed efficiency, this was not even Good Kimmeh ... this was Great Kimmeh.  He always has had a good sense of the moment, so hopefully this is a sign of things to come in Wednesday's Braggin' Rights game.
  • Phil Pressey was a bit too rambunctious in the alley-oops department last night, at least early on.  At least two, maybe three of his turnovers came on attempted alley-oop passes that were at least two feet too high.  If you're lobbing two feet too high for Laurence Bowers, you're a bit out of control.  That said, Pressey just got better and better as the game wore on, and he once again showed great balance -- good shooting and passing.  When you can produce a 2.60 BCI despite five turnovers, you know you were doing something right.
  • Ricardo Ratliffe had the quietest 18-point, 8-for-10 shooting night you'll ever see.  They said he had 18 points, and I'd have guessed about eight.  When he is not taking no-look shots while posting up, he is so very smooth around the basket.  He has great body control and touch; it allows him to make a ton of easy shots look, well, easy.  You know as well as I do that Mizzou missed something like that last year.  If he can continue to develop his post moves, he will just get better and better.  And considering he's averaging 12 & 8 right now, "better and better" is a little scary.
  • Ricky Kreklow still turns the ball over too damn much.  That said, you can see him getting more relaxed within the flow of the game.  And man oh man, every time a shot leaves his hands, I expect it to go in.  It is all sorts of pretty.
  • In the past two games, Steve Moore has committed nine fouls in 18 minutes.  To say the least, it has affected his ability to stay on the court.  And considering he has the second-best defensive rebounding rate on the squad, it is also negatively affecting Mizzou's overall defensive rebounding.
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Laurence Bowers 23% 69% 3.5 54% 28% 15% 3%
Marcus Denmon 27% 51% 3.4 51% 43% 6% 0%
Kim English 17% 56% 6.1 84% 13% 0% 3%
Phil Pressey 19% 55% 6.3 82% 10% 1% 7%
Ricardo Ratliffle 25% 61% 2.9 46% 39% 8% 7%
Ricky Kreklow 17% 52% 2.5 60% 20% 5% 15%
Justin Safford 22% 40% 2.1 31% 48% 16% 5%
Jarrett Sutton 12% 41% 0.9 0% 50% 50% 0%
Steve Moore 7% 53% 1.7 75% 25% 0% 0%
  • So for all intents and purposes, Phil Pressey's backup from a point-guard perspective was ... Kim English.
  • Kreklow aside, Mizzou handled UCA's modicum of pressure with no problem whatsoever.  Yes, Pressey had five turnovers, but with as much as he touched the ball, that is somewhat forgivable.  For the season, only Justin Safford and Ricky Kreklow have %TO's over 8.5%.

Three Keys Revisited

From Friday night's preview.

Show Up

Three minutes into the game, it was 15-2 Mizzou.  They showed up.

Perimeter Defense

UCA caught fire from long-range late in the game, making six of their last 15 while, among other things, Jarrett Sutton was on the court.  But they also went 0-for-10 in the first half while Mizzou was building their ridiculous lead.  The law of averages is catching up to Mizzou opponents a bit -- teams are missing easier 3's than they were making a few weeks ago -- but Mizzou's intensity in halfcourt defense has improved significantly.  Good thing, as Illinois is one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country.

Ricardo Ratliffe

The subject of a solid Post-Dispatch profile had, as I mentioned above, one of the quietest 18 & 6 games imaginable last night.  I do want to see Ratliffe pick up the pace on the glass a bit more (though not as much as I want to see Bowers do the same), but he was great last night, and UCA's bigs (relatively speaking) could not handle him.

Summary

In just two games, Mizzou has managed to rise from 40th to 30th in Ken Pomeroy's rankings.  Even counting the near-collapse against Oregon, the Tigers have played infinitely better in the last six games than they did in the first five.  And again, they are one fluke sequence (English saves the ball, Georgetown makes a 3) away from being undefeated.  10-1?  Good.  Improving by leaps and bounds?  Gooooooood.

Really, the only issues right now are lapses on the glass and ... well, depth.  Mizzou should be ten-deep again against Illinois, with Matt Pressey returning and (I'm going to assume) Mike Dixon doing the same.  If the improvement continues while the depth fills out a bit, this team could be exactly where we hoped it would be pretty soon.

 

---

AdjGS: a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds.  It takes points, assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls into account to determine an individual's "score" for a given game.  The "adjustment" in Adjusted Game Score is simply matching the total game scores to the total points scored in the game, thereby redistributing the game's points scored to those who had the biggest impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.

Usage%: This "estimates the % of team possessions a player consumes while on the floor" (via).  The usage of those possessions is determined via a formula using field goal and free throw attempts, offensive rebounds, assists and turnovers.  The higher the number, the more prevalent a player is (good or bad) in a team's offensive outcome.  As you would expect, someone like Kim English has a high Usage%, while Steve Moore has an extremely low one.

Floor%: Via Basketball-Reference.com: Floor % answers the question, "when Player X uses a possession, what is the probability that his team scores at least 1 point?".  The higher the Floor%, the more frequently the team probably scores when the given player is involved.

Touches/Possession: Using field goal attempts, free throw attempts, assists and turnovers, Touches attempt to estimate "the number of times a player touched the ball in an attacking position on the floor."  Take the estimated touches and divide it by the estimated number of possessions for which a player was on the court, and you get a rough idea of how many times a player touched the ball in a given possession.  For point guards, you'll see the number in the 3-4 range.  For shooting guards and wings, 2-3.  For Steve Moore, 1.30.  You get the idea.

Anyway, using the Touches figure, we can estimate the percentage of time a player "in an attacking position" passes, shoots, turns the ball over, or gets fouled.

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