Study Hall: Mizzou 81, Mercer 63

Your Trifecta: PPressey-English-Denmon. Your winner: Nobody. We're already in mid-season form!

So basically, Mizzou has played two phenomenal halves of basketball and two ... less than phenomenal halves.

Versus SEMO (2nd Half) and Mercer (1st Half): Mizzou 85, Opponents 56
Versus SEMO (1st Half) and Mercer (2nd Half): Mizzou 79, Opponents 75

The glimpses of greatness are reason enough to be excited about this team. The defensive intensity they showed in the first half last night was as good as anything we saw under Mike Anderson, only it was focused on the half-court instead of the full-court. And Flip Pressey's dive-steal-and-pass-to-brother-Matt play was everything that excited people about the Fastest 40 Minutes. Granted, the intensity also translated into some careless, rushed offense, but in a way that is to be expected this early in the season. Pressey in particular is still trying to balance the good and the bad; the same traits that lead to his greatest moments, lead to his worst ones, and he is still figuring out how to harness that. Still, the first half was an enormous net positive.

The second half, on the other hand, was a hangover. The intensity seemed to be replaced by dead legs. With a coach (Bob Hoffman) who was getting his money's worth -- seriously, I now know what it would be like to play against a basketball team coached by Tony La Russa (tinker, tinker, tinker, tinker) -- Mercer capitalized on Mizzou's wayward ways and briefly climbed back into the game, but the bottom line is that Mizzou has beaten two lesser teams by at least 15 points each. You'd prefer 30 each, but 15 is better than, you know, two.

Mizzou 81, Mercer 63


Mizzou
Mercer
Pace (No. of Possessions)
67.1
Points Per Minute
2.03
1.58
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.21
0.94
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.50
1.21
2-PT FG% 43.8%
46.9%
3-PT FG% 50.0%
40.0%
FT% 69.0%
75.0%
True Shooting % 60.7%
55.0%




Mizzou Mercer
Assists 12
16
Steals 14
9
Turnovers 13
20
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.00
1.25




Mizzou Mercer
Expected Offensive Rebounds 12
11
Offensive Rebounds 13
9
Difference +1
-2

Rebound!

The one perceived advantage Mercer had coming into the game was on the glass. Mercer is a big team, bigger than most Mizzou will play this year, actually, and it was nice to see Mizzou rebounding in dedicated, team fashion. In terms of expected rebounds, they were plus-3, and I think any of us would have taken that before the game.

Frank Haith, Game Manager

There was only one play that made me happier than Flip Pressey's steal-and-assist: the timeout Frank Haith called with 14:22 remaining in the game. (Okay, that wasn't really a "play," but you know what I mean.) With his substitution patterns, timeouts, tactics, etc., I have liked what I have seen out of Frank Haith so far, in terms of game-coaching ability. Mizzou was leading by 20, but they were getting incredibly careless with the ball, and he called a timeout (while Mizzou was in the middle of a possession) to light into his team. Granted, it didn't really work -- they almost immediately committed another two turnovers -- but I like the intention. And this early in the season, it is about tactics and intentions as much as actual execution. (The need for execution, however, will come in a hurry.)

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Phil Pressey
23.0
0.68
34 Min, 22 Pts (6-11 FG, 3-6 3PT, 7-8 FT), 5 Stl, 4 Ast, 3 Reb, 4 TO
Kim English
15.8
0.48
33 Min, 18 Pts (5-8 FG, 4-6 3PT, 4-6 FT), 3 Reb, 2 TO
Marcus Denmon
14.3
0.46
31 Min, 12 Pts (4-8 FG, 2-4 3PT, 2-2 FT), 5 Reb (2 Off), 3 Ast, 2 Stl
Mike Dixon
10.2
0.41
25 Min, 14 Pts (4-12 FG, 2-5 3PT, 4-4 FT), 4 Reb, 2 Stl
Matt Pressey
5.7
0.20
28 Min, 6 Pts (2-6 FG, 0-1 3PT, 2-6 FT), 3 Reb, 3 Ast
Steve Moore
5.2
0.58
9 Min, 2 Pts (1-1 FG), 4 Reb (2 Off), 2 Blk
Kadeem Green
3.6
0.33
11 Min, 4 Pts (2-2 FG), 4 Reb, 2 TO
Ricardo Ratliffe
2.3
0.08
29 Min, 3 Pts (1-6 FG, 1-2 FT), 7 Reb (4 Off), 3 Stl, 3 TO
  • Kim English: 9-for-15 on 3-pointers through two games. Obviously that won't last, but after some iffy exhibition play, it is nice to see that Good Kimmeh still exists and is ready to play a key role. He also had the biggest shot of the night as a bonus. Mercer had gone on a 14-2 run to cut Mizzou's lead to 10 nearing the five-minute mark when English calmly knocked down a corner-3, kick-starting a small 7-1 run that put the game away.
  • Phil Pressey took a couple of rushed shots and turned the ball over four times ... and still ended up with a 2.3 BCI and 2.0 points per shot. His ceiling is so incredibly high that you're forced to overlook the random brainfarts.
  • Um, not Ricardo Ratliffe's best game. He did well on the defensive end, limiting the damage done by a Mercer team with a clearly-defined size advantage (his three steals in particular were quite deft), but he apparently had nothing left to give on the offensive end. His shots were rushed, and ... well, he didn't get many shots off either.
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
P. Pressey
27%
45%
4.0
52%
24%
15%
9%
English
19%
47%
1.9
28%
38%
24%
10%
Denmon
16%
49%
2.7
62%
28%
6%
4%
Dixon
30%
33%
2.0
0%
74%
20%
6%
M. Pressey
15%
37%
3.1
62%
21%
17%
0%
Moore
8%
76%
2.6
76%
13%
11%
0%
Green
18%
45%
1.1
0%
50%
0%
50%
Ratliffe
17%
13%
1.1
0%
56%
16%
28%

Let's revisit the checklist I created yesterday:

Marcus Denmon's Usage% needs to be 23% or higher. (No.)
Kim English's %T/O needs to be at 10% or lower. (Yes!)
Kim English's Floor% should be at 35% or higher. (Yes!)
Ricardo Ratliffe's %Fouled should be at least 10%. (Yes!)
Phil Pressey's Touches/Possession need to be 3.5 or better. (Yes!)
Mike Dixon's %Pass should be 55% or higher. (Noooooo.)
Steve Moore's Touches/Possession should be at least 1.0. (Yes!)

Despite Marcus Denmon disappearing and Mike Dixon going into full-on shooting guard mode, Mizzou's personality was still mostly what it needed to be. And I guess Dixon is allowed to forgo any semblance of point guard mentality when Flip Pressey is doing what he was doing last night.

Summary

Winner, winner. Things got sloppy in the second half, but in the end, Mizzou's lead never fell to single digits, the rebounding was consistently solid, and other than Mercer's Jibri Bryan getting hot (5-for-6 on 3-pointers), the defense left little about which to complain. An offense so impacted by Phil Pressey's personality is going to be consistently taking a step backwards for every step forward, but the ceiling is high, Kim English has raised his game, and Mizzou's lack of size has yet to cost them to any significant degree.

Next up: a fast-paced Niagara team on Thursday. Then, it's off to Kansas City next week for the CBE Classic.

 

---

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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