Study Hall: Colorado

Your Trifecta: English-Ratliffe-PPressey. Your winner: nobody. benny12 came oh, so close, but ... alas.

First, some links:

Mizzou 89, Colorado 73

Mizzou
Opp.
Pace (No. of Possessions)
75.5
Points Per Minute
2.23 1.83
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.18 0.97
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.39 1.16
2-PT FG% 48.9% 41.7%
3-PT FG% 36.8% 40.0%
FT% 85.7% 75.0%
True Shooting % 58.3% 50.8%
Mizzou Opp.
Assists 14 10
Steals 15 4
Turnovers 13 23
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.23 0.61
Mizzou Opp.
Expected Offensive Rebounds 13 14
Offensive Rebounds 12 19
Difference -1 +5

So ... What Did We Learn?

I don't always agree with the Post-Dispatch's Bryan Burwell, but he pretty much nailed it with this comment in the column linked above:

The longer you watch the Missouri Tigers, the more impossible it gets to paint a complete picture of their true competitive personality. They seemingly are indestructible at home but fragile as expensive china on the road. The simple truth is, the 14th-ranked Tigers are a little more than a month away from the postseason and we still don't know if they're on their way to becoming another one of Anderson's squads that blossoms into championship contenders in the spring or merely a young and incomplete team that could only be a danger to itself once March Madness rolls around.

...

Missouri still is a team in search of an identity, still searching the right combination of player rotations, still waiting for the light to go on for so many of these inexperienced players who have not gone through nearly enough Big 12 road wars together, still hoping to find the attitude that it takes to survive inside all those rowdy and unfriendly buildings around the conference.

Now, the good part about being great at home and iffy on the road is ... you're great at home.  And Missouri was absolutely that last night.  I was impressed with Colorado's resilience and the way they never succumbed to the knockout blow Mizzou was attempting to land; but even with an offensive lapse in the early-middle portion of the second half, even with a lot of chippies rolling out, and even with Mizzou losing rebounding focus in the second half, Mizzou's constant pressure and outstanding ball handling made this an easy victory.

You know my stance by now; yes, Missouri is a worse team on the road, but I haven't been quite as worried about it as others.  I'm still comfortable with where this team will be in March, with or without a boatload of road wins, but Mizzou still needs a couple of road wins to make sure their tourney seed isn't terrible.  Whether or not they get them really comes down to one thing: whether or not players start stepping up and hitting the floor like Phil Pressey did late in the first half last night.  His strip, dive and dish to Mike Dixon for the lay-up lit the crowd on fire (the only way it would have been better: if it were Laurence Bowers on the break instead of Dixon); it is exactly the type of play that sucks the life out of an opposition crowd when Missouri is on the road, and it is exactly the type of play that Missouri has been lacking on the road.  They got it early on against Texas A&M, and when added to some huge 3's from Pressey in the second half of that game, they almost got the job done in College Station.  You don't have to be perfect to win on the road.  You just need intensity and identity.  Mizzou sometimes lacks in both away from Mizzou Arena.

Hello, Good Kimmeh

Extremely efficient shooting ... instinctive (don't think, just do) basketball ... drawing fouls and making freebies ... grabbing boards ... who was this No. 24 in a Mizzou uniform last night??  If this is what we can expect from a benched Kim English, then start Matt Pressey the rest of the year.  No matter what ... please don't tease us, Kimmeh.  Please don't turn around and lay a 1-for-8 egg in Lawrence.  When you're confident and passionate, and when you're not overthinking, you're a great player.  Let us see that guy more often.

Next Time Mizzou Shoots Poorly From the Free Throw Line...

...remember that doesn't mean they're a bad free throw shooting team.  They're also capable of going 24-for-28.  (That doesn't make their performance from the line in, say, College Station less frustrating -- it just refines the complaint.  Which is ... something, I guess.)

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Kim English 20.4 0.85 24 Min, 21 Pts (6-10 FG, 3-6 3PT, 6-6 FT), 6 Reb
Ricardo Ratliffe 18.8 0.61 31 Min, 14 Pts (6-7 FG, 2-2 FT), 9 Reb (3 Off), 2 Ast
Phil Pressey 17.8 0.58 31 Min, 13 Pts (3-7 FG, 1-3 3PT, 6-6 FT), 5 Stl, 3 Ast
Marcus Denmon 14.2 0.53 27 Min, 17 Pts (6-15 FG, 1-5 3PT, 4-6 FT), 4 Reb, 3 Stl
Mike Dixon 11.1 0.46 24 Min, 13 Pts (5-10 FG, 2-3 3PT, 1-2 FT), 4 Reb (2 Off), 3 Ast, 2 Stl, 3 TO
Laurence Bowers 6.4 0.36 18 Min, 6 Pts (2-7 FG, 2-2 FT), 3 Reb, 3 Stl, 3 Blk, 2 Ast, 3 TO
Steve Moore 3.0 0.30 10 Min, 2 Pts (2-2 FT)
Matt Pressey -0.2 -0.01 22 Min, 3 Pts (1-6 FG, 0-2 3PT, 1-2 FT)
Justin Safford -0.6 -0.10 6 Min, 0 Pts (0-2 FG), 2 Reb
Ricky Kreklow -2.8 -0.40 7 Min, 2 TO
  • I'm relatively confident in saying Missouri is going to win more often than not when Kim English averages over two points per field goal attempt.
  • For one reason or another, Ricardo Ratliffe became really passive on offense early in the first half. It looked like he was attempting to pad his assist totals by passing up a decent look and dishing to a guard who had a lesser look.  Aside from that odd lapse, however, Ratliffe was magnificent last night.  Despite just two free throw attempts, he also averaged two points per field goal attempt, and he threw in some decent rebounding (10% offensive rebounding rate, 20% defensive) to boot.
  • I can still only imagine what type of leader Phil Pressey is going to be in a couple of years.  This is not truly his team just yet ... but it was last night.  He seems to be learning to toe the line between "constant defensive pest" and "king of cheap, ticky tack fouls", and he drove the Buffs crazy last night.  Five steals is pretty ridiculous, and it led to a lovely 8.00 BCI.  He played great defense, got to the line on offense ... he was outstanding.
  • I commented to Bill Carter midway through the first half that Marcus Denmon seemed to be playing J.T. Tiller's offensive game.  He wasn't trusting his outside shot (and with good reason -- he went just 1-for-5 from long range and is just 4-for-17 in his last four games), so he attacked, attacked, attacked.  He didn't get all the rolls, but he made five of 10 2-pointers and got to the line for six freebies.  It allowed him to get to 17 points despite the lack of long-range effectiveness.  Now ... if Mizzou wants any chance of winning in Lawrence tomorrow night, he'll have to be attacking effectively AND making his 3's ... but the game he brought to the table yesterday was more than enough for Colorado, and it was diverse enough to prevent him from fading into the background when his 3's didn't fall.
  • Mike Dixon hasn't been playing his best recently either, but after Colorado cut Mizzou's lead to 10 with 11 minutes left, Dixon made two huge 3-pointers in 55 seconds to get Mizzou's lead back to a safe 16.  Pressey is starting to own this team in a lot of ways, but Dixon still very clearly has a role to play.  His three turnovers weren't wonderful, but he made up for it with the two key 3's and by filling every category of the box score (sans blocks).
  • Laurence Bowers still didn't look dialed in as much as we expect from him, but he was much more effective than he was in Stillwater.  (I haven't commented on the report that he was suffering from migraines during the OSU game yet, so I'll do it here.  As Gabe from PowerMizzou said a couple of days ago, I have no reason to assume Mike Anderson will ever act against the best interests of his players, so when I speak negatively in a second, I'm not doing so as some sort of indictment of Anderson's judgment or character.  That said ... I really don't think Bowers should have played in Stillwater, and it very much surprises me that he did.  It didn't lead to further injury as far as we know, so that's fine ... but it surprises me, is all.)
  • I don't actually remember either of Ricky Kreklow's turnovers. I left thinking he played alright, but he racked up another negative AdjGS score in conference play.  He is averaging -0.6 Adj/game at home in conference play and -0.9 on the road.  I'm not concerned about his future, but I expected a bit more of him in the present.
  • He's not a Missouri player, but I'll go ahead and throw this in here: Alec Burks has an NBA game.  He has nice handle, he's got a decent outside shot, he's long and athletic, and he's mastered the NBA continuation foul and NBA non-travel already as well.  Not that it matters to us, since Colorado is a Pac-12 team next year, but I think this is his last season in Boulder.
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Kim English 25% 53% 2.4 27% 45% 23% 5%
Ricardo Ratliffe 13% 71% 1.8 55% 33% 8% 4%
Phil Pressey 15% 47% 2.6 57% 23% 17% 3%
Marcus Denmon 29% 39% 2.5 23% 57% 20% 0%
Mike Dixon 26% 40% 3.5 55% 31% 5% 9%
Laurence Bowers 27% 28% 3.4 50% 30% 7% 13%
Steve Moore 8% 36% 0.7 0% 0% 63% 37%
Matt Pressey 16% 20% 1.7 40% 41% 12% 7%
Justin Safford 15% 16% 3.4 75% 25% 0% 0%
Ricky Kreklow 13% 0% 0.7 0% 0% 0% 100%
  • Three players over 50% Pass, none over 60%.  Odd.  I like seeing evidence of a "true" point guard on the floor (i.e. at least one guy in the 60%-80% Pass range), but in the absence of that, seeing this many people distributing the ball is just fine.
  • Hey look!  Mizzou drew a ton of fouls!  And at home, no less!  Who knew??

Three Keys Revisited

From Friday's preview.

The Glass

Mizzou's offensive rebounding rate at home: 35%; on the road: 31%.  Mizzou's defensive rebounding rate at home: 73%; on the road: 60%.  Mizzou's offensive and defensive rebounding rates during their trip to Boulder: 26% and 58%.  Pull down the home rebounds, and you'll probably win unless Alec Burks is even more ridiculous than he was the first time around.

Rebounding was just fine for Mizzou in the first half, but as Colorado tried desperately to get back into the game, they started piling up the second chances.  That resulted in a final defensive rebounding rate of just 51% for Mizzou, which is typically unacceptable.  The offensive rebounding (32%) was just fine, but obviously isn't encouraging seeing Missouri getting pummeled on the glass before the trip to Lawrence.

Punch/Counterpunch

Colorado beat Missouri last year by successfully playing the "Back Atcha" game that Missouri likes to play.  Mizzou loves to counterpunch after a team makes a big bucket or scores on a fast break, but CU was consistently able to counter the counter.  They played a reasonably high-tempo game with the Tigers and lived to tell about it.  That was due, primarily, to Alec Burks.  They'll need to do so again, only without a home crowd egging them on.

This game was played at Missouri's pace, and every time Colorado started to figure things out offensively, Mizzou counter-punched.  It was the typical "Mizzou pulls away at home" game, meaning the "Back Atcha" went in Mizzou's favor in a major way.

Kim English

Despite better supplementary stats (rebounds, assists, turnovers, etc.), English's overall contribution to the squad has decreased rather significantly this season.  While we can say that his point total has dropped because he's been ceding the "lead scorer" role to Marcus Denmon ... it's February, and Denmon needs help.

Hey hey, I nailed this one for once!  First time all year I put the spotlight on Kimmeh and he responded with vigor.  Now do it again.

Summary

Colorado played well enough to trip up a slumping Missouri team, but Mizzou had it going, even with little to no contribution from Laurence Bowers and Justin Safford.  Assuming a loss in Lawrence (we'll talk about that game tomorrow morning), the rest of Mizzou's season truly begnis next Saturday.  After Kansas, their next six games are as follows: Oklahoma, Texas Tech, at Iowa State, Baylor, at Kansas State, at Nebraska.  A hot Missouri team goes 6-0 in that stretch; an only decent Missouri team goes 4-2 or 3-3.  Hint, hint.  Now's the time to get hot, guys.

 

---

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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