Mizzou 68, VCU 65: Study Hall

Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE

Part I of Mizzou's 2012-13 season is complete.

Your Trifecta: Bowers-NWC-Bell.

From a 20,000-foot level, there are basically two ways to win games at the college level, almost no matter the sport: You either build a system or identity that is stronger, and more well-operated, than your opponents, or you build a team with enough strengths to take advantage of an opponent's weaknesses. Obviously that is incredibly broad, but after years (and plenty of wins) following the former path under Mike Anderson, yesterday's win over VCU proved what we basically already knew: Frank Haith is following the latter approach. Not quick enough at the point guard position? Phil Pressey will slice and dice you. Thin bench? Mizzou can throw a wave of substitutions at you -- Mizzou has basically gone nine deep this year, and that could stretch to 11 with Mike Dixon and Jabari Brown. Iffy perimeter defense? Mizzou has quite a few players who can get quite hot from the outside (if in streaky fashion). Weaknesses on the interior? Mizzou will kill you with offensive rebounds, post-ups, and apparently Keion Bell slashing from the corners. With Dixon and Brown will come more weapons, and minutes will be very much dictated by opponent. (Case in point: Ryan Rosburg and Stefan Jankovic combined to play three minutes last night after playing 18 against Stanford.)

Now, there are drawbacks to each of these approaches. When your entire identity is based in a "system," you don't necessarily have a Plan B if an opponent is well-prepared and built to defeat that system. And when you are built to take advantage of deficiencies, you don't really have anything to lean on if you encounter a team playing very well and without specific deficiency (like, say, Louisville). In the end, it always comes down to having the right players, and while this Mizzou team still has deficiencies to rectify and chemistry to build, it's clear this team has pieces and variety. Mizzou beat VCU last night by hunkering down, banging, and making some nice shots down the stretch. I'm glad I knew in advance who won when I finally got to watch this morning -- otherwise there would have been some serious stress in the final 2-3 minutes -- but stress doesn't change the fact that Mizzou is 5-1 ... and still undefeated against teams not ranked in the nation's Top 2. Just keep finding ways to win while you're figuring out all the new pieces.

Mizzou 68, VCU 65

Mizzou
VCU
Pace (No. of Possessions) 62.3
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.09 1.04
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.19 1.00
2-PT FG% 52.6% 48.7%
3-PT FG% 42.1% 30.8%
FT% 66.7% 50.0%
True Shooting % 57.0% 48.0%
Mizzou VCU
Assists 12 9
Steals 3 4
Turnovers 14 8
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.07 1.63
Mizzou VCU
Expected Offensive Rebounds 11 14
Offensive Rebounds 12 12
Difference +1 -2

BCI: Still A Good Metric

Mizzou at Battle 4 Atlantis (3 games): 38 assists, 14 steals, 47 turnovers, 1.11 BCI
Opponents at Battle 4 Atlantis: 35 assists, 23 steals, 36 turnovers, 1.61 BCI

Mizzou went 2-1 and certainly could have looked a lot worse ... but BCI is no longer the No. 1 determining factor in a Mizzou win. In fact, it's a hindrance. Times change, I guess.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Laurence Bowers 18.1 0.56 32 Min, 14 Pts (7-14 FG, 0-1 3PT), 11 Reb (4 Off), 2 Ast
Negus Webster-Chan 13.1 0.36 36 Min, 12 Pts (4-8 FG, 2-6 3PT, 2-2 FT), 5 Reb (2 Off)
Keion Bell 12.2 0.55 22 Min, 12 Pts (5-10 FG, 0-2 3PT, 2-2 FT), 4 Reb
Phil Pressey 11.1 0.28 40 Min, 11 Pts (4-9 FG, 3-5 3PT), 8 Ast, 2 Reb, 5 TO
Earnest Ross 8.2 0.37 22 Min, 11 Pts (4-7 FG, 3-5 3PT), 2 TO
Alex Oriakhi 3.8 0.13 29 Min, 6 Pts (3-7 FG), 6 Reb (3 Off), 2 TO, 3 PF
Tony Criswell 1.8 0.11 16 Min, 2 Pts (1-2 FG, 0-2 FT), 7 Reb (3 Off), 3 PF
Ryan Rosburg 0.0 0.00 2 Min
Stefan Jankovic -0.5 -0.55 1 Min, 1 PF
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Bowers 25% 46% 2.7 44% 52% 0% 4%
Webster-Chan 15% 45% 1.7 31% 42% 23% 5%
Bell 29% 45% 3.1 28% 47% 20% 5%
Pressey 19% 40% 5.0 77% 15% 0% 8%
Ross 22% 40% 1.3 0% 78% 0% 22%
Oriakhi 17% 30% 1.0 0% 78% 0% 22%
Criswell 13% 23% 1.5 0% 27% 59% 14%
  • Laurence Bowers didn't have much of a shooting touch last night (or against Louisville), but he also had probably his best rebounding game of the season and threw in a couple of assists. He passed more (or more effectively) than Keion Bell and NWC.
  • A Floor% of 40% or higher for each of your top five performers: a good sign that you probably won, even if by just three points.
  • The minutes distribution gives you a pretty good idea for who Frank Haith trusts to handle pressure defense right now. VCU didn't press for 40 minutes by any means, but they throw every defense in the world at you, and they do it with serious intensity. It probably isn't a coincidence, then, that Rosburg and Jankovic barely played. Tony Criswell, meanwhile, played just 16 minutes, but I was fascinated by the fact that he was on the court (and received the inbounds pass) in the final three seconds. I think Haith trusts him to make free throws at a much higher clip than his current 6-for-13 form (11-for-19 including exhibitions) suggests.

Summary

And Part I of Missouri's 2012-13 season is complete. You'd prefer an undefeated record, but considering the loss was to Louisville, and considering the games were all played without two members of what will probably be Mizzou's February rotation, I'll take it. Part II (the remaining six games of non-conference play, peaking with Illinois on Dec. 22 and UCLA on Dec. 28) begins next Saturday.

---

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.

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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