Mizzou after 9 games: Study Hall

USA TODAY Sports

The Tigers have thus far taken a step backwards compared to last year, but ... of COURSE they have.

Your Season-To-Date Trifecta: Bowers-Pressey-Oriakhi

First, A Warning:

It is very, very easy to get excited about what Jabari Brown might add to this roster when he debuts Monday night. He was a five-star recruit, he has received effusive praise from his coach and teammates over the past year -- for his scoring ability, his shooting, his physical characteristics, et cetera -- but on the court he has proven nothing as of yet. Including exhibitions last year at Oregon, he scored 9.5 points per game on 29 percent shooting and 4.8 turnovers per game. In five games in Europe this late-summer, he scored 10.7 points on 38 percent shooting with 1.6 assists to 2.0 turnovers.

In nine total games in a college uniform (two Oregon exhibitions, two Oregon games, five Mizzou games in Europe), Brown has made five of 27 3-pointers with 14 assists and 28 turnovers. You don't receive this amount of hype without showing some serious skill, and for all we know he has been incredible in practice recently. But he will quite possibly need some time to find his comfort level, and expecting Paul O'Liney or Albert White out of the gates might be both unfair and unrealistic. Be excited about him, but tap the brakes a bit. Focus the excitement on what he, and Mizzou, might be in February.

There. Now that we've gotten that Bob-the-Bummer bit out of the way, let's take a look at where Mizzou stands, statistically, after nine games.

Mizzou (After 9 Games)

Mizzou
Opp.
Pace (No. of Possessions) 67.4
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.11 0.91
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.24 1.02
2-PT FG% 47.7% 38.9%
3-PT FG% 35.1% 32.6%
FT% 71.4% 67.2%
True Shooting % 53.5% 45.8%
Mizzou Opp.
Assists 13.9 10.1
Steals 6.6 6.2
Turnovers 13.8 12.3
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.48 1.32
Mizzou Opp.
Expected Offensive Rebounds/gm 12.1 13.6
Offensive Rebounds/gm 16.1 11.6
Difference +4.0 -2.0

This Year Versus Last Year

As a frame of reference, here are some of this year's numbers compared to last year's after nine games. This year's schedule has been a bit more difficult at this point, but not incredibly so.

  • Pace. This year: 67.4 | Last year: 67.5
  • Points Per Possession (Offense). This year: 1.11 | Last year: 1.27
  • Points Per Possession (Defense). This year: 0.91 | Last year: 0.89
  • True Shooting Percentage (Offense). This year: 53.5% | Last year: 63.0%.
    2-point shooting (Offense). This year: 47.7% | Last year: 56.0%.
    3-point shooting (Offense). This year: 35.1% | Last year: 42.2%.
    3-point attempts per game (Offense). This year: 17.1 | Last year: 21.3.
    Free Throw Shooting (Offense). This year: 71.4% | Last Year: 76.9%.
  • True Shooting Percentage (Defense). This year: 45.8% | Last year: 48.6%.
    2-point shooting (Defense). This year: 38.9% | Last year: 44.0%.
    3-point shooting (Defense). This year: 32.6% | Last year: 31.8%.
    3-point attempts per game (Defense). This year: 21.4 | Last year: 19.2.
  • BCI (Mizzou). This year: 1.48 | Last year: 2.73.
    BCI (Opponent). This year: 1.32 | Last year: 1.00
  • Expected Rebounds (Offense). This year: +4.0 per game | Last year: +0.0.
    Expected Rebounds (Defense). This year: +2.0 per game | Last year: +1.9.

So it appears that this year's team hasn't matched last year's start. This is predictable for three different reasons:

1. The schedule has been at least a hair more difficult. Among this year's first nine opponents include (in Ken Pomeroy's rankings) No. 3 Louisville, No. 17 VCU and No. 40 Stanford. Last year, they had faced eventual No. 28 California, No. 39 Notre Dame and No. 78 Villanova. (In both cases, the other six games were mostly cake, though last year's second opponent, Mercer, ended up coming in at No. 91.)

2. You don't replace this much production without a drop-off. With Mike Dixon now out of the picture, that means that six of last year's seven rotation players are gone. I'd like to know if there has ever been an elite team that lost that much of its rotation and didn't regress, at least at the start of the next season.

3. Last year's team was really, really good. It bears mentioning. Even if Mizzou weren't forced to replace six-sevenths of its rotation, it is always going to be difficult to duplicate a Top 10 performance. We can talk (correctly) about this team's ceiling all we want, but a team doesn't always reach its ceiling. Until the NCAA Tournament, last year's team did. Because of the defensive potential and depth, this team's ceiling might be even higher than last year's, but there's no guarantee that the pieces ever come together just right. Though on the bright side, I guess, it won't be difficult to exceed last year's NCAA Tournament performance. So there's that.

Wait ... did Mizzou even play in last year's tournament? I don't quite remember.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Laurence Bowers 17.2 0.63 27.4 MPG, 16.9 PPG (58% 2PT, 58% 3PT, 62% FT), 6.9 RPG, 1.2 BPG, 1.1 APG, 1.6 TOPG, 2.3 PFPG
Phil Pressey 12.6 0.37 34.0 MPG, 13.0 PPG (37% 2PT, 38% 3PT, 77% FT), 5.8 APG, 3.3 RPG, 1.9 SPG, 3.3 TOPG
Alex Oriakhi 12.1 0.48 25.1 MPG, 10.8 PPG (49% 2PT, 69% FT), 8.3 RPG, 1.3 BPG, 1.4 TOPG
Keion Bell 9.5 0.42 22.7 MPG, 8.9 PPG (50% 2PT, 25% 3PT, 96% FT), 4.8 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.3 SPG, 2.0 TOPG
Earnest Ross 7.4 0.29 25.9 MPG, 9.1 PPG (43% 2PT, 30% 3PT, 68% FT), 5.6 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.9 TOPG, 2.2 PFPG
Tony Criswell 5.0 0.29 17.4 MPG, 5.7 PPG (50% 2PT, 25% 3PT, 43% FT), 4.7 RPG, 1.0 TOPG
Negus Webster-Chan 4.8 0.16 29.6 MPG, 5.7 PPG (33% 3PT, 30% 3PT, 69% FT), 4.4 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.2 TOPG
Stefan Jankovic 4.0 0.40 10.0 MPG, 3.8 PPG (36% 2PT, 33% 3PT, 91% FT), 2.3 RPG, 2.5 PFPG
Ryan Rosburg 1.8 0.24 7.3 MPG, 1.6 PPG (43% 2PT, 33% FT), 1.8 RPG
Dominique Bull 0.0 0.00 1.0 MPG, 0.0 PPG
Corey Haith -0.1 -0.13 1.0 MPG, 0.0 PPG
Danny Feldmann -0.3 -0.20 1.8 MPG, 0.5 PPG, 0.8 RPG
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Bowers 26% 48% 2.4 29% 55% 9% 7%
Pressey 22% 38% 4.5 66% 21% 7% 6%
Oriakhi 21% 40% 1.8 13% 48% 30% 9%
Bell 20% 40% 3.0 52% 28% 11% 9%
Ross 21% 33% 2.3 39% 40% 12% 9%
Criswell 19% 37% 2.1 38% 42% 11% 9%
NWC 12% 30% 1.6 49% 35% 8% 8%
Jankovic 18% 40% 2.8 54% 30% 13% 3%
Rosburg 13% 39% 2.0 54% 32% 12% 2%
  • I mean ... I assumed Laurence Bowers would do well this year. I did. But ... I didn't expect this. It'll be interesting to see how much of a load he is capable of carrying as the competition picks up (and, in theory, Jabari Brown takes a little while to get established), but he has just been magnificent so far this year.
  • As we've already discussed, Phil Pressey needs one more semi-consistent scoring threat to be effective. As it stands now, he's had to force the issue with his own shooting a little more than we would prefer, and his turnovers are a little higher than we'd like. But part of that is also simply familiarity. Again, every single teammate from last year's team is gone. It's like he transferred to a new team. Not worried about him just yet (though I'd love it if he shot a little better).
  • This is about the best I expected out of Alex Oriakhi. I knew he had more offensive potential than he got to show last year, but I still wasn't sure whether to expect an 11 & 8 out of him, or something more like a 7 & 6. That he and Bowers are combining to block 2.5 shots per game is a lovely bonus.
  • In his first year as a Missouri Tiger, Julian Winfield averaged four points, three rebounds, two assists and a steal in 18 minutes per game. Jimmy McKinney averaged nine points, four rebounds, three assists and a steal. It's a shame that we only get him for one year, obviously, but Keion Bell is outplaying both of them so far. We'll see what happens, of course, as he gets more comfortable (good) and the competition picks up again (bad). He only averaged 6.7 points per game in the Bahamas.
  • Wherever the Earnest Ross from exhibition season went, I'd love to find him. He's fallen into a pretty deep funk of late.
  • He's not making his 3-pointers or free throws, but Tony Criswell is still carving out a role as an occasional offensive booster shot. I'd love it if he made a few more of his uncontested shots, though.
  • Freshman Year %'s
    Marcus Denmon (2008-09): 54% Pass, 35% Shoot, 6% Fouled, 6% TO
    Negus Webster-Chan: 49% Pass, 35% Shoot, 8% Fouled, 8% TO

    Denmon also shot just 30% on 3-pointers in his freshman season. Denmon figured out more ways to contribute in his freshman year -- he tossed in 1.4 assists and 0.9 steals in just 16.7 minutes per game (NWC: 1.3 and 0.8 in 29.6 minutes), and his Floor % was a healthier 36% (NWC's: 30%). But from a styles perspective ... I'm telling you, there's a lot of Denmon in NWC. Hopefully he has the same upside.
  • If Stefan Jankovic ever develops better control of his body and game, he could be really fun in the coming seasons. Well, he's already fun, but he's not trustworthy yet.
  • Aside from the hairline, I just don't see it. Ryan Rosburg and I just don't look the same.
  • I'm still curious why Dominique Bull didn't end up redshirting.

Summary

Basically, Missouri is a good team that surges in the second halves of games and has the depth and versatility to adapt to different styles and overcome offensive funks. That's good. This team isn't last year's, and unless Jabari Brown can very quickly plug the Mike Dixon-shaped hole in the lineup, it might never reach that status. But it's a good team. Considering what was lost from last year's squad, and considering the uncertainty regarding an injury like the one Laurence Bowers suffered last year, that's probably enough. And again ... it is certainly fun to think about what this team might resemble when the players on the court actually know each other a bit better.

---

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 a big, goofy center, 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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