Mizzou 102, S.C. State 51: Study Hall

Jamie Squire

Yes, S.C. State is bad. But a) so are SIUE, Alcorn State and Nicholls State, and MU only beat those teams by an average of 24, b) S.C. State did only lose to Maryland by 15, and c) Mizzou's (opponent-adjusted) KenPom ranking rose from 32nd last night to 22nd this morning. Oh yeah, and d) that was a lot of fun. It points to the ridiculousness of the RPI that simply playing this game hurt Missouri when the Tigers looked better than they had all season, regardless of opponent. You don't want to play TOO many of these games, but (and here comes a years-old rant of mine) you shouldn't be judged by the quality of your cupcakes. You are scheduling sure wins. Every team does it. If a sure win is ranked 250th instead of 350th, it's still intended to be a sure win.

Your Trifecta: Ross-NWC-Oriakhi. The era of completely unpredictable trifectas is once again upon us.

I love Stefan Jankovic as a starter.

I hadn't really thought of it until last night, but I really, really hope that Frank Haith continues to start Jank. Even if his minutes don't really change all that much, it serves the flow of the game very, very well for Missouri, not unlike Matt Pressey starting and Mike Dixon coming off of the bench last year.

With a Pressey-Bell-Jankovic-Bowers-Oriakhi starting lineup, you've got a few different things going for you.

1. That is a perfectly balanced starting lineup. You've got the point guard (Pressey), the defensive stopper (Bell), the primary scorer (Bowers), the big man (Oriakhi), and the completely unpredictable crazy-guy-in-the-fight type (Jankovic). Teams have to prepare for Pressey and Bowers, and they have to account for Oriakhi, and they won't be able to account for Good Stefan. As for Bad Stefan ... who will still make plenty of appearances this season ...

2. ...If the crazy guy in the fight gets too crazy, you can take him out. You don't have to rely on him at all. But if he's on, you are in position to completely maximize his minutes. You don't have to wait until midway through the first half (or, in the case of the Tennessee State game, early in the second half) to find out if he's Good Stefan. And when Good Stefan is in the lineup, Phil Pressey has a hell of a second scoring option. (That's pretty much all Jank is going to give you at this point, but it is certainly something the team needs.)

3. Wow, the second string. With those five starting, here's your second five: Negus Webster-Chan, Jabari Brown, Earnest Ross, Tony Criswell and Ryan Rosburg. In that lineup, you've got energy, size, options, size, strength, size, explosiveness, size ... and a pretty damn good starting five (sans a solid point guard). Frank Haith could almost unleash a Mike Anderson-esque line change midway through the first half, and the dropoff in production would actually be minimal. Good teams could take advantage of this lineups lack of a point guard, but there are enough strengths here that even good teams would have to account for them instead of simply pressuring the point.

4. Less pressure on Earnest Ross. For the first time in a while, Earnest Ross looked relaxed last night. He started the first nine games of the year, and his production just slipped and slipped. Entering the game as a backup, he was able to get a better feel for the game, and he calmly knocked down his first shot of the night (that corner 3 he winds up shooting a lot).

I realize that Frank Haith may have just started Jankovic as either a temporary reward for his fantastic performance against Tennessee State or as an energy boost following the long break. But I hope he keeps doing it. It sets the rotation up perfectly for Mizzou, and in theory it counteracts Mizzou's biggest problem to date: slow starts.

On Jabari:

"Overall, was very pleased with Brown's debut, even though it came against an intramural team."

"Pretty solid debut for Mr. Brown. He missed a few shots and failed to cure cancer, but overall I think he played pretty well."

Pretty much.

Meanwhile ... please explain, SleepyFloyd7.

Mizzou 102, S.C. State 51

Mizzou
SC St.
Pace (No. of Possessions) 68.3
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.49 0.75
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.42 0.74
2-PT FG% 77.8% 30.4%
3-PT FG% 22.2% 26.1%
FT% 87.5% 83.3%
True Shooting % 64.5% 35.6%
Mizzou SC St.
Assists 19 13
Steals 8 5
Turnovers 7 12
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
3.86 1.50
Mizzou SC St.
Expected Offensive Rebounds 11 18
Offensive Rebounds 15 16
Difference +4 -2

Rebounds vs. Expected Rebounds

First reaction: Hmm, South Carolina State sure did grab a lot of offensive rebounds last night. That's a bit of a concern.

Second reaction: They missed so many shots that they actually should have grabbed more offensive rebounds.

Mizzou won by 51 points while shooting horribly (and frequently) from long range.

You take the shots that are available, and I cannot remember too many times when I felt 3-pointers were being taken in stupid, well-covered fashion. But ... Mizzou shot 27 3-pointers last night. And they made six. Granted, we could say that was a sign of mercy -- make your 3's, and you win by about 65 -- and granted, Corey Haith yanked up four of them late in the game (he takes his walk-on role quite seriously). But still ... 27! That's probably too many for this team even if they're making them, and especially if they're making 78 percent of their 2-pointers.

Are we sure S.C. State had only 12 turnovers?

Because it felt like they had 12 in a row at one point in the second half. (Again, S.C. State is ... not good.)

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Earnest Ross 15.2 0.95 16 Min, 16 Pts (6-10 FG, 2-6 3PT, 2-2 FT), 3 Reb, 3 Ast
Negus Webster-Chan 12.6 0.50 25 Min, 7 Pts (3-3 FG, 1-1 3PT), 7 Reb (3 Off), 3 Ast
Alex Oriakhi 12.0 0.60 20 Min, 9 Pts (4-5 FG, 1-1 FT), 11 Reb (3 Off)
Phil Pressey 10.6 0.53 20 Min, 6 Pts (2-4 FG, 0-1 3PT, 2-2 FT), 6 Ast, 3 Reb, 2 Stl
Laurence Bowers 10.5 0.52 20 Min, 11 Pts (4-6 FG, 1-1 3PT, 2-2 FT), 2 Reb
Tony Criswell 9.4 0.55 17 Min, 8 Pts (4-6 FG), 8 Reb (4 Off)
Keion Bell 8.7 0.51 17 Min, 12 Pts (6-12 FG, 0-3 3PT), 4 Reb, 2 Stl
Stefan Jankovic 6.9 0.43 16 Min, 11 Pts (4-7 FG, 1-4 3PT, 2-3 FT)
Jabari Brown 6.6 0.33 20 Min, 12 Pts (3-9 FG, 1-7 3PT, 5-6 FT), 3 Ast, 2 TO
Ryan Rosburg 5.7 0.41 14 Min, 6 Pts (3-4 FG), 2 Reb
Danny Feldmann 3.4 0.69 5 Min, 4 Pts (2-2 FG)
Dominique Bull 0.7 0.14 5 Min, 0 Pts, 2 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 TO
Corey Haith -1.4 -0.28 5 Min, 0 Pts (0-4 3PT), 2 Ast
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Ross 32% 60% 5.2 61% 34% 5% 0%
NWC 6% 100% 2.3 85% 15% 0% 0%
Oriakhi 15% 61% 1.0 0% 75% 10% 15%
Pressey 14% 57% 5.9 85% 10% 3% 2%
Bowers 16% 61% 1.0 0% 81% 19% 0%
Criswell 16% 65% 2.0 50% 50% 0% 0%
Bell 36% 42% 2.2 0% 92% 0% 8%
Jankovic 27% 45% 1.8 0% 70% 20% 10%
Brown 32% 37% 4.7 54% 27% 13% 6%
Rosburg 13% 71% 0.8 0% 100% 0% 0%
Feldmann 19% 100% 1.1 0% 100% 0% 0%
Bull 9% 27% 3.9 85% 0% 0% 15%
Haith 37% 16% 9.0 75% 25% 0% 0%
  • Ten players played at least 14 minutes, and only one played more than 20. That's a tough balance to pull off, even in a blowout.
  • Bowers, NWC and Ross shot 4-for-8 from 3-point range. The rest of the team: 2-for-19. And yes, Jabari Brown, I like you, but seven 3-point attempts is too many, especially considering how well you evidently attack the rim. That said, you didn't force them -- they were pretty much open -- so I can only complain so much.
  • Nice "progression to the mean" game for NWC's shooting percentages, huh?
  • Between Stefan Jankovic and Tony Criswell, there's really no reason for this team to ever have an energy problem.

Summary

Again, that was fun. And again, we probably shouldn't take too much from it beyond that. But I really do think that Stefan Jankovic's role on this team could end up as or more important than Jabari Brown's, especially if he continues to start. With Jankovic in the starting lineup, everything falls into place incredibly well, even if he doesn't play well from time to time. (If he hits a prolonged slump, that's a different story altogether.) But despite the level of competition, it really does seem like that team has gone to a new level over the last three halves of basketball.

And, of course, none of that will matter if the team lays eggs against Illinois and UCLA. I think we have received confirmation that this team's ceiling is really, really high. But now the real games begin.

---

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 stiff 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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