Mizzou Basketball Vs. Europe: Study Hall

Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Your Trip Trifecta: Mike Dixon 16.2, Earnest Ross 16.2, Keion Bell 13.1.

Phil Pressey and Laurence Bowers didn't play, and Negus Webster-Chan was either dealing with eligibility or (more likely, I think) visa issues, so we didn't get a true look at Mizzou's full squad during their European vacation this month. BUT ... we already know what Pressey and Bowers can do, so we only really missed out on NWC. And even without two likely starters, Mizzou only occasionally struggled on this trip, going, basically, 4.5-0 (thanks to the odd Game No. 2 incidents with Stefan Jankovic catching an elbow to the head and Frank Haith taking his team off the court).

Here are the box scores for each game.

In five games, six of the nine scholarship players on the trip got into the Trifecta at least once. Not bad. (And if you've forgotten what the Trifecta is, exactly, it's the top three Mizzou scorers according to the "AdjGS" measure you can find more about at the bottom of the post.)

Mizzou 83.3, Europe 62.7

Mizzou
Europe
Pace (No. of Possessions) 77.8
Points Per Minute 2.08 1.57
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.07 0.81
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.23 1.15
2-PT FG% 53.5% 46.9%
3-PT FG% 26.9% 21.8%
FT% 67.3% 63.0%
True Shooting % 53.5% 46.7%
Mizzou Europe
Assists 16.0 8.9
Steals 13.3 7.3
Turnovers 16.9 20.2
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.74 0.80
Mizzou Europe
Expected Offensive Rebounds 11.8 11.1
Offensive Rebounds 15.6 6.6
Difference +3.8 -4.5

Some Combination Of Great Defense And Poor Offenses

Mizzou only averaged 1.07 points per possession on the trip, which is solid but less than tremendous. That's okay, really, considering Phil Pressey wasn't playing. But the bigger story was that defensive number; Mizzou allowed just 0.81 points per possession on the trip. I'm not going to claim that any team they played was tremendous offensively (I have no idea, but I assume reasonably low quality here), but let's put it this way: in the three Mizzou exhibitions last year, Missouri Southern, Truman State and Central Missouri combined to average 0.88 points per possession. So 0.81 is really, really damn low, and no matter the level of competition, MIzzou played some strong defense.

So how did they do it? Well, creating 20.2 turnovers per game helped, but one should probably note the combination of 21.8% 3-point shooting and Mizzou's complete and total domination on the glass. For better and for worse, this year's team is going to have a completely different identity. Last year's weaknesses (rebounding, 3-point defense) could become strengths this year, while last year's strengths (3-point shooting, offensive ball-handling) could become occasional weaknesses. (I'm not going to fret too much about that Mizzou averaging 16.9 turnovers since, again, there was no Pressey.) We don't typically see such a 180-degree flip in identity ... but we rarely see so much roster turnover, either. Incredibly, only one contributor from last year -- Mike Dixon -- played for Mizzou in Europe. The starter minutes went to Dixon and four transfers (Earnest Ross, Alex Oriakhi, Keion Bell, Jabari Brown).

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Mike Dixon 16.2 0.54 30.2 MPG, 17.8 PPG (50% 2PT, 38% 3PT, 88% FT), 5.3 APG, 3.8 RPG, 2.4 SPG, 3.8 TOPG
Earnest Ross 16.2 0.55 29.3 MPG, 12.9 PPG (62% 2PT, 21% 3PT, 57% FT), 9.6 RPG (3.0 OFF), 3.1 RPG, 2.7 SPG, 2.2 TOPG
Keion Bell 13.1 0.43 30.9 MPG, 12.0 PPG (51% 2PT, 20% 3PT, 68% FT), 6.2 RPG, 4.2 APG, 2.7 SPG, 3.3 TOPG
Alex Oriakhi 12.5 0.57 21.8 MPG, 10.7 PPG (59% 2PT, 71% FT), 7.8 RPG, 1.3 BPG, 1.1 TOPG
Ryan Rosburg 7.4 0.41 17.8 MPG, 6.0 PPG (50% 2PT, 47% FT), 4.9 RPG
Tony Criswell 7.4 0.36 20.4 MPG, 8.9 PPG (65% 2PT, 20% 3PT, 64% FT), 4.7 RPG, 1.6 TOPG
Jabari Brown 7.0 0.29 24.0 MPG, 10.7 PPG (45% 2PT, 25% 3PT, 67% FT), 2.9 RPG, 1.8 SPG, 1.6 APG, 2.0 TOPG
Stefan Jankovic 1.3 0.11 12.0 MPG, 3.6 PPG (57% 2PT, 29% 3PT, 67% FT), 2.7 RPG, 1.3 TOPG
Danny Feldmann 1.2 0.15 7.8 MPG, 0.9 PPG (28% 2PT), 1.3 RPG
Dominique Bull 0.5 0.10 4.4 MPG, 0.0 PPG
Corey Haith -1.1 -0.64 1.8 MPG

The Eight-Man Rotation

Generally speaking, an eight-man rotation consists of your five starters, an extra point guard, an extra wing, and an extra big. I'm not saying that's what Mizzou is going to go with this winter, but if they were to go in that direction, things have taken shape relatively clearly.

Starters: Pressey, Dixon, Ross, Bowers, Oriakhi
Backup Point: Bell
Backup Wing: Brown (when eligible)
Backup Big: Criswell

Now, there are tons of caveats with what I just wrote. Ross and Bowers will probably both spend a lot of time at the power forward spot (depending on how much Haith decides to play small ball this year), meaning Pressey, Dixon and Bell could spend quite a bit of time together in the backcourt. Plus, while Criswell showed quite a bit, especially in Games No. 1 and 4, Ryan Rosburg could give him a run for his money. Rosburg was a beast on the offensive glass (15% offensive rebounding rate to Criswell's 7%) and, as we'll see below, drew tons of contact, but Criswell might be a little better on the defensive side of the ball (17% defensive rebounding rate to Rosburg's 13%). That alone might suggest that Mizzou will go with more of a nine-man rotation. And that could go to 10 at times, since somebody is going to have to play the Backup Wing role until Brown becomes eligible. And considering Dominique Bull was getting Corey Haith minutes even without Pressey involved, I'm pretty sure that somebody is named Negus Webster-Chan (or, technically, Stefan Jankovic, who roamed the perimeter quite a bit on offense).

Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Dixon 27% 41% 4.5 60% 26% 6% 7%
Ross 21% 41% 3.0 54% 35% 4% 7%
Bell 20% 41% 3.5 61% 23% 9% 8%
Oriakhi 19% 47% 1.6 19% 53% 19% 8%
Rosburg 15% 40% 1.3 15% 50% 31% 5%
Criswell 18% 43% 1.6 21% 50% 16% 13%
Brown 24% 34% 2.6 38% 42% 12% 8%
Jankovic 17% 28% 1.1 0% 62% 11% 27%
Feldmann 11% 25% 1.5 57% 39% 0% 5%

More thoughts:

  • Mike Dixon shot 9-for-24 from 3-point range (1-for-6 versus Gent, 8-for-18 versus everybody else), good for a decent 37.5%. Everybody else: 12-for-54 (22.2%). Yuck. Jabari Brown shoots a lot of 3-pointers (16 in 108 minutes) considering he still hasn't proven he's very good at them, but Earnest Ross yanked up quite a few himself (19 in 132 minutes). Jankovic and Criswell took 12 in a combined 146 minutes, as well. Mizzou is probably going to keep shooting a lot of 3's, but let's just say I hope they continue their stellar offensive rebounding ways this winter.
  • On a per-minute basis, your best box score contributor was neither Dixon (0.54 AdjGS per minute) nor Ross (0.55); it was Alex Oriakhi (0.57), who scored 48 points on 32 field goal attempts and absolutely pummeled the glass (20% offensive rebounding rate, 17% defensive rebounding rate). He was easily the biggest force on the offensive glass, and he was second on defense to ... small forward Earnest Ross (22%). When you've got a Phil Pressey and Mike Dixon leading the charge, you can play at a fast pace while still practicing full-team rebounding. Considering six different players averaged at least a 13% defensive rebounding rate (and, hell, Dixon was at 12%), it's fair to say that's what Mizzou attempted here. And with infinitely more big bodies than last year, they did a hell of a job.
  • I was really, really curious about Keion Bell's box score contributions. As we know, he was a huge scorer at Pepperdine, but we didn't completely know if that was by design or necessity. Well, with the way he played in Europe, it's pretty clear that Mizzou now has a backcourt of three potential point guards, or at least one true point in Phil Pressey (sorry, Doug Gottlieb) and two 1.5's in Dixon and Bell. Bell's percentages (61% pass, 23% shoot, 9% fouled, 8% turnover) mirrored Dixon's almost exactly. That's pretty much exactly what I hoped to see.
  • As long as you're not counting on him too much, it's nice to have a free-shooting loose cannon coming off of the bench. He can shoot you into games sometimes, and if he's shooting you out, you send him back to the bench. Well ... let's hope Mizzou isn't absolutely counting on Jabari Brown this season; he could be a great contributor off the bench, but he really does shoot a lot. Then again, that might be unfair, Both Dixon and Ross were doing a lot of ball-handling, so somebody had to be taking the shots. And the fact that he averaged 1.8 steals and 1.6 assists is a decent sign that he can contribute to the box score when his shot isn't falling (and for much of the trip, it wasn't).
  • Alex Oriakhi averaged 3.8 fouls in just 21.8 minutes per game. So yeah, it's quite likely that Criswell, Rosburg and Jankovic will all get some minutes this season.
  • We know what kind of hands Mike Dixon has, but it was really exciting to see that both Ross and Bell each averaged 2.7 steals per game(and Brown threw in another 1.8). We don't yet know how the perimeter defense will be this year, but signs point to improvement there and a lot of quick hands on defense.

Summary

I was excited to see that MUtigers.com was providing box scores for these games (and yeah, I had to dig around to find the Dutch B box score; but I found it!). This was the perfect opportunity to get a read for a fascinating, new team, and while it isn't smart to draw too many conclusions from this, I think we have a better idea for this team's style, strengths and weaknesses now than we did a couple of weeks ago. It should be a fun season. Now back to your regularly scheduled football content.

---

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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