USA TODAY Sports
Flip needs an occasional night off.
It has been a bit since I saw Mizzou play. UCLA to be exact.
Georgia is not good, and really they haven't been good for a prolonged period during the Mark Fox era. At home, I needed to see the team handle business and the non-Pressey players bring something to the table. Alex Oriakhi had a quietly awesome game, despite getting no dap from the official for a big-time rebound late in the game. It's not just what he did. It's what he didn't do. No really stupid fouls or other negative plays. Stefan Jankovic and Tony Criswell appeared to bring more energy than productivity, but the effort was there. With that kind of effort better productivity should follow. Keion Bell, Jabari Brown, and Earnest Ross all had good games too. Well done.
1. Any time Missouri can get good ball handling from someone other than Flip it's all to the good. It was different players at different times, but both Bell and Brown spent some time setting up the half court plays. The team is still woefully dependent on Phil Pressey, but Bell and Brown took on the challenge and were decent in their decision-making and pure handle. The thought of taking on Florida fills me with dread. I just don't know if we have enough ball handlers, but over the long-term tonight's minutes where Bell and Brown ran the show times were important.
2. This offense struggles on the weak side. I've struggled to put my finger on why we see so many stretches of really poor offense (not just shooting). To truly maximize a born pick-and-roll player like Pressey, a team needs excellent play on the weak side. Ours comes and goes. That's one of the major "we're just going to have to live through this" struggles for this team. Our transfer wings (Bell, Brown, and Ross) are all learning how to play on the weak side, an underappreciated skill set. The big thing is reading the floor well enough to understand when to cut to the basket and when to spot up when Flip comes off the screen at the top. There is no formula for how to read the floor from the weak side. The Georgia game seemed to illustrate the issue. Sometimes they read it correctly. Sometimes times they don't.
Laurence Bowers is the team's best weak side player. Think of how often we see Bowers come from seemingly nowhere to create a passing angle for Flip, get a tip in, or spot up for wide open looks. So much of that has to be read on the fly. Somewhat hilariously, Criswell seems good at reading the floor on the weak side while Jankovic is dreadful. Criswell is such a poor shooter I keep wondering how he so often seems like he's doing good things. He has a good feel for getting to the right spot to get the ball. (What happens after that is another matter.) On the other hand Jankovich is not very good at reading the floor. Consequently, he is either (a) hitting a shot or (b) taking himself or the ball headlong into disaster.
Of course, this is an impression. It's not based on systematic film study. I'll leave that to others.