The 2013-2014 Mizzou basketball team has been struggling since just before SEC play started, and there have been a number of discussions as to why.
The most common elements usually cited as the problem are a) defense and b) the lack of a post presence.
But what about the offense in general? We've all been, at times, inspired by the play of Jordan Clarkson, Jabari Brown, and Earnest Ross. And there's no questioning that they are playing well as a whole this season. However, an examination of a few important numbers from the three Mizzou SEC conference losses to date illustrate some glaring problems.
First is blocks. The three top players for Mizzou love to drive the ball. And early in the season, that was a huge advantage. Not only did they draw whistles, but they were getting good looks. Then came SEC play.
- v. Georgia (L 70-64, OT) - 8 blocks
- @ Auburn (W 70-68) - 8 blocks
- @ Vandy (L 78-75) - 7 blocks
- v. Alabama (W 68-47) - 5 blocks
- @ LSU (L 77-71) - 9 blocks
With the set of bigs Mizzou has, driving the ball becomes a less effective strategy - especially in games that are being officiated without early season attention to new points of emphasis. Blocked shots are being recovered by the defense and providing momentum. When Mizzou bigs manage to recover a blocked shot, they are prone to committing quick turnovers, following up with missed layups or even more blocked shots, or kicking the ball into the stands. Okay, maybe not that last one...
The other element of concern with the Mizzou offense is the increasing length and frequency of stretches without field goals. This overlaps with the issue of blocks as well as the lack of post presence. But I believe it also relieves some of the blame on the defense; if the offense is incapable of getting buckets, it becomes quite the task to ask the defense to prevent the other team as much or more. That they have failed to do so in 3 conference games to date is not, in my opinion, worthy of nearly the blame they are receiving.
Here are the Mizzou offensive lapses in conference losses.
- 1st half: 4:17 (Ross 3, 5:57 - Criswell 3, 1:40)
- 2nd half: 4:07 (Ross 3, 15:17 - Brown layup, 11:10), 4:01 (Brown 3, 8:49 - Criswell jumper, 4:48)
- 1st half: 4:34 (Brown layup, 17:03 - Criswell 3, 12:29), 4:25 (Ross layup, 4:49 - Clarkson layup, 0:24)
- 2nd half: 5:09 (Clarkson layup, 15:02 - Brown 3, 9:53), 3:35 (Ross layup, 8:39 - Brown dunk, 5:04)
- 1st half: 3:54 (Brown 3, 5:35 - Brown layup, 1:41)
- 2nd half: 3:15 (Rosburg 2, 14:58 - Brown dunk, 11:43), 3:05 (Brown dunk, 11:43 - Ross tip, 8:38)
Although the issue of post players is integral to both of these problems, I would argue that there has not been enough done in using the guards in a way that helps alleviate these problems. Or perhaps I'm really just trying to vent after yet another painful defeat. I have a few ideas, but they are stupid because I know so little about the intricacies of basketball. However, I would love to hear what any of you think.