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Pre-Nikai / Post-Nikai

This is probably pretty hard to believe considering how many stat-related football pieces (approximately eleventy billion) and basketball pieces (approximately 0) I’ve written on RMN, but I almost enjoy basketball stats as much as football years where Mizzou football isn’t almost matching Mizzou basketball in wins, anyway.

I thought it may be about time that I took a look at how Mizzou’s game has changed since Stefhon Hannah picked a fight with a short-order cook at Nikai.  Now, these numbers are a bit skewed by the creampuff non-conference games in the "Pre-Nikai", but it still tells a story.

Top Two Guards
Pre-Nikai: Hannah and Keon – 54.7 MPG, 24.7 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 7.7 APG, 4.9 TOPG, 3.1 SPG
Post-Nikai: Keon and Tiller – 59.8 MPG, 24.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 5.1 APG, 4.8 TOPG, 1.3 SPG

So offensively, the loss of Hannah hasn’t hurt us much—Keon and Tiller are matching Hannah and Keon’s output in the scoring column.  However, the defense is certainly hurt by the drop of almost two steals per game.  Tiller’s a good on-ball defender (when he’s not fouling...which is rare), but he’s not a pickpocket.  That, and Mike Anderson has obviously been lacking in confidence in the defense department, meaning we’re not being nearly as aggressive on defense (resulting in less steal opportunities).

Here’s another area where Hannah’s loss is making an impact:

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Matt Lawrence
Pre-Nikai: 24.4 MPG, 9.3 PPG, 1.13 PPS (pts per shot), 0.34 FGPM (FG Per Minute)
Post-Nikai: 28.6 MPG, 7.6 PPG, 0.96 PPS (real bad), 0.28 FGPM

Now...a guard can get away with 1.13 PPS if he’s creating other scoring opportunities for his team and/or playing solid defense.  Even a good guard can’t (or shouldn’t) get away with 0.96 PPS.  Being that Matt Lawrence needs good passing to get good shots, it’s obvious that without Hannah, MLaw isn’t getting as many good shots—and he wasn’t making many before the Athena Five!

(And for the record, MLaw shot at a 1.42 PPS rate last year.  That’s an insane dropoff.  That’s like going from Kareem Rush-level shooting to Glen Dandridge.)

Mizzou Possessions
Pre-Nikai: 74.5 Possessions Per Game, 1.08 Points Per Possession
Post-Nikai: 69.7 Possessions Per Game, 1.04 Points Per Possession

Leo Lyons’ offensive surge has helped us balance out Hannah’s absence and Demarre Carroll’s disappearance, and we’re doing alright here.  The pace has slowed a decent amount, and that makes some sense—we’re pressing and fast-breaking less, so we’re playing a more grind-it-out tempo.  And being that our schedule’s gotten tougher, this is actually impressive—we’re probably actually performing better on offense.  However...

Opponents’ Possessions
Pre-Nikai: 0.94 Points Per Possession
Post-Nikai: 1.15 Points Per Possession

YOWSA.’s where you need to take into account the level of opponent—we haven’t played any creampuffs (aside from Colorado) since Hannah’s injury.  Plus, Carroll’s degenerated really quickly, and without that extra pep, he’s not exactly a world-class defender.  But still...we’re giving up 22% more points per possession since Hannah moved back to Chicago.  And The Beef was complaining about defense before Hannah moved back to Chicago!

Opponents' Turnovers Per Game
Pre-Nikai: 18.7 Turnovers Per Game
Post-Nikai: 13.6 Turnovers Per Game


Here’s one more Hannah-related item...I find it quite interesting how Keon’s game has changed.  Almost every category has been altered in the last nine games.

Keon Lawrence
Pre-Nikai: 26.6 MPG, 10.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.08 PPS, 0.35 FGPM, 40% FG%, 0.15 RPM, 0.05 SPM, 0.05 PFPM (Personal Fouls Per Minute)
Post-Nikai: 34.2 MPG, 14.2 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 1.32 PPS, 0.31 FGPM, 54% FG%, 0.07 RPM, 0.01 SPM, 0.07 PFPM

He’s shooting less, making many more, staying out of the paint on defense (he had been averaging as many defensive rebounds per minute as Brown or Butterfield), and going for fewer steals while guarding better guards.  His role has changed considerably—for better and worse—now that he’s one of two reliable offensive threats on the team.  Just found that interesting.

I think those are the major Hannah-related items...let’s look at some other things...

Demarre Carroll
Pre-Nikai: 25.0 MPG, 13.9 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.3 SPG, 1.43 PPS, 0.21 FTPM (Free Throws Per Min)
Post-Nikai: 24.3 MPG, 9.4 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 0.9 APG, 1.0 SPG, 1.25 PPS, 0.14 FTPM

Quite a drop.  Again, the tougher opponents have something to do with that, but not THAT much.  When Carroll shoots, he’s settling on jumpers and getting to the free throw line about 33% less than he did before.  Granted, he’s never been great at making FTs, but making one of two is still better than missing a 17-foot jumper.  You don’t need stats to know that Carroll’s ankle’s been killing him, but this certainly reinforces the idea.

Leo Lyons
Pre-Nikai: 19.1 MPG, 11.7 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.56 PPS, 0.39 FGPM
Post-Nikai: 26.3 MPG, 15.9 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.46 PPS, 0.41 FGPM

Call it the Make-the-NBA-and-Get-the-Hell-Outta-Here surge...whatever it is, something has clicked with Leo as of late, and his gain is at least somewhat balancing out Carroll’s loss.

Justin Safford
Pre-Nikai: 7.0 MPG, 1.0 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 0.87 PPS, 0.16 FGPM
Post-Nikai: 12.8 MPG, 4.3 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 1.15 PPS, 0.30 FGPM

The year was becoming to look like a waste for Safford until playing time opened up for him.  He rebounds relatively well, he’s starting to discover his shooting range (though he probably still shoots a bit too much from the outside), and he’s becoming a pretty aggressive offensive option off the bench.  Unfortunately...

Pre-Nikai: 0.09 PFPM, 0.08 TOPM (Turnovers Per Minute)
Post-Nikai: 0.17 PFPM, 0.10 TOPM (Turnovers Per Minute)

Not to mention...

Pre-Nikai: 0.76 Pouts Per Minute
Post-Nikai: 4.86 Pouts Per Minute

Okay, I made that last one up.  But the reasons why Safford still isn’t seeing time over the mostly-worthless Marshall Brown and Darryl Butterfield are pretty obvious.

And I’ve been resisting the urge to post this one, but here goes...

Rebounds Per Game
Pre-Nikai:  Opponents 37.0, Mizzou 36.9 (-0.1)
Post-Nikai:  Opponents 39.8, Mizzou 30.8 (-9.0)

GGGHH.  Again, we’re playing bigger, better teams...yadda yadda.  But this is an insane difference, especially considering that Lyons and Carroll are combining for more rebounds Post-Nikai (12.8) than Pre (11.9), plus Matt Lawrence are contributing more in this regard than they used to.  What’s the major difference?  Well, Keon’s role has changed, and he’s one of the best-rebounding guards around.  But here’s the biggest thing I found:

Rebounds (Defensive & Offensive) Per Minute for Butterfield and Brown
Pre-Nikai: 0.11 Defensive RPM, 0.06 Offensive RPM
Post-Nikai: 0.06 Defensive RPM, 0.03 Offensive RPM

They’re taking more long-distance shots (they’re shooting 35% post-Nikai, as opposed to 44% pre-Nikai), which explains the drop in ORPM.  But DRPM?  That’s all about heart and hustle, is it not?

(I should also mention that Volkus’ rebounding numbers have gone from 0.30 RPM to 0.10 RPM...but I like picking on Butterfield and Brown, so I singled them out.)

I’m so ready for this senior class to graduate.