Mizzou's second game of the regular season will come against UT-Pan American, a historically, um, based team. They won an NAIA title in the 1960s, and under future former Texas coach Abe Lemons. Under Lemons, UTPA went 13-9, 22-2, and 20-5, but because they are UT-Pan American, they never made the NCAA Tournament. In the 1980s, they got Lon Kruger's somewhat illustrious career started, and after a stint in the Sun Belt conference early in the 1990s, they ended up back among the ranks of the independents. They are now a member of the greatest conference in the history of the world, the Great West Conference. What makes it so fantastic? Its members: Chicago State, Houston Baptist, N.J.I.T., North Dakota, South Dakota, UTPA, and Utah Valley. Again, it is called the Great West Conference...because it is west of the Atlantic Ocean, I guess? Anyway, before they can take on those natural geographic rivals, they take on Mizzou.
UTPA is 0-3 thus far this season, with losses to Louisiana Tech (80-62), Lamar (77-72), and Texas A&M-CC (77-55). Even though it's only three games, I'll go ahead and use 2009-10 stats for this one instead of last year's stats.
UT-Pan American: 0-3
|Points Per Minute
|Points Per Possession (PPP)
|Points Per Shot (PPS)
|True Shooting %||50.8%||61.0%|
|Ball Control Index
(Assists + Steals) / TO
|Expected Offensive Rebounds||36||30|
Where the Broncs are decent: They're really not a bad ball-handling team. A 1.20 BCI is not amazing, but it's certainly not bad. It is driven mostly by an apparent risk-taking defense that forces over 16 turnovers per game. Mizzou has been a little careless with the ball thus far, so they might find some success there. Not a ton, but some. Meanwhile, rebounding is not necessarily a strength, but it's not a tremendous weakness--in terms of expected rebounds, they are only about -3.3 per game.
Where the Broncs are less than decent: Um, everywhere else? They turn the ball over almost 17 times per game, and that has come against defense that I'm assuming are less impressive than Missouri's. Expect about 23-28 turnovers from the Broncs (not Broncos, mind you). They are also giving up a ton of easy buckets, as evidenced by the fact that they have allowed a True Shooting % of over 60%.
|Jared Maree (6'3, 200, So.)||13.5||0.52||25.7 MPG, 11.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 2.3 TOPG|
|Julius Hearn (6'0, 175, Jr.)||6.7||0.29||22.7 MPG, 7.3 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.3 APG, 2.7 TOPG|
|Luis Valera (6'7, 219, Sr.)||6.3||0.34||18.3 MPG, 8.3 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 2.0 TOPG|
|Aaron Urbanus (6'0, 147, Fr.)||5.1||0.35||14.7 MPG, 4.7 PPG, 2.0 APG|
|Ben Smith (6'3, 193, Sr.)||5.0||0.25||20.0 MPG, 5.3 PPG, 1.3 APG|
|Manny Hendrix (6'2, 182, Jr.)||4.9||0.29||16.7 MPG, 4.0 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 1.3 APG|
|Nick Weiermiller (6'1, 203, Jr.)||4.8||0.18||27.3 MPG, 6.7 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 4.0 APG, 4.0 TOPG|
|ChaRunn Jones (5'9, 187, So.)||3.7||0.22||17.0 MPG, 4.7 PPG, 1.7 APG|
|Jacob Trader (6'9, 227, Jr.)||3.3||0.47||7.0 MPG, 2.3 PPG|
|Nathan Hawkins (6'6, 279, Sr.)||2.8||0.19||14.7 MPG, 6.7 PPG, 1.3 RPG|
|Rakeem Couch (6'3, 239, Jr.)||2.7||0.19||14.3 MPG, 1.7 PPG, 2.3 RPG|
|Rico Seagears (5'10, 168, Jr.)||0.0||0.00||2.0 MPG|
* AdjGS = a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds. It redistributes a team's points based not only on points scored, but also by giving credit for assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls. It is a stat intended to determine who had the biggest overall impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.
- A 147-pounder, a 6'3, 239-pounder, and a 6'6, 279-pounder. Interesting team.
- This team's best player by far is Jared Maree, the biggest of what looks to be almost a four-guard lineup. Of the seven players averaging 15 minutes or more so far, six of them are 6'3 or shorter. But then two bigger (weight-wise, anyway) guys in Hawkins and Couch average over 14.
- I'll say this much: Aaron Urbanus isn't very big (can't wait to see him guarded by Zaire Taylor, who is only four inches taller and 50 pounds bigger), but it appears he may be better than both Nick Weiermiller and ChaRunn Jones, both of whom are more experienced and receiving more minutes.
Keys to the Game
3-Point Shooting. I say this not because of UTPA, but because Mizzou has just been brutal from behind the arc, and since this offense will always take quite a few 3's, um, they should probably make some.
Turnovers. One thing at which UTPA is rather adept is forcing turnovers, and this early in the season, Mizzou has been a big turnover prone. If this game stays closer than it should, it's probably because Mizzou was too careless with the ball (that, or they went 0-for-22 from 3-point range, of course).
Justin Safford. While Laurence Bowers has been lighting the world aflame early on, Safford has remained relatively quiet. With a significant size advantage on most of the UTPA roster (and what has to be a pretty big quickness advantage over the others), Saffy should by all means have the opportunity to make some things happen. If he wants to hold onto his starting job, he should probably take advantage.
Um, how does Mizzou 87, UTPA 59 sound? Good? We'll go with that.