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Kansas: Know your rival (again)

UPDATE: Okay, no update, but I'm bumping this back to the top of the page.

Gotta love this blurb from PowerMizzou's MU-KU preview:

Just another game? Not even close. DeMarre Carroll remembers when he first got to Mizzou and his cousin, Michael Anderson, Jr., was telling him about the place.

"He told me, 'You're going to trip out when you see this.' And he showed me the Kansas game, I guess, when the Kansas dude missed the free throws, Moody or whatever. And they went crazy. He was just like, 'Man, they got big time rivalries up here,'" Carroll said. "When I first got here, I was like, 'Why you all hate KU?' I really didn't get why they hate them. As I keep playing, the way they play, the way their fans act towards us, I kind of see why they hate them. I guess I'm falling in that mode of Missouri versus KU, I kind of dislike them just like they dislike us."

Further proof that you don't have to be born a true son, to end up a true son, I guess.

Not too much has changed since last time I analyzed Kansas, but with the magnitude of tomorrow's game, it's worth taking another close look.

vs Big 12
Kansas: 12-1

KU Opp
Points Per Minute
1.88 1.58
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.11 0.94
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.43 1.15
2-PT FG% 53.6% 42.1%
3-PT FG% 41.2% 31.6%
FT% 72.6% 71.4%
True Shooting % 60.2% 49.3%
KU Opp
Assists 188 153
Steals 83 96
Turnovers 207 170
Ball Control Index
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.31 1.46
KU Opp
Expected Offensive Rebounds 135 169
Offensive Rebounds 130 121
Difference -5 -48
  • What KU's good at: shooting, preventing good shots on defense, defensive rebounding.
  • What KU's not as good at: ball-handling, offensive rebounding.  Now, they're certainly solid in both regards--I think we would all love to have a guy like Cole Aldrich crashing the offensive glass, and a 1.31 BCI is certainly far from terrible.  But if you're going to beat them, it's by stealing the ball and, if they do get a shot off, holding them to one.  Especially at home, where one offensive rebound and kick-out for 3 creates an insane amount of momentum.
Player AdjGS* GmSc/Min Line
Cole Aldrich (So) 18.66 0.60 14.6 PPG, 11.5 RPG, 2.2 BPG
Sherron Collins (Jr) 16.12 0.45 18.4 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 4.6 APG, 1.1 SPG, 3.1 TOPG
Tyshawn Taylor (Fr) 8.50 0.34 10.0 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 2.5 APG, 2.7 TOPG
Brady Morningstar (So) 7.97 0.24 6.6 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.4 SPG
Marcus Morris (Fr)
6.59 0.38 7.0 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 1.2 APG, 2.3 TOPG
Mario Little (Jr) 6.07 0.43 5.8 PPG, 3.2 RPG
Markieff Morris (Fr)
4.75 0.37 4.4 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 1.0 BPG
Tyrel Reed (So) 4.58 0.22 5.7 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 1.2 SPG
Travis Releford (Fr) 1.33 0.22 2.3 PPG, 1.1 RPG
Matt Kleinmann (Sr) 1.05 1.05 3 minutes
Jordan Juenemann (Fr) 0.00 0.00 1 minute
Brennan Bechard (Sr) -0.04 -0.04 3 minutes
Tyrone Appleton (Jr) -0.22 -0.13 12 minutes
Chase Buford (So) -0.46 -0.61 3 minutes
Quintrell Thomas (Fr) -0.46 -0.14 0.1 PPG, 1.4 RPG
Conner Teahan (So) -0.58 -0.36 8 minutes (and still 1 lifetime of shame)

* AdjGS = a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds.  It does the same thing my previous measure of choice did (it takes points, assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls into account to determine an individual's "score" for a given game), only the formula is more used and accepted.  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.

  • When Sherron Collins is on fire, KU's more or less unstoppable.  We know that.  But when he's not on fire, they're still damn solid because of the underrated presence of Aldrich underneath.  As I mentioned (I think) in the Podcast the other day, Aldrich has mastered the art of leaning on his man when the ball's in the air and giving them no leverage or good angle with which to jump and grab the ball. 

    Is it a foul?  Probably so, in a technical sense--I know every single fan of every single KU opponent thinks Aldrich got away with about 17 fouls in their game(s) against KU--but it doesn't really matter because it's subtle enough that he's clearly always going to get away with it, and he's so skilled at the nuances of rebounding (like that) that he's going to grab just about any board that ends up on his side of the rim.  When Mizzou caught up in the second half against KU, it was because a) they were merciless in tipping balls and attacking Aldrich with whatever bodies were around, and b) Aldrich was completely gassed.  It will be harder to duplicate that at Allen, but Mizzou has to try.

  • Like everybody who dabbles in basketball stats, I do wish there were better ways to measure defensive ability.  Because if there were, Brady Morningstar (and to a lesser extent, Tyrel "Reggie Cleveland All-Stars" Reed) would clearly be averaging well over 0.25 AdjGS/min.  Morningstar and Reed are not really offensive threats--they will nail open 3's, and that's a great weapon to have, but they're not going to punish you in a lot of different ways.  But on defense, they're one of the main reasons KU's opponents have a true shooting % under 50%.

    Granted, you're able to take chances on the perimeter when your interior defense is so good--and the first time around against KU, their interior D was what impressed me the most--but KU fans think of Morningstar the way we think of J.T. Tiller on the defensive end, and that's clearly not just because of interior D.
  • Mario Little's averages have fallen since last time MU and KU played.  He entered that game averaging about 0.55 AdjGS/min--tied for first on the team with Aldrich (and he reaffirmed his importance by confidently hitting the tying jumper with under a minute left).  Now that number's tumbled by about 20% (meanwhile, Aldrich's has gone up to 0.60).
  • Other changes since the first time around: Collins has improved slightly, Reed has regressed (as has, to a lesser extent, Marcus Morris), and Releford has improved a bit with more playing time (give me Kim English if I had to make a choice, of course, but Releford would have done some good things in Mike Anderson's system).  But this team still clearly revolves around Aldrich and Collins.  If Collins has his "great Chicago-style player" mask on, making fearless shots, playing great defense, and in general refusing to be denied, then KU is a killer team.  But if he's in "bad Chicago-style player" mode, taking stupid shots, turning the ball over, and suffering brain farts on D, then KU's imminently beatable.

Keys to the Game

  1. Turnovers.  Have you caught on that this will probably always be the #1 key to a Mizzou game?  It goes double for KU, whose biggest armor chink comes in the form of ball-handling.  They clearly won't turn the ball over 27 times like they did at Mizzou Arena, but if Mizzou doesn't lay a first half egg this time around, they won't have to force 27--17-20 will do.  Any less, and Mizzou's probably in trouble.

  2. Wear Cole Aldrich out again.  The offense runs through Collins, but the team's success runs through Aldrich, who completely and totally dominates every inch of the paint when he's on.  If Mizzou can take other interior weapons (a.k.a. the Morris twins) out of the picture and make Aldrich dominate for a longer period of time, then his "0.60 AdjGS/min" starts to fall precipitously down the stretch.

  3. Hustle & Flow (a.k.a. JT Tiller and Zaire Taylor).  They were 3-for-12 from the field the first time around (1-for-10 in the first 39 minutes), but their late-game heroics earned them all sorts of well-deserved love and admiration from Mizzou fans.  That's great...but they can't go 3-for-12 this time around.  KU is custom built to stop the inside threat of DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons (and I'm thinking the outside shot of Carroll and Lyons is much less likely to be successful in a hostile environment like AFH), and Mizzou is going to have to get great games from Hustle & Flow on both ends of the court to take the pressure off the bigs.

    Technically it doesn't have to be Tiller and Taylor--basically Mizzou needs a backcourt threat on offense, be it Tiller, Mr. Coffee, Goose, Denmon, English, whoever.  But Mizzou's probably not going to win if Mike Anderson has to severely dip into the bench, so the best case scenario is that Tiller & Taylor both play big minutes, and one of them is hitting some shots.


Back when The Beef and I did Tigerboard Radio, I would always base my predictions with this disclaimer: "If Mizzou wins, I want to say I called it.  So if they win, it will be something like..."

So with that in mind, if Mizzou wins at AFH for the first time since 1999, it's going to be in the "74-70 dogfight" range.  As I said on the Podcast the other night, Ken Pomeroy's odds (38% chance of Mizzou winning) are more or less dead on.  If MU and KU play this game three times, you'll probably see two dogfights (and at this point, I like Mizzou's chances of winning a dogfight against anybody--I'm a convert) and one easy KU win.  Clearly I'm hoping for the former.  So with that said...hell yeah I'm picking Mizzou to win!  74-70 Mizzou (unless it's 82-66 Kansas, ahem).  Bring home the Big 12 lead, boys.

And because it needs to be done...