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Study Hall: Wyoming

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Your Trifecta: Dixon-English-Bowers. Your winner: nobody.

I didn't see a second of this game -- I was at work quite late, and while I think I'm supposed to get CBS College on my Mediacom package, I indeed do not.  I kept up with the comments thread, and I've obviously seen the box score, so I'm going to let that be my guide through a quick, "I didn't see the game, and I'm getting ready to head down to Oklahoma for Thanksgiving, plus I have to write a quick La Salle preview for later in the day" Study Hall piece.

Mizzou 72, Wyoming 62

Pace (No. of Possessions)
Points Per Minute
1.80 1.55
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.00 0.86
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.07 1.22
2-PT FG% 40.0% 45.9%
3-PT FG% 37.0% 21.4%
FT% 83.3% 63.3%
True Shooting % 49.8% 48.3%
Mizzou Wyoming
Assists 20 6
Steals 8 4
Turnovers 20 19
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.40 0.53
Mizzou Wyoming
Expected Offensive Rebounds 15 13
Offensive Rebounds 18 11
Difference +3 -2

So ... it sort of went how we would want it to go, I guess.

Mizzou almost tripled Wyoming in the BCI department, outrebounded them by five (according to expected rebounds), shot 37% from 3-point range and 83% at the line, held Wyoming to 0.86 points per possession ... these are all good things, right?  And ... Mizzou ended up winning by double digits in the end, right?  So ... it was all good?  Well, not really.  I mean, winner, winner, etc.  But ... not all good.

One giant red flag in the "How well does a team match up with Mizzou?" department has to be how good they are at drawing fouls.  Mizzou doesn't always foul a lot, but they are vulnerable to such a thing with the right kind of officiating.  Against Wyoming, Mizzou committed 23 fouls to the Cowboys' 16, despite leading basically the entire game.  Wyoming shot 39% from the field, couldn't grab offensive rebounds, and turned the ball over 19 times ... and yet they still cut a double-digit deficit down to just two points (59-57 with 4:22 left) thanks to Mizzou's propensity for fouling, Wyoming's propensity for drawing fouls, and Mizzou's inability to avoid turnovers.  Against both Western Illinois and Wyoming, Mizzou was almost tripped up by things that were weaknesses at times last season, and that is a bit bothersome.  As I will continue saying for most of the next month, it is unwise to draw too many conclusions, good or bad, from early-season play.  But even if Mizzou's performance in the first three games hasn't been amazingly discouraging ... it hasn't been encouraging either.

Seriously ... 20 turnovers?  Seven from our point guards?

Mizzou Player Stats

AdjGS* GmSc/Min Line
Mike Dixon 20.7 0.71 29 Min, 17 Pts (6-13 FG, 3-6 3PT), 6 Reb (2 Off), 6 Ast, 2 Stl, 3 TO
Kim English 15.7 0.56 28 Min, 11 Pts (3-10 FG, 2-7 3PT, 3-4 FT), 7 Reb (4 Off), 5 Ast, 2 Stl, 3 TO
Laurence Bowers 11.7 0.59 20 Min, 12 Pts (5-10 FG), 7 Reb (4 Off), 3 TO
Ricardo Ratliffe 10.1 0.42 24 Min, 8 Pts (4-8 FG), 10 Reb (2 Off)
Justin Safford 7.0 0.41 17 Min, 6 Pts (3-4 FG), 2 Reb
Steve Moore 3.1 0.17 19 Min, 0 Pts, 4 Reb (2 Off), 3 Blk
Matt Pressey 2.4 0.30 8 Min, 3 Pts (1-3 FG), 2 TO
Ricky Kreklow 1.7 0.24 7 Min, 4 Pts (1-2 FG)
Marcus Denmon 0.0 0.00 32 Min, 9 Pts (3-13 FG, 3-7 3PT), 2 Ast, 3 TO
Phil Pressey -0.6 -0.04 16 Min, 2 Pts (0-4 FG), 4 Reb, 2 Ast, 4 TO

On a per-minute basis, three Tigers were very good (typically, anything over 0.50 AdjGS per minute is very good), two were decent ... and Marcus Denmon and Phil Pressey contributed approximately minus-0.6 points to the cause over the course of 48 minutes.  Seriously, they took up 24% of Mizzou's minutes in the game, and everything they contributed (11 points, four assists) was balanced out by things they took off the table (seven turnovers, 3-for-17 shooting).  Even if the other three guys on the court are playing well, it is difficult to overcome that.

Thankfully, Mike Dixon had a career night.  He shot well, his BCI was a rock solid 2.7 (Phil Pressey's: 0.8), and perhaps most importantly, he contributed over the long haul -- 29 minutes.  Also good: Kim English contributed a ton to the box score other than points.  His 11 points on 10 shots is far from amazing, but he passed the ball well, handled the ball seemingly a little better than he had been, and grabbed four offensive rebounds.

Also: he's far from an overwhelming force yet, but it bears mentioning that Ricardo Ratliffe now has two double-doubles in three career games (D'OH!) Ricardo Ratliffe is coming along nicely.

Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Mike Dixon 25% 42% 5.1 65% 24% 5% 6%
Kim English 23% 33% 4.7 62% 21% 11% 6%
Laurence Bowers 30% 36% 3.0 27% 46% 12% 14%
Ricardo Ratliffe 14% 45% 1.6 42% 58% 0% 0%
Justin Safford 10% 72% 1.6 60% 40% 0% 0%
Steve Moore 2% 27% 1.0 86% 0% 0% 14%
Matt Pressey 27% 22% 3.8 54% 28% 0% 18%
Ricky Kreklow 24% 30% 2.2 0% 35% 47% 18%
Marcus Denmon 22% 18% 2.4 42% 47% 0% 11%
Phil Pressey 24% 17% 3.9 52% 18% 12% 18%

On average, Usage% (definition at the bottom of this post) is designed to average out at 20% per player, so that five players on the court equal out to 100% of the team's "usage."  The team Mizzou plays tonight, La Salle, has two players near 30% Usage for the season, two guys at 20%, and a bunch of role players under 20%.  Against Wyoming, Mizzou had seven guys at 22% or higher, a black hole (Moore) and two near-black holes (Safford, Ratliffe).  That's not healthy.  We are still figuring out what roles these players are going to play, and as long as Mike Anderson gets things figured out eventually, it's all good.  But until then, Mizzou's going to have some rather large streaks of aimless basketball.

Another red flag, by the way: only four players really got fouled last night.  Half of the ten-man rotation had a 0% in the %Fouled department, and another player (Dixon) was at 5%.  Mizzou settled for jumpers and low-contact opportunities, and while they won, the trend was not necessarily encouraging.

Three Keys Revisited

From Monday's preview.

Smart Defense

Mizzou committed 23 fouls and allowed Wyoming to shoot 30 free throws.  This was close to my nightmare scenario in this game.  But they also held Wyoming to 39% shooting and kept them off the glass.  I guess I will call this a wash, but they could have performed better.

Don't Settle For Jumpers

Mizzou shot 27 3-pointers and went to the line just 12 times.  They settled for jumpers.  Again, it didn't cost them.  But it wasn't necessarily encouraging.

Do What You Do

In the end, Mizzou won playing Mizzou basketball -- they dominated in the BCI department, made enough of their jumpers to build a cushion, put together a huge spurt that got them a lead they would milk the rest of the game, and played well enough to beat an inferior opponent.  Guess that means they get a pass in this one.


I'll let others who actually got to watch this game take it from here.  But as I dive into the La Salle preview, know this: La Salle is very much capable of taking the Cancun Challenge crown from Mizzou tonight if the Tigers don't play better than they have in about two and a half of their three games thus far.  This team still has quite a few more growing pains to suffer through, and while the end product might still be great, it might take a while before we see something resembling the end product.



AdjGS: a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds.  It takes points, assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls into account to determine an individual's "score" for a given game.  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.

Usage%: This "estimates the % of team possessions a player consumes while on the floor" (via).  The usage of those possessions is determined via a formula using field goal and free throw attempts, offensive rebounds, assists and turnovers.  The higher the number, the more prevalent a player is (good or bad) in a team's offensive outcome.  As you would expect, someone like Kim English has a high Usage%, while Steve Moore has an extremely low one.

Floor%: Via Floor % answers the question, "when Player X uses a possession, what is the probability that his team scores at least 1 point?".  The higher the Floor%, the more frequently the team probably scores when the given player is involved.

Touches/Possession: Using field goal attempts, free throw attempts, assists and turnovers, Touches attempt to estimate "the number of times a player touched the ball in an attacking position on the floor."  Take the estimated touches and divide it by the estimated number of possessions for which a player was on the court, and you get a rough idea of how many times a player touched the ball in a given possession.  For point guards, you'll see the number in the 3-4 range.  For shooting guards and wings, 2-3.  For Steve Moore, 1.30.  You get the idea.

Anyway, using the Touches figure, we can estimate the percentage of time a player "in an attacking position" passes, shoots, turns the ball over, or gets fouled.