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Study Hall: La Salle

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Ahh, Mizzou fans. Never forgetting the big picture.

Your Trifecta: Denmon-Safford-Ratliffe.  Your winner: nobody!! Four people did have both Denmon and Ratliffe mentioned, however, so there's that.  And one person even had Denmon and Ratliffe in the right spots (with Bowers in between)!  But alas, no winner.

Mizzou 83, La Salle 71

Pace (No. of Possessions)
Points Per Minute
2.08 1.78
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.19 1.02
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.01 1.34
2-PT FG% 41.8% 55.0%
3-PT FG% 33.3% 46.2%
FT% 71.4% 56.3%
True Shooting % 47.1% 59.1%
Mizzou Opp.
Assists 17 14
Steals 10 2
Turnovers 6 19
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
4.50 0.84
Mizzou Opp.
Expected Offensive Rebounds 18 10
Offensive Rebounds 22 10
Difference +4 +0

For Better or Worse, a True Mizzou-Style Win

Mizzou forced a ton of turnovers, crushed their opponent in BCI, got somebody hot from 3-point range, and cruised to a double-digit win (while missing a ton of chip shots and not really getting to the line enough).  If we described every Mizzou win from the past four seasons in one sentence, a majority of them would be described exactly like that.  However, there is one bonus feature here that is very encouraging for the rest of the season: Mizzou dominated on the offensive glass.  Against a big La Salle team (albeit one that has struggled to keep teams from grabbing offensive rebounds), this was lovely to see, even if it's easier to rebound against a zone.  If Mizzou keeps that up and does two other things that I'll mention in a little bit (TEASE!), this season could end up as good as we've been hoping.  We'll see.

Other Tidbits:

  • This game was played at just below 70 possessions.  I didn't expect that.  Honestly, as I mentioned in Wednesday's preview, I expected closer to 80.  It started out that way, but it looks like Mizzou slowed the pace down as much as anything, and obviously it worked out for them.
  • 1.01 points per shot.  Not good.  Nor is a True Shooting % under 50%.
  • +4 in the Expected Off. Rebounds category.  Love that. Mizzou's average is +2.0 on the season, which is a welcome, welcome change.  (I'm nodding affirmatively in your direction, Ricardo Ratliffe and Laurence Bowers.)
  • I'll go out a limb and say that Mizzou is going to win most games in which they have a BCI of 4.5 or better and hold their opponents under 1.0.  Even with Kim English pulling a disappearing act.

Mizzou Player Stats - vs. La Salle

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Marcus Denmon 22.3 0.77 29 Min, 21 Pts (7-12 FG, 5-9 3PT), 4 Reb (2 Off), 2 Ast, 2 Stl, 2 TO
Justin Safford 13.9 0.66 21 Min, 11 Pts (5-8 FG), 6 Reb, 2 Ast
Ricardo Ratliffe 13.5 0.64 21 Min, 14 Pts (7-17 FG), 14 Reb (8 Off!), 4 PF
Matt Pressey 10.4 0.29 36 Min, 9 Pts (3-7 FG, 1-3 3PT), 4 Ast, 2 Reb
Steve Moore 6.5 0.81 8 Min, 2 Pts (1-1 FG), 2 Reb (2 Off), 2 Blk
Ricky Kreklow 5.9 0.85 7 Min, 6 Pts (2-3 3PT)
Laurence Bowers 5.3 0.18 30 Min, 10 Pts (3-8 FG, 4-6 FT), 2 Reb, 2 Stl, 2 TO, 4 PF
Mike Dixon 3.7 0.22 17 Min, 4 Pts (1-9 FG), 5 Ast, 3 Reb (2 Off), 2 Stl
Phil Pressey 1.5 0.07 23 Min, 6 Pts (3-14 FG), 3 Reb (2 Off), 2 Ast, 2 Stl
Kim English -2.5 -0.31 8 Min, 0 Pts (0-3 FG)


  • Marcus Denmon caught fire just in time, eh?  According to Tom Orf, Denmon now has more 3-pointers through four games (12) than any Mizzou player since Clarence Gilbert in 2001-02 (15).
  • Nice early boost from Justin Safford, who scored nine early points when nobody else could find the basket.  He really is a good early-half contributor.  He's really only an early-half contributor for one reason or another, but it's a nice piece to have, no?
  • Ricardo Ratliffe began the game 2-for-8 from the field, then finished 6-for-9.  Oh yeah, and he grabbed eight offensive rebounds!  Like Safford, he is not somebody through whom you can run an offense, but he is a lovely piece to have.
  • Matt Pressey: 36 minutes.  He covered well for the nonexistent English, even if I still don't think his ceiling is amazingly high.
  • Steve Moore is averaging 2.0 blocks per game in just over 12 minutes per contest.  STEEEEEEEEEEEEVE.
  • Wonderful late-1H boost from Ricky Kreklow, who hit two quick 3's and gave Mizzou a jolt.  Mizzou went up 41-36 on his second 3-ball (it capped a lovely 31-18 run over about 10 minutes) but couldn't score over the final 2:30 of the half and allowed La Salle to even things up.  Two steps forward, one step back with this team.
  • Fouls made Laurence Bowers invisible in this one, but he still managed to score 10 points thanks to decent free throw shooting here and there.
  • Mike Dixon and Phil Pressey: 4-for-23 shooting.  GGGGGH.  In 40 minutes, the two point guards otherwise put together a decent game -- 7 assists, 6 rebounds (4 offensive), 4 steals -- but man oh man, do their shots come and go.  And for Lil' Pressey, his shot hasn't been falling since the Arkansas-Ft. Smith exhibition.
  • Kim English.  Sigh.  We'll come back to him.
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Marcus Denmon 22% 49% 2.8 42% 43% 8% 7%
Justin Safford 16% 62% 2.7 60% 40% 0% 0%
Ricardo Ratliffe 34% 38% 3.1 26% 74% 0% 0%
Matt Pressey 10% 47% 2.8 68% 20% 12% 0%
Steve Moore 5% 100% 0.4 0% 100% 0% 0%
Ricky Kreklow 18% 62% 1.2 0% 100% 0% 0%
Laurence Bowers 18% 34% 2.1 26% 36% 29% 9%
Mike Dixon 27% 28% 7.0 71% 22% 5% 2%
Phil Pressey 26% 23% 3.2 46% 54% 0% 0%
Kim English 16% 0% 1.1 0% 100% 0% 0%
  • I somewhat got what what I wanted in this game: a clear pecking order in terms of Usage%.  Ratliffe was out in front at 34%, though that is a little misleading -- he didn't exactly dominate the flow of the offense as much as he just grabbed a lot of second-chance opportunities.  Next up on the Usage% list: Mizzou's point guards.  Hmm.  I'm still not getting what I want here, especially not with Floor%'s under 30% from them.
  • Also from the Not Getting What I Want department: two players above 10% fouled?  And only four fouled at all?  Really?  Ricardo Ratliffe is fascinating in this department; I'll get to him again in a moment.
  • From the Glad To See It department: nobody over 10% turnovers.  Only two over 5%.  Mizzou's point guards both coming in at 2% or less.  Mizzou will win a lot of games with that.
  • Kim English: not only not making shots, but apparently afraid to do anything aggressive with the ball.

Now let's look at some season-to-date numbers.

Mizzou Stats - 2010-11 (4 games)

Pace (No. of Possessions)
Points Per Minute
1.98 1.58
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.08 0.86
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.15 1.21
2-PT FG% 46.7% 48.3%
3-PT FG% 34.1% 31.7%
FT% 65.0% 63.4%
True Shooting % 51.1% 51.6%

Mizzou Opp.
Assists/Gm 17.3 11.0
Steals/Gm 10.8 5.8
Turnovers/Gm 13.8 22.0
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.04 0.76

Mizzou Opp.
Expected Off. Rebounds/Gm 15.0 11.8
Offensive Rebounds/Gm 17.0 9.5
Difference +2.0 -2.3

What's Going Well:

  • Pace. It's right where you want it to be for Mizzou (despite the Western Illinois game).
  • FT%.  It's not good (65%), but it's at 72% since the Western Illinois game.
  • Assists.  It could be higher, but I'll never complain about anything over 17/game.
  • Steals.  Double-digit steals is phenomenal.  Like I said before, we may have offensive issues to deal with, but signs point to this possibly becoming Mike Anderson's best defensive team here, even taking La Salle's first half into account.
  • REBOUNDING, REBOUNDING, REBOUNDING.  Mizzou took on back-to-back big teams in Wyoming and La Salle -- this accounts for half their season to date -- but they are at +4.3 per game in the Expected Rebounds department.  That is wonderful.  Ricardo Ratliffe may not be the amazing 22&12 guy that some maybe hoped he would become, but I mentioned when he signed that we didn't need that.  We just need a potential 12&9 guy.  It very much looks like that is a realistic possibility.  Now he just needs to really, really stop with the no-look shots.

What's Not Going As Well

  • Everything Else Related to Offense.  The turnovers are too high, but that ties mostly back to one poor game (Wyoming).  Mizzou has averaged under 12 turnovers in the other games, which isn't great but isn't terrible.  What really isn't going well?  Shooting.  Of all kinds.  Like I said, I'm giving the FT% a pass for now, but if you take Marcus Denmon out of the equation, Mizzou is 19-for-67 on 3-pointers.  That's a robust 28%.  Kim English: 25%.  Mike Dixon: 29%.  Phil Pressey: 17%.  Matt Pressey: 22%.  Terrible.  That wouldn't be as big a deal if people were making shorter shots.  Instead, only Moore (80%), Ratliffe (54%), English (50%) and Kreklow (50% ... in two shots) are hitting even half of their 2-pointers.  Bowers is at 49%, Safford 41%.  That's awful and has to change.  Remember last year, when we knew that poor shooting was Achilles heel and would eventually doom them?  It's shaping up exactly the same this year.  You can still be a good team with a demonstrable Achilles heel -- all but the very, very best teams have one -- but it will eventually doom you.
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Marcus Denmon 12.3 0.44 28.0 MPG, 14.3 PPG (50.0% 3PT), 2.5 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.5 SPG, 1.8 TOPG
Mike Dixon 10.9 0.54 20.3 MPG, 9.3 PPG (35.7% FG), 4.0 APG, 2.8 RPG, 2.5 SPG, 1.5 TOPG
Laurence Bowers 10.7 0.43 25.0 MPG, 10.8 PPG (45.7% FG, 68.8% FT), 7.3 RPG, 2.0 BPG, 1.3 APG, 2.3 TOPG
Ricardo Ratliffe 10.4 0.48 21.8 MPG, 11.0 PPG (53.7% 2PT), 9.5 RPG (3.5 OFF)
Kim English 6.8 0.31 22.0 MPG, 8.0 PPG (36.7% FG, 25.0% 3PT), 3.5 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.8 SPG, 2.3 TOPG
Justin Safford 6.6 0.33 19.8 MPG, 7.5 PPG (44.8% FG), 4.3 RPG
Steve Moore 5.7 0.45 12.8 MPG, 2.8 PPG (80% FG), 3.5 RPG, 2.0 BPG
Phil Pressey 5.5 0.25 21.5 MPG, 6.3 PPG (28.6% FG, 16.7% 3PT), 3.3 APG, 3.3 RPG, 2.3 SPG, 3.0 TOPG
John Underwood 4.5 1.14 1 game
Matt Pressey 4.2 0.23 18.0 MPG, 5.0 PPG (30.4% FG), 2.3 APG, 1.3 SPG
Jarrett Sutton 2.8 2.83 1 game
Ricky Kreklow 2.5 0.25 9.8 MPG, 3.0 PPG (50.0% FG), 1.3 RPG

Looking at player averages after four games is both fun and rather pointless -- one great or terrible game can change things significantly.  But it still bears mentioning that 1) Steve Moore is averaging 2.0 blocks in 12.8 minutes, 2) Bowers and Ratliffe are both over 7 rebounds per game, 3) Dixon and Pressey are both over 2 steals per game (and Pressey is only at 1.7 turnovers per game minutes the North Florida outlier), 4) Marcus Denmon is making 50% of his 3-pointers, and of course, 5) Mizzou is 4-0.  It's a lot easier to work through kinks when you keep winning.

Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Marcus Denmon 21% 39% 2.2 39% 47% 6% 8%
Mike Dixon 22% 41% 4.8 66% 20% 10% 4%
Laurence Bowers 22% 37% 2.4 34% 40% 16% 10%
Ricardo Ratliffe 23% 44% 2.0 27% 67% 3% 3%
Kim English 22% 31% 3.0 49% 31% 11% 9%
Justin Safford 18% 39% 1.8 34% 55% 7% 4%
Steve Moore 6% 62% 1.4 67% 19% 10% 4%
Phil Pressey 23% 29% 4.0 61% 22% 7% 10%
John Underwood 21% 62% 1.9 0% 36% 64% 0%
Matt Pressey 18% 33% 3.3 61% 27% 7% 5%
Jarrett Sutton 88% 44% 5.4 0% 100% 0% 0%
Ricky Kreklow 12% 41% 2.0 60% 27% 6% 7%
  • I obviously don't have Usage stats handy for the rest of the country, but if I did I'm pretty sure I would see that Mizzou has some of the most amazing balance in the country in this regard.  I'm not saying that as a purely good thing, but ... damn.  Nobody not named Jarrett Sutton is over 23%, and nobody not named STEEEEEEEEEVE or Kreklow is under 18%.  When things are clicking, that's called "balance"; when things are not, that's called "lack of direction."
  • Ricardo Ratliffe has attempted two free throws in four games. How ... how?  How does that happen?  He takes almost all of his shots within three feet of the basket and grabs over three offensive rebounds per game.  And he has gone to the line twice.  I honestly don't know how that's possible. Somebody explain this to me.

Alright, now to Mr. English.  This team is developing some perfect role players.  Dixon and Pressey, while hot-and-cold from the field, are showing exactly the type of Pass-Shoot splits you would want to see from a point guard (though both can occasionally shoot too much, especially the freshman).  Ratliffe is the putback-and-score guy.  Bowers is the jack of all trades.  Safford is the "early buckets" guy.  Matt Pressey seems like at least a decent scoring option for the second team.  Kreklow is what Steve Moore would be if Steve Moore were a shooting guard, in that he does a couple of things that a player of his position needs to do, hustles like hell, and often completely disappears offensively.

But unless Marcus Denmon can consistently do what he did in Cancun, this team lacks something very important: a go-to scoring option.  (And even if Denmon were to become what he was in Cancun, he's still primarily a 3-point weapon -- 56% of his shots are 3's, he doesn't get to the line, and he's only shooting 42% on 2-pointers.)  When he's truly into the game, Kim English is all of the things this team needs.  He is a potential asset from long range, and all we read about this summer was how he tirelessly worked on his mid-range jumper and body control.  The goal was to master the art of easy points -- the Derrick Chievous Ch'i, so to speak.  And in four games against mostly inferior competition, English has scored a grand total of 32 points in 30 field goal attempts.  He is neither shooting efficiently ... or even shooting.  (As means of comparison, Justin Safford has attempted one fewer shot in nine fewer minutes.)  He did well in terms of overall box score contribution against Wyoming, and that's important, but he just doesn't look confident at all.  He is almost everything Mizzou is missing right now, and until he has a few breakout games, I am assigning him a permanent spot in the Three Keys to the Game list.

Three Keys Revisited

From Wednesday's preview.

Deny, Deny, Deny

Aaric Murray and Jerrell Williams were a combined 9-for-18 and went just 2-for-5 from the line.  They also committed six turnovers.  That was huge.  La Salle's starting guards had a nice game, Ruben Guillendeaux and Earl Pettis, had nice games (11-for-17, 26 points), probably due in part to Mizzou's focus on the bigs, but it worked out for them in the end.

Crash the Boards

They did that.  And it was great to see.

Use Your Head

The idea here was that Mizzou did Wyoming a ton of favors with turnovers, and they needed to be smarter with the ball.  Seventeen assists and six turnovers later, I think we can safely say Mizzou was smart with the ball.  The wrong people took too many shots, but that's a different issue altogether.


I really wasn't amazingly optimistic about this game.  Mizzou had been playing like a team that was itching to get upset, and when the Explorers went up 18-10, I began to somewhat expect the worst.  Instead, Mizzou outscored La Salle 73-55 the rest of the game and won going away.  In that sense, this was a great win even though there are still issues to address.  After a tune-up against UA-Pine Bluff on Sunday, it's time to prepare for the first huge game of the non-conference season: Georgetown in Kansas City on Tuesday.  Kim English, paging Kim English.  Your moment is coming soon.



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.