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2009-10 Season Wrap-up (Part One): The Team Stats

With Mizzou's 2009-10 basketball season over, it's time for a series of Season Wrap-Up posts summarizing what went well, what didn't go well, and what to expect in 2010-11, both from Mizzou and the Big 12 as a whole.  First up, of course, is a look at how the season played out statistically.  We'll look at 2009-10 stats and compare them to years past..  Let's get started!

Mizzou 2009-10 vs Mizzou 2008-09

2009-10 2008-09
MU Opp
Points Per Minute
2.04 1.69
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.14 0.95
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.30 1.20
2-PT FG% 47.6%
52.7% 46.8%
3-PT FG% 36.8%
35.3% 30.3%
FT% 72.4%
67.2% 67.4%
True Shooting % 54.3%
56.1% 50.9%
MU Opp MU Opp
Assists/Gm 15.2
18.4 11.9
Steals/Gm 10.9
10.2 6.2
Turnovers/Gm 12.7
11.8 18.3
Ball Control Index
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.42 0.99
MU Opp MU Opp
Expected Offensive Rebounds/Gm 13.2 12.7 12.9 12.9
Offensive Rebounds/Gm 13.1 13.6 12.8 12.7
Difference -0.1 +0.9 -0.1 -0.2

Where the Tigers got worse in 2009-10

Defensive Rebounding

Image via The Missourian

We knew Mizzou would miss the offense that DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons brought to the table in 2008-09, but the impact felt on the defensive glass was potentially just as important.  Mizzou was equally effective on the offensive glass, but on defense, they regressed by 1.1 rebounds per game.  That really isn't a tremendous amount, but over the course of a season, that can obviously add up.

To illustrate who  was seemingly most responsible for the regression, we're going to use a stat called Defensive Rebounding %, which is simply the percentage of available rebounds one grabbed when they were on the court.  DeMarre Carroll's DR% in 2008-09 was 0.19, and Leo Lyons' was 0.18, meaning they grabbed 19% and 18% of the available rebounds, respectively.  Mizzou's top three defensive rebounders in 2009-10 were Laurence Bowers (0.16), Justin Safford (0.15) and Keith Ramsey (0.14).  Rebounding from the guard position actually improved (Marcus Denmon grabbed an impressive 0.11, while J.T. Tiller and Zaire Taylor were both at 0.09), but as you see, Bowers, Safford and Ramsey were slightly worse than Carroll and Lyons -- worse enough to make a difference of 1-2 boards a night.

2-Point Shooting

Image via The Trib

After the shooting debacle against West Virginia, this category is probably fresh in everybody's minds.  However, while Laurence Bowers and Keith Ramsey were responsible for a large portion of Sunday's near-the-hoop misses, they are not to blame for the season's failures.  In 2008-09, DeMarre Carroll shot 57.9% on 2-pointers, Leo Lyons 49.9%.  In 2009-10, Bowers shot 57.2%, Ramsey 58.0%.  Bowers stayed close to the 58.7% he managed in 2008-09, while Ramsey inevitably regressed a bit from his 67.5% of last year -- just from taking more shots, he was going to slide from that high number.

No, Bowers and Ramsey weren't to blame for regression here -- everybody else was.  Sliding into more of Matt Lawrence's role, Kim English shot 41.3% on 2-pointers in 2009-10.  In 2008-09, Lawrence shot 61.9% (English, meanwhile, shot 40.2% last year).  J.T. Tiller regressed from 51.0% to 46.0%, while Zaire Taylor regressed significantly, from 50.4% to a measly 36.8%.  Justin Safford regressed with more playing time, from 51.4% in 2008-09 to 41.8% this season.

What caused this regression?  Potentially the same thing that caused the team's reduction in assists.  Mizzou did not play as high a pace in 2009-10, partially because of trouble on offense and partially because they struggled on defensive rebounding and often needed the guards to stay back and rebound instead of breaking out in transition.  With less transition came less easy buckets.  It's a vicious cycle here -- rebounding, transition, shooting skill ... about 17 different factors played into this, but the bottom line was that Mizzou's 2PT% went down, and it will need to go back up in 2010-11.  Improve in any of those 17 hypothetical categories, and 2PT% should improve at least a little bit.


Image via The Trib

The 2009-10 Tiger offense turned the ball over about one more time per game than its predecessor.  Not a large increase, obviously, but over time that one possession per game can mean quite a bit.    Who was responsible for this increase?  More than anybody else, look to two seniors.  With no extra ball-handling responsibility, J.T. Tiller's turnovers increased by 50%, from 0.18 turnovers per possession in 2008-09 to 0.27 this year.  He got things under control a decent amount as the season progressed, but that is still a significant increase.

Keith Ramsey was also a major culprit in the turnovers increase -- not only did his minutes and touches increase (13.7 MPG and 8.8 'touches' per game* last year to 26.9 MPG and 16.1 'touches' in 2009-10), but his turnover rate did at a similar rate as well -- from 0.12 turnovers per possession to 0.19.

In all, Tiller and Ramsey increased from combining for 2.2 turnovers per game to 4.0, and even though other players like Bowers and Denmon were less turnover-prone than their predecessors, Tiller's and Ramsey's increase negated any gain at other positions.

* 'Touches' are a stat (described here) that I wanted to introduce at the beginning of the season but didn't.  They are defined as an estimate of "the number of times a player touched the ball in an attacking position on the floor," and they are derived from a formula based on assists, turnovers, field goal attempts and free throw attempts. Obviously a player will literally "touch" a ball more than this formula implies, but the goal here is to measure how many times a player touched the ball in position to do something aggressive. It's a pretty sweet stat -- from Touches, we can derive the percentage of time that a player made a good pass, turned the ball over, shot the ball, or got fouled. We will get into this stat more in Part Two of the wrap-up.


Image via The Trib

Mizzou averaged 2.8 fewer assists per game in 2009-10 than the previous season -- by far the biggest reason for their decrease in BCI.  As I hinted above, I think this was more of a systemic issue than it was due to any one player.  Mizzou did lose two strong interior passers (Carroll and Lyons combined for 4.2 assists per game in 2008-09, while Bowers, Ramsey AND Safford only managed 3.8 in 2009-10), but guards' assist rates sank as well.  J.T. Tiller fell from 0.15 assists per possession to 0.13, Zaire Taylor from 0.13 to 0.09, and Kim English from 0.08 to 0.05.  In all, only Miguel Paul's assist rate didn't fall in 2009-10, but his minutes were obviously not significant enough to reflect much in Mizzou's overall numbers.

In all, I think the trailing off of assists speaks to the two main problems we knew this team might have coming into the season: scoring and rebounding.  We had less overall offensive talent on this squad without Lyons, Carroll and Goooooooooooose, and that meant that, among other things, even if there's a perfect pass, the shot might not go in.  Add that to the fact that, with 1-2 fewer defensive rebounds a night, that mean fewer transition and outlet passes (and, after Mizzou slowed down and crashed the boards with more players to alleviate that problem, almost no transition and outlet passes), Mizzou was simply getting less opportunities for easy shots.  It was all connected, and while maybe the overall passing talent on this team wasn't what it was in 2008-09, I don't think that's the case.  I think the assist totals were more likely the result of other issues.

Where the Tigers got better

Yes, Mizzou was a worse overall team in 2009-10 than in 2008-09.  That was almost unavoidable.  However, there was improvement in some facets of the game, and all three areas below forecast well for the future.

Forcing Turnovers

Image via The Trib

Despite the fewer rebounds (or, in a roundabout way, maybe because of them), Mizzou forced more turnovers this season.  Here is a look at Mizzou's top eight regulars from this season and last, and their Steals Per Possession:

Steals Per Possession
J.T. Tiller 0.20
DeMarre Carroll 0.16
Zaire Taylor 0.15
Marcus Denmon 0.15
Keith Ramsey 0.13
Leo Lyons 0.12
Matt Lawrence 0.12
Kim English 0.10
Zaire Taylor 0.20
J.T. Tiller 0.19
Keith Ramsey 0.17
Mike Dixon 0.17
Kim English 0.16
Laurence Bowers 0.14
Marcus Denmon 0.12
Justin Safford 0.12

Two of the three new members of the 2009-10 rotation were better thieves than their predecessors (Bowers > Lyons, Dixon > Lawrence), and Taylor, Ramsey and English all improved considerably with another year under their belt.  Mizzou's top three per-possession steals leaders from 2009-10 are gone in 2010-11, but it certainly doesn't seem unheard of that Bowers, Denmon, and maybe others will improve their hands in 2010-11 -- this seems like an area where year-to-year improvement is relatively common.

(And hey, if they only tread water in this regard while grabbing a couple more defensive rebounds, that's fine too.)

3-Point Shooting

Image via The Trib

Here's a category where Mizzou saw slight improvement.  Some shooters stayed basically the same -- Kim English went from 37.3% in 2008-09 to 37.0% in 2009-10, J.T. Tiller went from 23.6% to 22.5%, and even Mizzou's bigs stayed the same, shooting 39.6% in 2008-09 (Carroll, Lyons, Ramsey, Safford, Bowers) and 40.3% in 2009-10 (Bowers, Safford, Ramsey, Moore).

The main reason for improvement was Marcus Denmon.  He shot 30.4% last season, and even with his massive trail-off at the end of the season, he still shot 40.7% this season.  That meant that Mizzou's three most frequent 3-pointer shooters improved from combining for 37.3% last season (Lawrence, Denmon, English) to 38.1% this year (English, Denmon, Taylor).  Teeny, tiny, incremental improvement ... but improvement!  And it obviously would have been significantly higher had Denmon not finished the season missing 14 of his last 15 bombs -- until that slump, he'd been shooting 44.1%.

Free Throw Shooting

Image via The Trib.  And no, it really doesn't have anything to do with FT shooting.

An improvement of 1.5% isn't enough for you?  Well how about a 5.2 improvement?  That's how much Mizzou progressed from the charity stripe in 2009-10, from 67.2% to 72.4%.  (Despite what you may want to believe after the WVU game, Mizzou really was improved from the charity stripe this year.)  Keith Ramsey improved from 35.9% to 64.5%, while Justin Safford improved even more, from 44.4% to 75.8%.  Plus, newbie Mike Dixon entered the grid at 85.7%.  Mizzou's most frequent free throws shooters stayed about the same -- Kim English went from 72.4% to 72.5%, J.T. Tiller from 73.3% to 76.5%, Laurence Bowers from 66.7% to 65.1% -- but Ramsey and Safford dragged Mizzou forward.

Of course, this improvement reveals a regression (don't you hate it when that happens?) -- Mizzou made 871 trips to the line in 2008-09, a rate of 22.9 FT attempts per game.  In 2009-10, that fell to 21.0.  Again, not a huge regression, but over the course of, say, 34 games, that's 65 fewer opportunities for free points.  Last year, Carroll and Lyons combined for 436 FT attempts.  The two main bigs this year -- Bowers and Ramsey -- managed just 145 this year.  HUGE difference.

Remember the "Touches" stat I introduced earlier, and how I said it allowed you to estimate how many of Mizzou's touches were good passes versus shots?  Well, in 2008-09, Mizzou made passes 53.7% of the time, shot 31.0% of the time.  In 2009-10, they passed 48.9% of the time, shot 33.9%.  So at least a couple of times a game, they were shooting instead of passing.  Combined with the fact that 33% of Mizzou's shots were 3-pointers this year (compared to 31% a year ago), you can start to see how maybe Mizzou got fouled a hair less, at least in the act of shooting.  Mizzou sought contact less, especially on the interior, and it cost them at least a couple of opportunities at free points each game.

(Not surprisingly, Mizzou was a whopping 13-1 this season when that %Pass figure went above 50.0%.  Some of that, again, is from easy scoring opportunities, but some of it really may have simply been less passing, more jump-shooting.)

Shot Blocking

Image via The Missourian

From 3.7 per game a year ago to 4.7 this year.  Bowers had 48, Ramsey 38, and Mr. Rec Specs 31.

Year-to-Year Ken Pomeroy Stats

To close, I thought it might be fun to take a look at Mizzou's stats for this season as compared to other seasons in the Mike Anderson era.

2009-10 2008-09 2007-08 2006-07
Pace 55 21 34 11
Mizzou Offense Ranks
2009-10 2008-09 2007-08 2006-07
Efficiency 43 8 41 56
Effective FG% 105 47 137 64
Turnover % 42 6 19 105
Off. Reb. % 126 116 219 243
FTA/FGA 269 172 297 277
Mizzou Defense Ranks
2009-10 2008-09 2007-08 2006-07
Efficiency 17 13 70 73
Effective FG% 50 53 115 161
Turnover % 3 10 65 12
Off. Reb. % 329 248 274 224
FTA/FGA 206 253 293 268

This was by far the slowest-moving Mizzou team Mike Anderson has had, for a variety of reasons discussed in this post and others.  It was basically the 2007-08 team on offense, the 2008-09 team on defense.  Of course, the offensive regression made a boatload of difference.  This team was worse shooting and turning the ball over than either of the last two squads, though they were almost as good at offensive rebounding as they were last year.  They didn't draw enough fouls ... but they rarely have.

On defense, Mizzou forced turnovers at their highest rate yet and posted their best eFG% numbers as well.  They also fouled less than any other Anderson team has here.  Of course, the regression on the defensive glass negated the improvement in other areas.

Next up: Individual stats, and what mattered most to Mizzou.