Part One: The Sudden Spotlight
Going to take a look at a handful of stats concerning Ricardo, today. (Thanks, Bill C for instilling in all of us the need to, you know, prove our sports opinions. Sigh.) We even have an in-game stat line, folks. Which means real games that count are right around the corner. Granted, its from the Annual Black & Gold Game (Tigers’ intramural preseason warmup), but it provides a glimpse of the non-Party-Starting frontcourt.
Ricardo's line: 8-of-11 from the floor, 20 points, perfect from the stripe and 6 boards (one offensive). That may be a tad points-heavy and rebounds-light for the casual Mizzou fan’s assessment of team needs. However, when you look up and down the stat sheet, it becomes fairly evident that this year's squad is going to highlight rebounding by committee. And Ricardo pouring in 20 from the paint might be just what the doctor ordered for a team that could struggle to find its (new) identity through the non-conference slate.
To add to our prognostication of what this "new" staff might be able to get out of all of the "old" starters. Let’s take a look at, and compare, two sets of stats from last year:
First, obviously, your 2010-11 Missouri Tigers. Ricardo and Laurence Bowers combined for 22 points and 12 boards a game. Now, in ex-Head Coach Mike Anderson’s system, Ricardo was basically an underheighted 5, and Bowers was a underweighted 4; this means the Tigers played with a 1, a 2, a 3 (who thought he was a two and had an off-season) and two 4.5’s. The wings averaged 27 and 6 (combined).
Now, compare that to Frank Haith’s Miami Hurricane team. They most certainly had a "5" on the floor. 6’10, 280lb Reggie Johnson averaged 12 points and almost 10 rebounds per game by himself. However when you add in their starting "4", they combined to average 21 and 13 per game. Eerily similar. Their wings averaged 21 and 8 (combined). So what have we learned? That in mid-tier high-major-conference basketball: 4.5 + 4.5 and 4 + 5 BOTH equal 9. It will be interesting to see how the slower pace and structure that Haith, Fuller and Nestor bring with them, affects Ricardo's numbers. Hopefully they have a positive impact.
So when one looks at the 2011-12 Missouri Tigers, especially without Laurence Bowers, it doesn’t appear to be much of a stretch to guess that Ricardo slots in as one of the most important pieces in filling up the stat sheet. No matter how much Haith and his staff push the concept of "team rebounding" it is going to be imperative for Ratliffe, Green and Moore to pull their weight. Ricardo is going to get all the minutes he can handle, and the impetus will be on limiting possessions for their opponent, and continuing his high percentage shooting ways (57% last year) on offense. That’s a recipe for success for this year’s Tiger team.