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Mizzou Basketball: Taking A Quick Look Ahead To 2012-13

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Mizzou is 11-0, ranked in the top ten, and deep in preparation for Thursday night's Braggin' Rights contest. With so much to play for in the present tense, there is really no need to focus too much on the future. But Jabari Brown's commitment yesterday (the university made his transfer official this morning) more or less finalized the 2012-13 roster, and with so much turnover from this year to next year, it is worth hitting the pause button for a moment and looking ahead, if just for one post.

Now, things may not be completely finalized. The rumor is that Pitt transfer Khem Birch, a fellow five-star recruit in the 2011 class, may land in Columbia, too. If he were to join the squad, that means somebody currently associated with the program would have to leave. Either Shawn Smith, who committed to Mizzou but didn't sign (allegedly due to academics), would have to be discarded, or one of the current players would have to transfer. (The only possible candidate would have to be Kadeem Green, right? Surely the Phil Pressey transfer concerns have more than dissipated at this point.) I'll include him below, just in case.

In a given year, you typically say goodbye to three or four seniors (or fewer) and welcome as many newcomers. For Missouri, the change will be severe. Mizzou will say goodbye to one of its most memorable groups of seniors -- Marcus Denmon, Kim English, Ricardo Ratliffe, Matt Pressey, Steve Moore and permanent walk-on Jarrett Sutton -- and face a major rebuilding project; only three regulars (Mike Dixon, Phil Pressey, Kadeem Green) will play on the 2012-13 squad. Only, with the odd compilation of talent Frank Haith has put together, hope isn't necessarily lost. Earnest Ross, Auburn's leading scorer in 2010-11 will enter the fray, as will former Pepperdine star Keion Bell. Jabari Brown will join the squad after the first semester (and evidently Khem Birch might join him). Tony Criswell, who played at UAB for one year before transferring to Independence C.C., has signed as well. And, of course, the Party Starter himself, Laurence Bowers, will return.

So that's either eight or nine players with Division I basketball experience, even if only three are currently dressing out in black and gold. Throw in either four or five freshmen (depending on the status of Shawn Smith), and you've got an interesting, talented team with tons of unknowns.

While I know all of the moves that have taken place, I was struggling to keep things straight without listing them out. So after the jump, we'll look at all of next year's players; where there is relevant D1 experience to note, stats are listed.

(Note: I used Keion Bell's 2009-10 stats instead of 2010-11, basically, because I'm lazy. To get the AdjGS points you all know and love, you need team stats, and since Bell left the team midway through the season last year, their full-season stats only partially involved him. Last year's stats were much less favorable to Bell, so keep that in mind. And, of course, keep in mind that he played in the West Coast Conference. Because Birch and Brown played so few games, however, I was able to pull the limited team stats from their games. And to make the sample size a little larger, I included two exhibition games in Brown's stats. Yadda yadda yadda ... just keep in mind that Bell's and Brown's stats below might be better than they should be expected to produce here. This paragraph got much longer than intended. Moving along.)

Missouri (2012-13)

Player Season AdjGS*/
Phil Pressey (5'10, 175, Jr.)
28.9 MPG, 8.6 PPG (36% FG), 6.0 APG, 3.3 RPG, 2.3 SPG, 1.8 TOPG
Mike Dixon (6'1, 185, Sr.)
26.5 MPG, 12.6 PPG (44% FG), 3.2 APG, 2.4 RPG, 2.3 SPG, 1.5 TOPG
Laurence Bowers (6'8, 210, Sr.)
24.8 MPG, 11.6 PPG (53% FG), 6.1 RPG, 1.8 BPG, 1.4 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.4 TOPG
Earnest Ross (6'5, 222, Jr.)
31.8 MPG, 13.1 PPG (39% FG), 6.6 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.4 SPG, 2.3 TOPG
Khem Birch (6'9, 220, So.)
15.0 MPG, 4.4 PPG (57% FG), 5.0 RPG, 1.9 BPG
Keion Bell (6'3, 200, Sr.)
31.5 MPG, 18.5 PPG (43% FG), 5.1 RPG, 3.2 APG, 1.3 SPG, 3.9 TOPG
Jabari Brown (6'4, 205, So.)
23.8 MPG, 9.5 PPG (29% FG), 4.5 RPG, 1.8 APG, 4.8 TOPG
Kadeem Green (6'8, 210, So.)
11.5 MPG, 3.3 PPG (71% FG), 3.4 RPG
Tony Criswell (6'8, 230, Jr.)
14.2 MPG, 3.2 PPG (54% FG), 3.6 RPG
Stefan Jancovic (6'11, 225, Fr.)

Ryan Rosburg (6'10, 240, Fr.)

Dominique Bull (6'3, 215, Fr.)

Negus Webster-Chan (6'7, 195, Fr.)

Shawn Smith (6'3, 175, Fr.)

* AdjGS = a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds. It redistributes a team's points based not only on points scored, but also by giving credit for assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls. It is a stat intended to determine who had the biggest overall impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.

  • Highest Usage%: Bell (35%), Brown (31%), Dixon (24%), Ross (24%)
  • Highest Floor%: Bowers (45%), Green (45%), Pressey (43%), Dixon (43%)
  • Highest %Pass: Pressey (75%), Dixon (57%), Bell (50%), Criswell (50%)
  • Highest %Shoot: Birch (75%), Bowers (41%), Ross (41%), Bell (39%)
  • Highest %Fouled: Green (31%), Bowers (14%), Dixon (10%), Pressey/Birch (6%)
  • Highest %T/O: Brown (19%), Green (12%), Criswell (12%), Bell (10%)

Some thoughts:

  • One of this team's strengths has been the general sharing vibe. Nobody has a Usage Rate higher than 25% -- Denmon is 25%, Dixon 24%, English 23%, Ratliffe 23%. Denmon is the leader, but many different people can occupy quality possessions, and nobody does it too much. Two of next year's newcomers, Bell and Brown, had Usage Rates over 30%. With Phil Pressey running the point, that isn't going to happen. Bell and Brown could be two cogs of a rather hellacious second string, but how they fit in with Mizzou's primary returnees could be interesting. Maybe it will work out fine (especially after both of them have spent a year practicing with the team), but it is a question mark until proven otherwise.
  • On the other hand, it is difficult to imagine Ross not fitting in rather well. He is a good rebounder and a reasonably decent shooter, and even as Auburn's leading scorer last year, his usage rate was under 25%. He seems to have worked well within the flow of an offense, even though he was on a bad Auburn team, on which he probably could have taken as many shots as he wanted.
  • If Birch does not transfer to Mizzou, this is going to be a team quite thin on experienced size. (And even if he does transfer here, he isn't very experienced, and he wouldn't play until the fall semester ends.) Jancovic and Rosburg both provide nice size, but they will be freshmen; at best, only one of them will probably be ready to log solid minutes right out of the gates. So Mizzou will likely rolling out a four-guard lineup -- either by choice or by necessity -- quite a bit, especially early in the season. (Though with the success of this year's four-guard sets, it will be interesting to see how much of a permanent fixture it becomes with this team.)
  • In a four-guard set, I'm curious who fills which spot. You figure Ross and Webster-Chan will be serious candidates for the Kimmeh-esque No. 4 spot, but it wouldn't surprise me if someone more defense-oriented lines up as the No. 3 alongside Dixon and Pressey. I have no idea what Brown's defensive reputation is (Bell's either), but supposedly that is Dominique Bull's strength. If he is up to speed on that side of the ball, he might be able to pretty quickly play a Matt Pressey-esque role, playing solid defense and moving the ball while others shoulder the scoring load.
  • Khem Birch averaged 1.9 blocks in just 15 minutes per game at Pitt. I'm excited about this team without him, but ... let's just say that he would rather quickly be a welcome defensive presence.
  • Even without Birch, this team will have more flexibility, able to go with four guards for long stretches, or with a rather large lineup with Ross at the 3, Bowers at the 4, and either Rosburg or Jancovic at the 5.

Anyway, back to your regularly-scheduled drooling over 2011-12.