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Study Hall: Norfolk State 86, Missouri 84

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Your Trifecta: PPressey-Dixon-Denmon. Your winner: nobody. As it should be.

We'll go ahead and dump in all relevant links here, too, just to make it one huge "picking the scab" experience. "Shocked" ... "stunned" ... "stunned" ... "shocked" ... the loss was so unexpected that even headline writers were at a loss for creativity...

  • Mizzou Drops 86-84 NCAA Contest to Norfolk State
  • The Trib: Norfolk State stuns second-seeded Missouri
    The Trib: Kyle O'Quinn has become Kansas' favorite adopted son
    The Trib: Season ends too soon for MU basketball fans
    The Trib (Joe Walljasper): End of an amazing journey is just a wreck

    This sport is all about March. Everything that leads up to now is the back story. The conference seasons are great, the conference tournaments are entertaining but the defining moments are what happen in the NCAA Tournament.

    The Tigers didn't have to win it all to validate themselves, didn't even have to make it to the Final Four — although President Barack Obama forwarded them to New Orleans in his bracket — but they couldn't do this.

    Missouri isn't Duke, where these opportunities roll around every year and the rafters are overflowing with championship banners. At Missouri, where legitimate chances to make that elusive first Final Four are once-in-a-decade occurrences, to bow out in the first game is an epic waste. […]

    The Tigers will be judged as tournament flops based on expectations they inflated way beyond what was projected in the preseason. They spent four months proving that what they had (quickness, smarts) was more important than what they didn't (size, depth). The senior class won more games than any other group in school history.

    It was an amazing ride, but there is the matter of the crash.

  • The Missourian: Missouri stunned by Norfolk State
    The Missourian: How Norfolk State upset Missouri in NCAA Tournament
    The Missourian: Omaha crowd propels Norfolk State in Missouri's loss
    The Missourian: PHOTO GALLERY: Missouri shocked by Norfolk State
  • KC Star: Mizzou shocked by Norfolk State 86-84
    KC Star: Tigers clawed back but couldn't get ahead
    KC Star: MU notebook | English struggles
    KC Star: Norfolk State had a belief, and a plan
    KC Star: Joy, pain, spill into streets of Omaha after upset
    KC Star (Sam Mellinger): Historic upset brings highs, lows that will linger for years
    KC Star: Missouri season in review
    KC Star: Missouri loss shortchanges Big 12
  • Post-Dispatch: Norfolk State shocks Mizzou 86-84
    Post-Dispatch: Mizzou hurt on boards in defeat
    Post-Dispatch: Shock and dismay for Mizzou
    Post-Dispatch: Norfolk State delirious after beating MU
    Post-Dispatch (Bryan Burwell): Mizzou misery, Norfolk elation show it's March

    With his eyes bright red from tears he'd already shed, English sat in the far corner of the locker room on Friday night and answered every question fired at him. He broke down all the basketball. He sorted through all his emotions, too. But midway through the second wave of reporters to surround him, English leaned back and let out a groan that truly told you how hard this was all going down.

    "Awwwwhhh," he said, tilting his head back against the wall and closing his eyes for a split second of sheer agony. He bit down on his lip. He shook his head. You could almost imagine the flashes of his basketball life that were whirling around in his head at that moment.

    "I bled, I sweat and I cried for these six letters on the front of my jersey," he said. "I came here with aspirations of helping to take this basketball program from the dumps and trying to take it somewhere our fans couldn't fathom. And we tried, we fought and we fought for four years." [...]

    It came down to a buzzer beater that didn't fall, and when Phil Pressey's 3-pointer missed, it sent the arena into a frenzy, with all these Kansas and Florida fans celebrating too.

    But it also left the Tigers slumped and in tears.

    "I was thinking about how much hard work we put in," said Pressey. "Six straight months of staying after late, doing the extra stuff, grinding just to win a national championship and it hurts to see that all the work we put in was useless because we lost."

  • PowerMizzou: Tigers shocked by Spartans
    PowerMizzou: One and Done
    PowerMizzou: PHOTOS: The Baseline View
    PowerMizzou: PMTV-HD: Omaha Nightmare
  • Fox Sports MW: No. 2 seed Missouri stunned by No. 15 Norfolk St
    Fox Sports MW: Memorable season cut short for Missouri
  • KBIA Sports Extra: Mizzou's storybook season comes to a shocking end in NCAA Tournament
  • Rapid Reaction: Norfolk St. 86, Missouri 84 Norfolk State's win a statistical shocker
  • The Dagger: Shock: No. 15 Norfolk State upsets No. 2 Missouri
  • SB Nation KC: VIDEO: Missouri's Final Play Against Norfolk State

And, of course, one more special link. The video has been removed, but ... the video clearly existed.

  • The Dagger: Kansas AD calls Missouri's loss 'karma, karma, karma'

It's one thing for fans of now-former conference rivals to feel this way about Missouri's loss. Obviously they are going to take pleasure in it just as Missouri fans would if in the same shoes. (In fact, I'm pretty sure we did with random Nebraska losses.) It is to be expected. But ... it is just slightly different for actual athletic administrators to say the same thing in a public setting. One can understand how FOIA requests might turn up some embarrassing material -- it is quite easy to forget how public an e-mail can end up as you're sending it -- but to actually say things like this in public, like you're just some silly fan? Yikes. As RPT mentioned in comments earlier today, Mike Alden would have become a folk hero if he had said something snide and catty after some Nebraska loss last year. But he didn't. (Then again, Jay Nixon, of course, might have; and it would have incredibly embarrassing. But that's kind of his M.O.)

And just think about what Zenger may have said if he were talking about an actual rival that they actually cared about, huh?

Anyhoo, time for some actual stats.

Norfolk State 86, Missouri 84

Pace (No. of Possessions) 63.9
Points Per Minute 2.10 2.15
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.31 1.35
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.53 1.46
2-PT FG% 61.5% 55.0%
3-PT FG% 44.8% 52.6%
FT% 76.5% 66.7%
True Shooting % 67.2% 64.3%
Mizzou NSU
Assists 15 14
Steals 6 2
Turnovers 8 11
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.63 1.45
Mizzou NSU
Expected Offensive Rebounds 10 11
Offensive Rebounds 7 14
Difference -3 +3


The theme before the season began was that, when Mizzou lost, it was probably going to be because of depth, size and the lack thereof. And to be sure, Mizzou certainly struggled on the glass (three Texas games) and with depth (at Kansas). But we had been hinting for a while that Mizzou's fatal flaw may not be either one of those things. Mizzou beat 22 "real" teams this year (I always define "real" as major conference teams, solid mid-majors, anybody on the road, or anybody faced in the postseason) and lost to five. Here are some averages:

  • Expected Rebounds
    Wins: Mizzou -1.1
    Losses: Mizzou -1.8
  • Fouls
    Wins: Mizzou 13.8, Opponents 18.7
    Losses: Mizzou 19.6, Opponents 17.2
  • 2-Point Shooting
    Wins: Mizzou 57.7%, Opponents 45.9%
    Losses: Opponents 54.9%, Mizzou 48.5%
  • 3-Point Shooting
    Wins: Mizzou 41.2%, Opponents 37.1%
    Losses: Opponents 47.2%, Mizzou 33.9%
  • True Shooting %
    Wins: Mizzou 63.1%, Opponents 52.4%
    Losses: Opponents 62.2%, Mizzou 54.7%
  • Points Per Possession
    Wins: Mizzou 1.23, Opponents 1.02
    Losses: Opponents 1.21, Mizzou 1.10

Mizzou actually stole the ball more times in wins (7.8 versus 7.3) and turned the ball over almost exactly the same amount (10.5 versus 10.4), but most of the time Missouri's games versus real opponents were decided simply by shooting. There were certainly occasional rebounding glitches (the final minute versus NSU being the most obvious example), but Mizzou outrebounded Oklahoma State in Stillwater and basically split on the glass with Kansas (in Lawrence) and Kansas State (in Manhattan). The only losses with serious rebounding margins were at Kansas State (-7) and versus Norfolk State (-6). The most direct determining factor in whether Mizzou won or lost came with how opponents shot the ball.

  • Kansas State -- Season 3-Point Shooting: 33.5% | Wins versus Missouri: 47.6% (10-for-21) | Difference: +14.1%
  • Oklahoma State -- Season 3-Point Shooting: 33.3% | Win versus Missouri: 38.5% (5-for-13) | Difference: +5.2% (OSU's percentage was skewed, obviously, by the three consecutive 3-pointers made by Le'Bryan Nash during the Cowboys' key run)
  • Kansas -- Season 3-Point Shooting: 35.7% | Win versus Missouri: 47.4% (9-for-19) | Difference: +11.7%
  • Norfolk State -- Season 3-Point Shooting: 31.8% | Win versus Missouri: 52.6% (10-for-19) | Difference: +20.8%

Mizzou went 30-5 because the Tigers could almost always win the shooting battle; and technically speaking, they did on Friday, too. But Norfolk State shot over 20 percent better than their season average from 3-point range. That garnered them 12 extra points ... in a game they won by two.

We'll get to Mizzou's perimeter issues in the season post-mortem series -- one that will begin a couple of weeks earlier than we had hoped -- but the bottom line is, Mizzou's perimeter defense stunk in 2011-12. As we've discussed in recent weeks, it is difficult to define quality versus luck when it comes to perimeter defense (Ken Pomeroy's research has shown that 3-point shooting is a lot more random and defense-independent than we would anticipate), but there is no ignoring that one number in this chart stands out above all others ($).

Mizzou had the best offense in the country and averaged 1.31 points per possession against a team they were favored to beat by over 20. But yet another team shot well over its season average from long range, and it ended Mizzou's tourney stay a lot earlier than anybody anticipated. And it simply can't be entirely based on bad luck, even though some of the shots NSU made in the second half were ridiculous and made me briefly think this game was being played in Bramlage Coliseum.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Phil Pressey 23.4 0.69 34 Min, 20 Pts (6-9 FG, 4-5 3PT, 4-4 FT), 8 Ast, 3 TO
Mike Dixon 22.9 0.76 30 Min, 22 Pts (8-12 FG, 4-5 3PT, 2-3 FT), 5 Ast, 2 TO
Marcus Denmon 18.1 0.48 38 Min, 20 Pts (5-12 FG, 4-11 3PT, 6-7 FT), 2 Reb
Ricardo Ratliffe 14.8 0.53 28 Min, 14 Pts (7-10 FG, 0-1 FT), 5 Reb (2 Off), 2 Stl
Matt Pressey 5.0 0.28 18 Min, 6 Pts (2-4 FG, 1-3 3PT, 1-2 FT), 4 Reb
Steve Moore 2.1 0.14 15 Min, 0 Pts (0-1 FG), 5 Reb (2 Off), 4 PF
Andrew Jones -0.5 NR 0 Min, 1 PF
Kim English -3.1 -0.08 37 Min, 2 Pts (1-7 FG, 0-5 3PT), 5 Reb, 4 PF
  • It truly is amazing that Missouri lost a game in which Phil Pressey, Mike Dixon and Marcus Denmon combined to score 62 points on 19-for-33 shooting, a game in which Pressey and Dixon combined for 13 assists, two steals and five turnovers (BCI: 3.00). Yes, there was some faltering down the stretch -- Mizzou went scoreless for four straight possessions with under five minutes remaining (a Pressey turnover, a missed Denmon 3-pointer, and two missed English 3-pointers) -- but after a slow start (seven points in the first seven minutes), Mizzou scored 68 points over a 28-minute span in the game's midsection. That should have been enough. That really should have been enough.
  • I maintain that NSU's 3-point shooting was the single most damaging factor in this game, but there's no question that Kyle O'Quinn's dominance was key. O'Quinn had five offensive rebounds ... and Ratliffe and Moore combined for just six defensive rebounds. Matt Pressey and Kim English helped out a decent amount on the defensive glass, but O'Quinn and Rodney McCauley (four offensive rebounds) gave NSU far too many second chances.
  • Kim English's Worst Games of 2011-12
    1. Norfolk State (3/16): -3.1 Adj. GS points
    2. Texas A&M (1/16): 3.7
    3. at Oklahoma State (1/25): 5.2
    4. at Kansas (2/25): 5.9
    5. Kansas State (2/21): 6.4
    6. Illinois (12/22): 7.5
    7. at Kansas State (1/7): 7.6

    Four of his seven worst games were losses. Seems like a trend to me.
  • Seriously, you just ache for Kim English, don't you? Even his previous worst game of the season would have added about seven points to Mizzou's ledger. Again, in a game they lost by two.
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
P. Pressey 23% 58% 5.9 74% 14% 7% 5%
Dixon 29% 58% 4.9 63% 26% 8% 4%
Denmon 24% 41% 2.3 22% 44% 30% 4%
Ratliffe 23% 56% 1.4 0% 82% 10% 8%
M. Pressey 15% 43% 1.1 0% 63% 37% 0%
Moore 4% 0% 0.2 0% 100% 0% 0%
English 12% 14% 1.2 42% 50% 0% 7%

To the checklist!

Marcus Denmon's Usage% needs to be 23% or higher. (Yes!)
Kim English's %T/O needs to be at 10% or lower. (Yes!)
Kim English's Floor% should be at 35% or higher. (Nooooooooo.)
Ricardo Ratliffe's %Fouled should be at least 10%. (No.)
Phil Pressey's Touches/Possession need to be 3.5 or better. (Yes!)
Mike Dixon's %Pass should be 55% or higher. (Yes!)
Steve Moore's Touches/Possession should be at least 1.0. (Noooooo.)

Not only is that only a 4-for-7 "performance," but two of the three misses were really, really missed. For the most part, the features on this checklist hinted more at personality than performance, but Kim English's Floor% was purely a performance measure, and English's 14% was almost half as good as his previous worst Floor% of the season (26% at Kansas).

Three Keys Revisited

From Thursday's preview.

The Whistles

Mizzou should by all means have too much for Norfolk State when all is said and done. However ... if Ricardo Ratliffe has two fouls before the first TV timeout, and Steve Moore picks up a second before the third TV timeout ... and Kim English is forced to body up against Kyle O'Quinn ... ? NSU is going to pound and pound and pound, and if Mizzou's positioning isn't sound, they could find themselves limited by foul trouble. In some ways, NSU is like a mini-Kansas State -- they can throw waves of similarly-talented bodies at you, and they don't mind getting into foul trouble if it means you do too. ("The Whistles" goes for NSU, too, by the way. Against their five best opponents -- Marquette twice, Drexel, Virginia Tech and Illinois State -- O'Quinn fouled out three times.)

"NSU is going to pound and pound and pound" ... or ... Mizzou is going to anticipate the pounding, and NSU is going to end up making some early confidence-builder 3-pointers ... which results in quite a few more 3-pointers. Consider this one a miss on my part.

Play Your Game

There is no reason to believe Missouri will tighten up or panic if things stay tight for a while. They haven't made a habit of it this season. But in theory, NSU is big and physical enough to hang around with the Tigers, and the imminent Mizzou run will only come if the Tigers continue to play their game and trust themselves. If NSU goes on a little run and we start to see quick Phil Pressey 3-pointers and out-of-control drives, however, there might be reason to get a little nervous. Run the offense, take good shots, play sound defense, win.

Mizzou absolutely played its game. And it wasn't good enough.


We never necessarily know which Mizzou guard is going to catch fire, but one usually does, be it Marcus Denmon, Mike Dixon or Kim English. What makes Mizzou untouchable at times is when somebody is on fire and Phil Pressey is in complete and total control. As I said multiple times, despite Kim English averaging 23 points per game in the Big 12 Tournament, I'd have thought long and hard about giving Pressey the tournament's Most Outstanding Player award. Quite simply, when he is great, Mizzou is great. So, uh, be great, Flip.

Flip Pressey: 34 minutes, 20 points (6-9 FG, 4-5 3PT, 4-4 FT), eight assists, three turnovers

Flip Pressey was great. And it wasn't good enough.


Again, we've got a postmortem series on the way, but in the meantime all I can think to say is what I said in comments yesterday:

Duke's loss was certainly an indication that stupid s*** happens, and that the only way you can be assured of breaking through is by continuing to put a high-quality product on the court every year and hope that the breaks go your way. Just look at Kansas — Bucknell (2005), Bradley (2006), Northern Iowa (2010), VCU (2011) … oh yeah, and the 2008 national title. Or Duke in recent years — VCU (2007), Lehigh (2012) … and the 2010 national title. Obviously we tried the "consistently good teams" thing in previous decades and didn’t get a Final Four, but … it’s still the only way.

I know this loss set off the typical -- and somewhat justifiable -- round of "same old Mizzou" self-pity, but there are no curses preventing Missouri from finally breaking through and reaching a Final Four, BCS title game, etc. All it takes is continued effort. There is no question that Mizzou has suffered plenty of creatively gut-wrenching losses, but what else is there to do but keep trying to put great teams on the court and keep trying to break through?

The 2012-13 season began about 6:00 p.m. on Friday evening. Time to move on, no matter how hard it may be.


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.