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Mizzou Hoops Wrap-Up, Game 2: Valparaiso

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That's a little better. Mizzou evens its season record at 1-1 with a 56-41 win over the Valparaiso Crusaders.

Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports

And like that, we're off into the great abyss of the Kim Anderson tenure of Mizzou Hoops.

Game one was ugly, game two wasn't much better, other than they seemed to make the shots they needed to make, and Valpo didn't make the shots they needed to, unlike against UMKC. Yet things seem so much more positive when you're on top at the end of the game. And sure, after you watch a team that looked so awful one night turn around and find ways to win it can be uplifting, but there were certain trends that caused Friday night to happen that continued into the game against Valparaiso. Most of them stemmed from the offensive side of the ball.

Let's take a look at the offense (I'll leave the more in-depth stats for Bill, he's better at them):

UMKC VALPO
FG% 38.1 40.0
3FG% 21.7 23.5
FT% 50.0 85.7
FG 24-63 20-50
3FG 5-23 4-17
FT 8-16 12-14
Reb -5 +9

Mizzou also had fewer assists, blocks and steals, but probably more importantly 5 fewer turnovers. I think most people can live with around 12 a game (you'd still like to get under 10, but with a young team that's just not going to be very likely for most games. They shot a slightly higher percentage on fewer shots everywhere. This game was obviously more of a slog than the first game in which the Tigers also gave up 69 points. Holding your opponent to just 41 the next night will benefit a sluggish offense, and it certainly helped against Valpo.

Bill, Fullback and Jack gave me the keys to the Twitter car again last night, and I thought sharing some of my snarkier tweets might be fun, but only because I'm going to try to use them to speak to a larger point.

It was pretty difficult to watch Mizzou attempt to attack the zone against UMKC, and after scoring 24 points in the first half (including 10 from the free throw lines), Mizzou "exploded" for 32 points in the second half, but what was perhaps more impressive is that only 2 came from the free throw line. Which means that Mizzou netted just 6 made baskets in the first half while turning around to make 14 in the second half. THAT'S ALMOST A WHOLE MADE SHOT PER MINUTE! And for our meager expectations for this offense, that's a positive. At about the 15 minute mark of the second half, all of the sudden Mizzou was getting easier shots, and it was because they were attacking the zone from behind. What that means is described perfectly in this gif. Both D'Angelo Allen and Keanau Post are behind the zone.

After attacking the center in the 2-3 zone, Allen hits the mid-post, not the high post. The high post position is too high it doesn't pull the baseline defenders up high enough because that position is defended by the high two guards in the zone. This allows an easier wing entry into the post because its less likely to be defended. Once Allen has the ball, Post positions himself on the baseline for the touch pass and the defense is forced to make a decision, defend Allen who has the ball, or defend the guy close to the basket on the baseline. He basically gets caught, jumping to Allen late which makes the dunk even easier. The next basket made was by Allen on the opposite side of the floor. This time he received the ball in the same place and the defense froze. They didn't want to get dunked on again, and Allen drained a 10 footer. Solid work against the zone. And it only took 65 minutes to get there.

Our best offensive player, Montaque Gill-Caesar was still largely inefficient on offense, needing 13 shots to get just 9 points. If there was good news it was that his 7 points in the second half and each basket was well timed. He opened the half with a 3 point shot. He also did this...

Gill-Caesar has yet to really find the range, but you can see the promise in his play. He's tough, physical and aggressive on the offensive end. He is about the only one who plays with aggressiveness on the offensive end (we'll be nice and include Clark in there too). At some point though, he's going to have to increase his offensive efficiency. Whether that's getting the line more often, or by taking better shots. If he becomes more efficient, our best offensive player becomes more dangerous. That should actually help the other players get better.

Point Guards

Without seeing Bill's stats, I'd say Wes Clark was our best player last night. Not just because he scored the most points, but because he played 32 minutes, made half his shots, 2 of 3 from 3 point range, and 6 of 6 from the FT line. He also grabbed 6 rebounds (another reason I love Wes Clark is that he rebounds as well as any guard that's come through Mizzou). This is the kind of game I think most of us imagined Clark playing when he first dawned a Mizzou jersey. I hope this is the beginning of many more.

On the other side, I thought Shamburger was a bit overexposed with 37 minutes, and wasn't particularly effective. His rather embarrassing airball on the corner three aside, Sham didn't seem to have his best game with him. The problem is that the options are pretty short after him and Clark. Tramaine Isabell has a bright future, and he's going to make some great plays here and there, but he still needs to understand what is and isn't a good shot. His shots per minute dropped in comparison to previous games, but he still took 7 shots, at least 3 or 4 of those weren't needed.

Effort

The most impressive part of this game was that fire that the guys played with. There were more floor burns in tonights game than there were against UMKC. From the opening tip I felt that Mizzou was outplaying Valpo. They are still highly prone to mistakes, and it will look at times like a lack of effort (the end of half layup that was called off as a fine example of that). They played harder, and the change in the scoreboard should give them confidence to keep up the effort.

Balance

I was happy to see Namon get some more minutes, and I felt he was productive while he played, making some things happen that weren't happening for Mizzou previously. Yet, unbalance was every bit of a problem that it was last game. I'd mark that it seems obvious that there are guys that Coach Anderson trusts right now, and guys that he wants to trust. He had 10 scholarship players available and all 10 played. Deuce Bello only played 2 minutes, and my guess as to why is that he just doesn't provide enough offense for a team that can't score as it is. I think there are minutes for him to be had, but he's going to have to find a way to contribute on offense and not just be a smaller version of D'Angelo Allen.

The minutes breakdown:

  • Keith Shamburger: 37 minutes
  • Wes Clark: 32 minutes
  • Montaque Gill-Caesar: 28 minutes
  • Johnathan Williams III: 27 minutes
  • Ryan Rosburg: 26 minutes
  • D'Angelo Allen: 13 minutes
  • Tramaine Isabell: 12 minutes
  • Namon Wright: 12 minutes
  • Keanau Post: 11 minutes
  • Deuce Bello: 2 minutes
It will be interesting to see when/if Jakeenan Gant gets back who loses minutes. The minutes are heavy for the three staring perimeter guys. There was exactly 3 minutes where either Post or Rosburg wasn't on the floor. At this point I think there is a way to get a little more out of some guys, while maybe relying slightly less on others. Having Shamburger and Clark on the floor at the same time may give Clark minutes off the ball, he's still good with the ball in his hands and that could give Wright more minutes. I'm also curious if Gant and Williams will see much time together.

Still, our trends are interesting so far. Mizzou is less balanced than I expected, the effort has been mixed, the point guard play has been good. There isn't much that I've seen that has changed my expectations to this point. They're just going to have to continue to get better and basically be like the football team, let that defense shine.