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Study Hall: Xavier 74, Missouri 58

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Good minutes vs. bad minutes.

Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports

Your Trifecta: Gant-J3-Allen.

Your Season Trifecta: J3 13, Teki 11 points, Shamburger 11, Clark nine, Wright six, Gant three, Allen three, Rosburg two, Isabell one, Post one.

This team isn't consistently good or bad at anything, really. It's certainly been a while since we saw consistently strong rebounding, I grant you. But ball control has been a strength and weakness, 3-point shooting has been a strength and weakness, 3-point defense has been a strength and weakness ... getting to the line ... stepping into passing lanes ... in the first 10 games (12 including exhibitions) of the Kim Anderson era, we've seen Missouri do nothing particularly well or poorly each time.

Granted, we can pretty clearly see a deficiency in the post, where Ryan Rosburg is still in a funk, Keanau Post has [what's 10 steps worse than a funk?], and D'Angelo Allen is and will continue to be 6'7, 220. But this team has point guards, shooting guards, wings, and power forwards who have looked really good at times this year, and there's every reason to believe that will continue.

So now we're basically waiting for the good-to-bad ratio to improve. This team wants to be good. You can see it. You can see the gears turning for Teki Gill-Caesar, you can see Johnathan Williams III trying to become a leader, you can see what Wes Clark is trying to do even when he doesn't succeed in doing it, you can see how D'Angelo Allen is going to be Missouri's own Ron Artest in about two years, and you can see the energy that Jakeenan Gant brings to the table. And you can see how it all disappears and reappears.

First 11 minutes: Xavier 18, Missouri 5
Next 18 minutes: Missouri 36, Xavier 26
Next 7 minutes: Xavier 23, Missouri 7

Xavier scored an early knockdown, Missouri controlled the middle rounds with hustle and balance, and Xavier scored an eighth-round knockout.

Against both Elon and Xavier, Missouri was a damn strong team -- one capable of outscoring Elon by nearly 20 points in a half and outscoring Xavier by nearly 10 -- and that's incredibly encouraging. But wow, were the Tigers awful in the other half. The trick to becoming a good team is managing the slumps.

Every team gets out of whack sometimes, but the good ones go through two or three iffy possessions in a row, then rally. They say "We're losing the plot, and here's how we get it back," and then they go and get it back. This team has no idea how to get it back yet. But it will as long as everybody keeps scrapping and learning*. It's weird feeling encouraged after a 16-point knockout loss. But once again, I am. And I'm going to say something that surprises even me: I think I enjoy watching this team more than last year's team. I've always enjoyed the growth process to some degree (the "wait till next year" guy in me is still there), but beyond that, I have infinitely more hope for the future than I did about 10 months ago. It's just that the present is still pretty gross.

* There's obviously no guarantee that everybody keeps scrapping and learning. Chemistry management is going to be huge over the next month or two.

Xavier 74, Missouri 58

Mizzou
Xavier
Pace (No. of Possessions) 63.3
Points Per Possession (PPP) 0.92 1.17
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.07 1.64
2-PT FG% 52.6% 59.3%
3-PT FG% 6.3% 44.4%
FT% 75.0% 81.8%
True Shooting % 46.2% 67.7%
Mizzou Xavier
Assists 6 12
Steals 9 1
Turnovers 12 17
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.25 0.76
Mizzou Xavier
Expected Offensive Rebounds 12.4 8.0
Offensive Rebounds 10 8
Difference -2.4 0
  • In the end, Xavier just shot too well to lose and Missouri shot too poorly to win. Rebounding went in Xavier's favor, but not dramatically so, and I believe this was Missouri's best ball handling game of the year against good competition. But when Missouri had a chance to take the lead early in the second half, the Tigers missed every shot they took. And when Xavier had a chance to put the game away, the Musketeers went unconscious. (And while this post is about Missouri, all the credit in the world to Xavier for basically saying, "Alright, enough's enough," and putting this game on lockdown with 10 minutes left. They looked gooood in that stretch.)

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Jakeenan Gant 17.2 1.15 15 Min, 13 Pts (4-8 FG, 1-4 3PT, 4-4 FT), 1 Reb (1 Off), 1 Stl, 2 Blk, 1 TO, 3 PF
Johnathan Williams III 16.5 0.49 34 Min, 17 Pts (5-10 FG, 0-2 3PT, 7-11 FT), 9 Reb (5 Off), 4 TO, 4 PF
D'Angelo Allen 14.6 1.33 11 Min, 8 Pts (3-3 FG, 2-2 FT), 1 Reb, 1 Stl
Keith Shamburger 11.6 0.32 36 Min, 7 Pts (3-9 FG, 0-2 3PT, 1-1 FT), 3 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 Stl, 3 PF
Wes Clark 5.0 0.25 20 Min, 3 Pts (1-4 FG, 0-1 3PT, 1-2 FT), 4 Reb (2 Off), 1 Ast
Deuce Bello 2.3 0.23 10 Min, 0 Pts, 1 Reb, 2 Stl, 1 TO
Keanau Post 0.0 0.00 4 Min, 0 Pts
Ryan Rosburg -0.2 -0.01 16 Min, 2 Pts (1-3 FG), 1 Reb (1 Off), 1 Ast, 1 TO, 2 PF
Namon Wright -1.0 -0.07 15 Min, 2 Pts (1-4 FG, 0-3 3PT), 2 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Blk, 1 TO, 3 PF
Tramaine Isabell -1.9 -0.17 11 Min, 2 Pts (1-3 FG, 0-1 3PT), 1 Stl, 2 TO, 1 PF
Montaque Gill-Caesar -7.6 -0.27 28 Min, 4 Pts (2-10 FG, 0-3 3PT), 1 Stl, 2 TO, 3 PF
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Jakeenan Gant 38% 46% 2.8 0% 60% 33% 7%
Johnathan Williams III 30% 37% 2.4 0% 38% 46% 15%
D'Angelo Allen 19% 82% 1.5 0% 58% 42% 0%
Keith Shamburger 14% 41% 2.4 64% 32% 4% 0%
Wes Clark 13% 32% 1.9 49% 33% 18% 0%
Montaque Gill-Caesar 23% 15% 1.3 0% 83% 0% 17%
Tramaine Isabell 24% 18% 1.4 0% 60% 0% 40%
Deuce Bello 5% 0% 0.3 0% 0% 0% 100%
Ryan Rosburg 13% 30% 1.9 60% 30% 0% 10%
Namon Wright 18% 25% 2.3 54% 37% 0% 9%
  • You think maybe Jakeenan Gant was itching to make an impact? He still has plenty to learn in terms of playing with control and playing one-on-one defense on the wing, but his introduction into the lineup immediately raised Missouri's offensive ceiling, and he made two nice rim-protector blocks, something Missouri could use plenty more of in the coming months. With him, Missouri is a deeper, longer, more athletic, more high-ceiling team. That's exciting.

  • We always hear how the staff is trying to make J3 meaner and tougher. He's "too nice," etc. Well ... we saw mean J3 at times yesterday. That's also exciting, though the reviews were, shall we say, mixed. Five offensive rebounds: awesome! Getting to the line 11 times: great! Eight combined turnovers and fouls: less awesome! With the rims incredibly unkind to Teki, J3 tried to step up and maybe reached a bit too far at times. But he also looked really good at times.

  • Boy, Teki, you don't go halfway, do you? When you struggle, you struggle. Over the previous four games, Gill-Caesar was averaging 14.1 Adj. GS PPG. If he delivers half of that, Missouri might be in position to win this game. But he just couldn't get the ball in the basket, and he began to press and delivered an Adj. GS point total I didn't realize was possible: minus-7.6. Another learning experience for a player who is clearly on his way to being really, really good.

  • Yeah, I said it, D'Angelo. Ron Artest. Prove me right.

  • Rosburg and Post: 20 minues, two points, one rebound.

Summary

I keep finding myself wanting to say "This team is really close!" but I don't actually know what "close" means in this instance. Following the Maui Invitational, I said I was encouraged by the fact that all 10 players in the rotation had looked good at some point in the first seven games of the year. It appears we're losing Post to his Bad Basketball demons, but with Gant entering the rotation, that might be a net win for Mizzou. And J3 and Allen have both been damn strong over the last few games. When Teki is getting the ball in the basket and Clark is playing in control of himself, that's a hell of a fivesome of freshmen and sophomores. And I didn't even mention another freshman, Wright, who was potentially Mizzou's best player in Maui.

This team is close. Whatever that means. There are still plenty of obstacles standing in the way of this team and its high ceiling, but you can see it. I really, really just want to fast forward to February to see how everyone has developed (and if they've continued to develop). Instead, we're probably going to have to suffer through 20 minutes of good and 20 minutes of awful for a while. But if they can just get to 25-28 minutes of good, look out...

---

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.

Floor%: Via Basketball-Reference.com: 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 an offensively limited center, 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.