After the Wrap-Up yesterday, I hope many of you feel somewhat better, cleansed even, of the Xavier loss. If you aren't, well, this is a good opportunity to wallow a little more. If you are, let's open that wound again. The fun part of this exercise is that there were equally good and bad possessions during the stretch. Missouri took some very good shots, and shot themselves in the foot.
At halftime of the game, Missouri had crawled back to within 5 points after being down by 13 points early on. They were executing on offense, forcing Xavier to take tough shots on defense, and looking a lot like a team we'd all like to see more of. After halftime, Missouri scored the first 5 points of the half to get within one point. After quickly trading baskets, the score sat at 34-33 for a minute and a half of game time. Missouri had three opportunities to take the leaad during that span. It sounded like good fun to look specifically at these moments to see what went wrong.
Score 34-33, JW3 Missed Layup @ 17:46
Missouri actually had a really good possession here. The ball moves from side to side, they run the offense (the dribble to the wing that Shamburger does is part of the offense) and get JW3 isolated where he can take advantage of his athleticism and drive the basket. He just misses the shot. When it comes to JW3, he's still a work in progress. He's a guy who we've seen him get MUCH better within the season this year. He's gone from averaging less than 10 points and less than 5 rebounds, to where he's had 18, 16, 16 and 17 points in the last 4 games. Added to 11, 8, 8 and 9 rebounds in the last 4. That shot that he missed, he's going to make with more frequency as he adjusts to his new role. During that last 4 game span, JW3 has made 19-40 FGs, I'd expect that to go up also.
Not to pile on Ryan Rosburg, but if another guy is in the game, who is maybe more athletic, he likely pulls in that rebound as well. He didn't quite get his feet ready to rebound. Maybe with another guy, he isn't able to clear the space that Rosburg did. We'll never know. But missed opportunity #1 was a tough one, because things were moving so well. Make that basket, the whole game can change.
Score 34-33, Dumb foul by MGC @ 17:12
After a missed three pointer by Xavier, Missouri walked the ball up the floor with their second chance to take a lead. At the onset of the possession you can clearly see MGC's frustration with J.P. Macura. Macura is one of those frustrating players to play against because he's very good at being the victim. A "flopper" by all accounts. He was able to get inside Teki's head way too easily. Already frustrated with a poor shooting day to that point, Teki let his frustration go too far be giving Macura a chance to flop with a pretty weak push off. The officials eyes were already on him due to his arm flap earlier, he's got to know better. And he will. Right now Teki is a good wing player who is having to do more than he's ready for. One year of seasoning will clear most of these little frustrations he has up.
Still, it's frustrating for fans to watch that, however.
Score 34-33, Shamburger misses transition jumpshot @ 17:00
As bad as the last possession was, this was even worse for me. I like Shamburger, but this was a bad shot, and I said it as he pulled up to shoot. I hate the heels on the three-point-line shot already. In transition I hate it more. Missouri had just forced a missed shot and had a chance to run it out a bit, but the numbers simply weren't there (Shamburger also got away with a bit of a shoulder push off on Dee Davis; Missouri was fortunate a charge wasn't called there). As a senior leader he has to know the time and place. Time is 17 minutes to play, place is down one, with two straight lost possessions with a chance to go up one or more. The smart decision there is to pull it out and run the offense, make Xavier work.
The other side of the coin would be that if you're not going to pull up for a 3 pointer, probe the lane and see if you can force the defense to collapse and get something on a kick out or a even a dump off if it's there. If not, pull it out and run offense. As it is, a quick shot let's Xavier out of playing any defense, and gets them the ball back.
And they scored.
Fortunately for Missouri, they scored too. Xavier followed Missouri with a 3 point attempt that they missed. And then...
Score 36-35, MGC misses open 3-point shot @ 15:51
A very good shot out of what, to that point, was a pretty terrible possession. I'm not sure what exactly is going on camera side of the floor. The exchange with Rosburg, Shamburger and Wright is awkward. But Something came from nothing when Shamburger takes a ball screen from Rosburg and turns the corner and finds a wide open Teki in the corner for the kind of three point shot I've talked about in the past. It's important to consider the quality of a look when you're discussion three point shooting. This was everything you wanted in a 3-point attempt. It just didn't go in. Shamburger did a good job of attacking the defense and forcing it to collapse. Teki's nemesis Macura gets sucked down. He just missed the shot. I think on a normal day he makes that shot. On an average shooting day, he makes that shot.
My favorite part is the three managers who were sure it was going in.
So another loss, but you can see how close this team really is. I'm not sure if they'll get there this year, they could, but there is a lot of reason to think that this team is going to be a good one moving forward.