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What advanced stats can tell us about Kim Anderson's Central Missouri teams

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Defense is overrated.

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

You had to know this post was coming at some point, and now that I'm back at home, it's time to dive in and figure out what the stats from Kim Anderson's 11 years at UCM can tell us about what he's bringing to the table in Columbia.

Generally speaking, we know the Anderson-at-UCM story pretty well by now. After a stint as an assistant commissioner for the Big 12, he took over in Warrensburg in 2002 after the previous coach had been fired. After struggling through the first year of the rebuilding process (UCM went 12-16 in 2002-03), the Mules ignited. They went 24-6 and reached the Division II Tournament in 2004-05, went 24-8 and reached the tourney second round in 2005-06, and went to the Final Four in both 2007 and 2009. They made the Sweet 16 in 2010 before a couple of off-year; in 2010-12, UCM went 37-19 and basically fielded NIT teams (only, there's no such thing as the Division II NIT). In 2013, UCM made the tournament again, and in 2014, despite having to replace quite a few pieces, UCM went 30-5 and won the national title.

In 12 years, Anderson won 274 games and fielded a 0.702 win percentage in MIAA play. He has the reputation as a great X-and-O guy, and we have pretty quickly stereotyped him as a defense-first guy (because Norm). But since UCM has per-season data going back to 2000-01, we don't have to worry about stereotypes. We can take a look for ourselves at UCM's styles and tendencies under Anderson.


Let's start on the defensive side of the ball, since this is supposedly Anderson's m.o. Below you'll find a table with most of the main advanced stats you can find at Ken Pomeroy's site: the main Four Factors data (Effective FG%, Turnover%, Off. Reb. %, and FTA/FGA), shooting percentages (3PT, 2PT, FT), and some of the style pieces we lean on quite a bit during in-season previews and reviews (Block%, Steal%, 3PA/FGA, A/FGM).

You'll find these categories for the following spans of time: 2013-14 (Anderson's title season), 2009-14 (the last 5 years), and 2003-14 (the last 11 years, not including his obvious Year 1 rebuild). I'm also including Mizzou's 2013-14 stats as means for comparison. In parentheses are where UCM's stats would have ranked in Division I had a Division I team posted the stats ... if that makes sense. Consider it simply an approximate ranking. It's there, again, for means of comparison.

Kim Anderson's defense at UCM
(Last season)
(Last 5 years)
(Last 11 years)
Points Per Possession 1.01 1.01 0.99 1.07
Effective FG% 47.2% (78) 47.3% (81) 47.0% (70) 47.8% (100)
Turnover % 19.7% (76) 19.4% (98) 21.0% (32) 15.9% (311)
Off. Reb. % 25.8% (5) 27.9% (27) 29.2% (76) 30.7% (138)
FTA/FGA 46.8% (290) 35.4% (71) 33.5% (45) 37.7% (117)
3P% 32.4% (68) 32.9% (92) 32.3% (65) 33.2% (105)
2P% 46.3% (90) 46.4% (92) 46.3% (90) 46.6% (98)
FT% 72.3% (301) 72.2% (296) 71.0% (239) 68.4% (89)
Block% 9.5% (177) 8.0% (243) 8.0% (243) 9.2% (188)
Steal% 7.9% (268) 8.2% (245) 8.4% (223) 7.6% (288)
3PA/FGA 36.8% (304) 32.6% (164) 33.1% (184) 38.4% (322)
A/FGM 48.6% (95) 48.7% (97) 48.8% (100) 52.2% (192)

Anderson's 2013-14 squad was much better at blocks and defensive rebounding than the normal Anderson squad, but you can certainly see where UCM tends to succeed and fail. The Mules do tend to allow quite a few 3-point attempts, and they allowed a ton in 2013-14 (they were lucky that most of them did not go in), which is a red flag, of course. Plus, I guess they seemed to struggle to adapt to new foul rules; they committed a ton of infractions this past winter. They have always tended to foul guards (i.e. players who can make free throws), too.

Those are most of the minuses, however. The pluses are pretty obvious. The Mules have gotten better and better at defensive rebounding through the years, and while the shooting percentages and turnover numbers aren't elite, they're always top-100 caliber.

(Interesting note: very few of the turnovers they force are steals. Combined with the foul numbers, this paints the picture of a team that plays tight man to man and forces bad passes, travels and charges but doesn't necessarily step into passing lanes that much.)

Most Anderson teams have allowed between 0.98 and 1.02 points per possession. The Mules' best defensive team was the first Final Four team (0.92), and the worst was his Year 3 squad that went 24-6 (1.04). Believe it or not, this meshes pretty well with a few recent Mizzou defenses. The 2012-13 squad allowed 0.99 points per possession, 2011-12 allowed 1.02, and 2008-09 allowed 0.95.

For further reference, Norm Stewart's 1993-94 team allowed 0.97, the 1990 team allowed 1.02, and the 1981-82 squad (with Stipanovich, Sundvold, and Ricky Frazier) allowed a ridiculous 0.89.

So basically, Anderson's UCM teams were pretty good at defense, but not elite. A-grade rebounding with a lot of B grades elsewhere. The elite play, believe it or not, came on the other side of the court.


Mizzou's 2011-12 team averaged an absurd 1.23 points per possession. In the last 30+ years, that's the only Mizzou team that can top what UCM did on offense in 2013-14.

Kim Anderson's offense at UCM
(Last season)
(Last 5 years)
(Last 11 years)
Points Per Possession 1.19 1.15 1.14 1.12
Effective FG% 54.9% (12) 53.0% (38) 52.1% (64) 51.2% (99)
Turnover % 15.1% (21) 17.0% (80) 17.8% (135) 19.0% (236)
Off. Reb. % 32.8% (122) 33.1% (113) 34.4% (73) 34.8% (63)
FTA/FGA 44.2% (71) 41.7% (131) 43.3% (89) 52.5% (8)
3P% 37.0% (66) 36.8% (70) 36.5% (76) 34.4% (169)
2P% 54.6% (9) 52.0% (43) 50.8% (75) 51.1% (68)
FT% 67.1% (271) 70.5% (160) 71.3% (133) 74.2% (37)
Block% 6.4% (4) 6.3% (4) 6.6% (5) 9.9% (194)
Steal% 9.0% (179) 8.7% (140) 10.3% (300) 8.7% (142)
3PA/FGA 30.2% (241) 31.3% (211) 32.4% (184) 32.5% (180)
A/FGM 45.6% (308) 50.7% (192) 54.2% (114) 43.1% (334)

UCM's 2013-14 offense was devastating. The Mules were pretty good at shooting the 3-pointer, but they never turned the ball over, and they got a good look, especially inside the arc, on basically every possession. And remember, they weren't benefiting from tons of transition buckets after steals either.

UCM didn't have a go-to scorer in 2013-14. The Mules were basically led by three players -- Dillon Deck (6'9, 240) averaged 14 points and six rebounds, Texas Tech transfer Daylen Robinson (6'0, 190) averaged 13 points, five assists, and four rebounds, and Charles Hammork (6'6, 190) averaged 13 points and six rebounds -- and had another eight players averaging between five and seven points. They were deep, and they attacked the rim and the glass without risking turnovers. This is really hard to do, and it is almost certainly due in part to the unique talent on display (particularly that of Robinson). But while this squad was Anderson's offensive masterpiece, if you look at the five- and 11-year averages, you see similar things.

Anderson's typical offense averaged around 1.14 points per possession. Since 1980-81, only one Mizzou offense has topped that (again, 2011-12), and only four others have come close (1.14 in 2008-09 and 2001-02, 1.13 in 1987-88 and 1989-90). The average Mules offense never got shots blocked, routinely generated good looks throughout the court, hit the glass reasonably well (not elite, but solid), turned the ball over an acceptable amount, and did reasonably well on the glass. There are few elite characteristics above ... except the final per-possession point total, which was indeed elite. Anderson teams get good shots, one way or another, on just about every possession.

In other words, the stereotype doesn't really fit the actual statistical profile. And honestly? That's really, really exciting. It's been easy in recent weeks to imagine an average Kim Anderson team playing a lot like Matt Painter's -- hard on defense, good on the glass, brutal on offense. Turns out, that might not be anywhere close to the truth. The average Anderson team was good on defense, good on the glass, and great on offense.

This shouldn't really change our perceptions much; it's not like we didn't know Anderson's UCM teams were good. But they were good in a way that could be really intriguing, especially when you consider what we discussed yesterday. Anderson's first Mizzou team is going to be athletic and solid on the glass but isn't necessarily blessed offensively. But if Anderson has an immediate effect on this squad, it might actually be on the offensive side of the court, where Mizzou could need it most.

This wasn't at all what I expected. And I like it.

More tomorrow.