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Study Hall: Missouri's season to date

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Offense and defense are equally to blame for Mizzou's 7-12 start in 2014-15, but continuity has been an outright villain. Consider this your Sunday live thread.

Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports

We're basically two-thirds of the way through the season, and we haven't talked much about full-season numbers so far. I thought it would be interesting to apply the typical Study Hall game recap template to the season as a whole.

Opponent 68.1, Missouri 63.2

Mizzou
Opponent
Pace (No. of Possessions) 63.9
Points Per Possession (PPP) 0.99 1.07
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.18 1.27
2-PT FG% 44.7% 46.1%
3-PT FG% 35.3% 33.8%
FT% 66.3% 70.6%
True Shooting % 51.2% 53.1%
FTA/FGA 34.0% 44.8%
Mizzou Opponent
Assists 11 10
Steals 6 6
Turnovers 13 12
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.28 1.41
Mizzou Opponent
Expected Offensive Rebounds 11.1 11.0
Offensive Rebounds 10.3 11.8
Difference -0.8 +0.8
  • 0.99 points per possession is ... bad. Worst since the 2004-05 and 2005-06 teams averaged 1.00. The last time a Mizzou team did even worse than this one offensively was 1997-98 (0.89), Norm's second-to-last team. That squad played 72.4 possessions per game and scored just 64.6 points per game.

  • Allowing 1.07 points per possession, meanwhile, isn't much better. Last year's team averaged 1.07, too, and the 2005-06 team allowed 1.06. You have to go back to 2003-04 to find another 1.07; that was Rickey Paulding's and Arthur Johnson's senior season, when the offense thrived and the defense was simply abysmal. Most of the blame for this year's struggles goes to the offensive side of the court, but that's only part of the issue. Sure, we could say that offensive droughts lead to defensive breakdowns, but I think pace is clouding our judgment a bit. Because of the ridiculously slow pace, we see low point totals, which makes us think offense is more of an issue than defense.

  • So what's the issue defensively? Rebounding isn't particularly good (which makes sense, given Mizzou's lack of either size or confidence in its big players), but fouling is the worst thing for Mizzou right now. Tiger opponents get to the line nonstop, and even worse, Mizzou is sending pretty good free throw shooters (i.e. guards) to the line. And considering Mizzou's guards don't actually foul much, that paints the picture of a team allowing guards into the lane before its bigs have to create contact.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Johnathan Williams III 11.5 0.40 29.1 MPG, 12.6 PPG (48% 2PT, 29% 3PT, 62% FT), 7.1 RPG, 2.7 TOPG, 2.9 PFPG
Keith Shamburger 11.3 0.33 34.5 MPG, 8.6 PPG (53% 2PT, 37% 3PT, 90% FT), 3.2 RPG, 3.2 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.9 TOPG
Wes Clark 10.1 0.33 30.3 MPG, 9.6 PPG (36% 2PT, 32% 3PT, 71% FT), 3.7 RPG, 3.2 APG, 1.8 SPG, 1.9 TOPG
Montaque Gill-Caesar 7.8 0.31 25.4 MPG, 10.8 PPG (36% 2PT, 38% 3PT, 81% FT), 3.3 RPG, 1.8 TOPG
Jakeenan Gant 5.9 0.39 15.1 MPG, 5.1 PPG (66% 2PT, 10% 3PT, 67% FT), 1.9 RPG
Namon Wright 5.1 0.31 16.5 MPG, 5.7 PPG (46% 2PT, 44% 3PT, 50% FT), 2.0 RPG
Tramaine Isabell 4.2 0.27 15.4 MPG, 4.7 PPG (39% 2PT, 30% 3PT, 85% FT), 1.5 APG, 1.3 RPG
Keanau Post 3.8 0.31 12.4 MPG, 3.6 PPG (55% 2PT, 63% FT), 3.4 RPG
D'Angelo Allen 3.7 0.21 17.4 MPG, 3.5 PPG (40% 2PT, 33% 3PT, 63% FT), 3.3 RPG
Ryan Rosburg 2.5 0.16 15.8 MPG, 2.4 PPG (44% 2PT, 19% FT), 3.1 RPG
Deuce Bello 1.7 0.17 10.3 MPG, 2.7 PPG (64% 2PT, 57% 3PT, 20% FT), 1.3 RPG
Hayden Barnard 0.0 0.00 1 Min
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Johnathan Williams III 28% 35% 2.6 24% 42% 23% 11%
Keith Shamburger 14% 41% 2.6 64% 20% 9% 7%
Wes Clark 22% 35% 3.4 57% 30% 7% 6%
Montaque Gill-Caesar 27% 32% 2.0 11% 59% 19% 11%
Jakeenan Gant 19% 42% 1.6 23% 55% 12% 9%
Namon Wright 19% 37% 1.9 40% 47% 4% 9%
Tramaine Isabell 22% 34% 3.2 57% 29% 7% 7%
Keanau Post 18% 39% 1.3 7% 57% 20% 17%
D'Angelo Allen 14% 35% 1.6 42% 39% 11% 8%
Ryan Rosburg 13% 30% 1.4 30% 35% 24% 10%
Deuce Bello 16% 36% 1.5 30% 35% 17% 18%

The most underrated problem for this team so far: continuity. I mean that in two ways.

1. Year-to-year. For the third consecutive season, Frank Haith was preparing to put an almost completely new roster on the court before he fled for Tulsa. Loading up on transfers isn't a bad idea in and of itself (hello, Iowa State). But his failure to attract high school talent that would actually remain in Columbia meant that he had to keep going back to the well.

In his second season in Columbia, Haith had to put together a new rotation because he had inherited a roster full of seniors. In his third year, he again lost most of his best players because they were either seniors or declared early. And in what would have been his fourth year, he was going to have to deal with the early declaration of both Jordan Clarkson and Jabari Brown. And since his latest batch of transfers wasn't nearly as good -- Deuce Bello, pre-insanity Keith Price -- he was going to struggle this year, namely because sooooo many freshmen or sophomores transferred because of problems with either discipline, playing time, or pure talent.

Kim Anderson inherited a team that returned basically three 2013-14 contributors, and one of them (Ryan Rosburg) has one of the most epic cases of the free throw yips I can remember. This team is learning to play together, and that's one of many things holding Mizzou back. If this roster returns mostly intact next season, it will be the first time that was the case since 2011-12. That alone will make Mizzou a better team. We've pretty clearly learned the value of continuity in recent years; if the Tigers can actually avoid a wave of transfers this offseason, they'll have continuity for the first time in four years.

2. Game-to-game. Because of injury, academics, and total inconsistency, 11 different guys are averaging 10+ minutes per game. That's not by design.

We're 19 games into the season, and Kim Anderson has no semblance of a rotation yet. Part of that is because he's relying so heavily on freshmen; freshmen typically aren't ready to show up every game. Beyond that, though, injuries have been costly.

Wes Clark missed a game with injury and was clearly limited in others. J3 started the season slowly because of his offseason knee injury. Teki put together a run of double-digit scoring in six of eight games, then landed hard and hurt his back against Illinois. He played well against OSU, then played only 18 minutes in the next five games and was rusty as hell against Texas A&M. He found his rhythm again on Saturday against Arkansas, despite still maybe fearing contact a bit.

If Teki's back in form, then Missouri can actually get back to playing its top four players (Clark, Shamburger, Teki, J3) at once and figuring out its rotation from there. The bench will still consist mostly of freshmen (and juniors who aren't bringing anything to the table at the moment), but the Clark-Teki-J3 combination is both young and potentially powerful; those three need to be on the court together as much as possible because they could be all sorts of dangerous next year.

***

I know there have been some legitimate questions about offensive identity, guys standing around, spacing, etc. But I'm giving Kim Anderson a complete and total pass so far this year. He inherited a roster that was too young to possibly do damage, and while he quickly added two of its best players -- Shamburger and Teki, not to mention Isabell and Allen -- this team was doomed to inconsistency and struggle from the start. Add in some pretty poor injury luck, Rosburg's free throw yips, and some horrific late-game bounces, and he really never had a chance.

Next year's team could have both continuity and experience, and we'll get a chance to actually see what Kim Anderson wants to do on both sides of the court. We're only getting periodic glimpses right now. But we've got 13 more games to watch a nucleus build. We'll see what happens.

---

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.