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Study Hall: Texas A&M 83, Missouri 61

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Year Zero Year Zero Year Zero Year Zero Year Zero Year Zero Year Zero Year Zero Year Zero Year Zero Year Zero Year Zero Year Zero Year Zero Year Zero Year Zero Year Zero Year Zero Year Zero Year Zero Year Zero Year Zero Year Zero Year Zero Year Zero Year Zero Year Zero Year Zero Year Zero Year Zero Year Zero Year Zero

Kelly Lambert-USA TODAY Sports

Your Trifecta: Clark-Post-Gant.

Your Season Trifecta: J3 29 points, Shamburger 29, Clark 24, Teki 16, Post 10, Wright eight, Gant seven, Isabell six, Allen five, Rosburg four. By class: sophomores 53, freshmen 42, seniors 39, juniors four.

My 2015 college football preview series for SB Nation starts up again on Monday. It's a labor of love, and now that it's my fifth year of doing this 6+ month series, talking about each team becomes like visiting an old friend. "Hey there, New Mexico State, you had quite a youth movement going on there last year. How did that end up going?"

The preview series is quite an exercise in repetition and theme building. There are 120+ teams, and you're going to stumble across familiarities, and while I hopefully don't repeat myself too much, I do come back to specific ideas quite a few times: Year Zero Effect, Glen Mason Territory, etc.

Man oh man, is 2014-15 checking every Year Zero Effect box for Mizzou Basketball. I mentioned this a bit after last week's loss to Alabama.

I can at the drop of a hat point out tons of year-zero situations in that sport -- Lou Holtz going 0-11 in his first year at South Carolina, George O'Leary going 0-11 in his first year at UCF, Sonny Dykes going 1-11 in his first year at Cal, et cetera. Holtz went 17-7 in his next to years in Columbia East, O'Leary went 8-5 in Year 2, Dykes improved to 5-7 this year. From a quality standpoint, Kim Anderson probably isn't Lou Holtz, but we don't know that he's not O'Leary or Dykes.

(So much for not repeating myself, huh?)

Lou Holtz really did go 0-11 in one year at South Carolina, though. He won at least eight games in nine of his last 10 years at Notre Dame and would go 8-4 and 9-3 in his second and third seasons at South Carolina, but in between all of that, he went 0-11. And after winning at least seven games for five straight seasons at Georgia Tech (including a top-10 finish in 1998), George O'Leary landed at UCF after the "he fudged his résumé and got fired from Notre Dame right after getting hired" thing and went 0-11 in his first season (2004). He was washed up, out of his depth, done. And then he went 8-5 in Year 2, 10-4 in Year 4. He's won 31 games in his last three seasons (years 9-11).

How does that happen? How can everything go so completely wrong in one year before picking back up like nothing happened? Because coaching is really hard. And if you are installing enough of a new culture or a new system, then it's quite possible that things will have to go very, very badly before they can go well. Needless to say, as Kim Anderson suspended two more freshmen (Montaque Gill-Caesar, Namon Wright) for yesterday's game, completing the set -- every freshman has now missed time for discipline reasons, and seven players have been suspended at one point or another -- that crossed off another Year Zero Checklist box.

Kim Anderson bought this house, and he's stripping it down to the drywall. He's buying all new furniture, painting every wall a new color, laying down all new flooring, and doing things his way. And in the present tense, it's freaking more and more people out. (That's what losses tend to do, and Mizzou's had a lot of losses.)

While the present-tense narrative is what it is, this season is going to completely be remembered for the few years that happened after it. It is in every essence a transition year. In three years, we'll be looking at this in one of two ways. A) Anderson will be coaching a disciplined, experienced, successful team, and we'll look back at his first season as a full-fledged Year Zero situation, a painful season that was completely necessary. B) Anderson will be gone, and a new coach will be trying to rebuild because Anderson chased off every talented player, held them to too high a standard, and was forced to unearth two-star players who would play the game "the right way" and weren't actually talented enough to win games.

You can have your suspicions regarding whether we're headed toward (A) or (B), and with every loss and suspension, I assume more people lean toward (B). But we really don't have any idea where this is headed. We're just waiting to find out. And the Internet in particular doesn't do "waiting" very well.

Texas A&M 83, Missouri 61

Mizzou
Texas A&M
Pace (No. of Possessions) 61.0
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.00 1.36
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.27 1.48
2-PT FG% 58.1% 64.3%
3-PT FG% 17.6% 42.9%
FT% 84.2% 73.3%
True Shooting % 54.1% 66.3%
FTA/FGA 39.6% 26.8%
Mizzou Texas A&M
Assists 12 22
Steals 4 9
Turnovers 13 7
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.23 4.43
Mizzou Texas A&M
Expected Offensive Rebounds 9.8 8.8
Offensive Rebounds 9 9
Difference -0.8 +0.2

When you're scuffling, improvement really is like loading sand into a truck with your bare hands. You pick up 10 pounds' worth, get three pounds to the truck, then turn around and look at the seven pounds that leaked out between Point A and Point B. You address five problem areas and create four more.

Mizzou's offense yesterday: not bad! The Tigers were again woeful from 3-point range -- something that tends to happen when you suspend what are probably your two most natural 3-point shooters -- but they made a concerted effort to draw more contact and get to the line more. And they averaged 1.0 points per possession for just (gulp) the second time in eight games. Huzzah!

They also allowed an almost hilarious 1.36 points per possession.

A&M is a pretty great passing team. The Aggies are top-50 in Assists Per FG Made and top-100 in both Turnover % and Effective FG%. They don't take a lot of 3s, but they tend to make the ones they take (because they're open). And against a Mizzou defense that had to play a lot of Jakeenan Gant and D'Angelo Allen on the wing -- both guys could play wing with practice but have been 4s for almost all of this season -- they moved the ball far too quickly for Mizzou to keep up. They got out in transition, too, and the new Mizzou lineup just had no chance. Fix one problem, create another.

It really is amazing how the thing that kills Missouri changes from game to game, isn't it? Mizzou played hard and mostly well on defense against Alabama but couldn't buy a bucket. Against A&M, the shots fell to some degree (inside the 3-point line, at least), and the defense got cut open with a scalpel. Rebounding has been decent and awful. Ball-handling has been a strength and an epic weakness. Shooting has been decent and hilariously bad. This happens when you've got a young team, this happens when you've got a lineup that changes drastically from game to game, and this happens when you have a losing streak that saps any semblance of confidence from a squad. I don't see any of those three things changing soon.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Wes Clark 14.6 0.40 37 Min, 15 Pts (5-11 FG, 1-5 3PT, 4-5 FT), 3 Reb (0 Off), 6 Ast, 3 TO, 3 PF
Keanau Post 11.6 0.48 24 Min, 8 Pts (3-3 FG, 2-4 FT), 5 Reb (2 Off), 1 Stl, 1 TO, 2 PF
Jakeenan Gant 11.6 0.65 18 Min, 10 Pts (4-5 FG, 0-1 3PT, 2-2 FT), 1 Reb (1 Off), 1 TO
D'Angelo Allen 11.5 0.55 21 Min, 7 Pts (2-5 FG, 1-2 3PT, 2-2 FT), 4 Reb (3 Off), 2 Ast, 1 PF
Keith Shamburger 10.6 0.29 37 Min, 9 Pts (2-8 FG, 1-6 3PT, 4-4 FT), 5 Reb (1 Off), 2 Ast, 2 Stl, 2 TO, 1 PF
Ryan Rosburg 4.9 0.49 10 Min, 4 Pts (2-2 FG), 1 Reb (1 Off), 1 Stl, 1 TO, 2 PF
Johnathan Williams III -0.9 -0.03 30 Min, 6 Pts (3-11 FG), 5 Reb (1 Off), 1 Ast, 1 Blk, 3 TO, 1 PF
Deuce Bello -3.4 -0.15 23 Min, 2 Pts (0-3 FG, 0-3 3PT, 2-2 FT), 1 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 TO, 3 PF
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Wes Clark 25% 44% 4.9 66% 21% 8% 6%
Keanau Post 14% 56% 1.0 0% 41% 46% 14%
Jakeenan Gant 22% 60% 1.4 0% 65% 22% 13%
D'Angelo Allen 16% 47% 3.0 64% 27% 9% 0%
Keith Shamburger 18% 31% 2.3 47% 32% 13% 8%
Ryan Rosburg 17% 61% 1.0 0% 67% 0% 33%
Johnathan Williams III 27% 20% 2.2 30% 55% 0% 15%
Deuce Bello 15% 19% 1.9 47% 24% 13% 16%
  • It stinks to waste a good Wes Clark (offensive) game, doesn't it? His runners were actually falling, he got to the line, and it didn't matter. I love Wes' effort level, though. His career has not, to date, worked out as he probably expected it to, and his own misses have at a couple of key moments contributed to this losing streak, but he's battling. If he can keep his head on straight -- no more marijuana citations, etc. -- he could be a hell of a leader when he's a senior.

  • Hey there, Jakeenan Gant and D'Angelo Allen! The two freshmen had been absolutely abysmal of late but combined for 17 points on 10 field goal attempts and grabbed four offensive boards. Playing more from the wing opened up their offensive game. (And yes, it also destroyed Mizzou defensively. Can we start running offensive and defensive platoons? Can we get basketball to install kind of a 'line changes' area in the middle of the court like hockey?)

  • Johnathan Williams III in the last four games: 21.9 Adj. GS points against Ole Miss, 5.0 against Kentucky, Alabama, and A&M. Kim Anderson talks a lot about how opponents are keying on him, and I guess he's still learning how to deal with that.

Summary

Mizzou needs to win soon just so I can avoid mentioning Year Zero in every post the rest of this year. But we really are living through a season that we won't remember much about a few years from now. We'll look at this entire season, with its suspensions and close losses, as the beginning of something great, or as the immediate beginning of the end for Kim Anderson.

But in the present tense, I'll keep reacting to these games and looking for positives. It's what I do, even if in 2018 I can pull up this post and think, "Wow, I don't remember a single moment from this game."

---

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.