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Watching Missouri basketball is like being the boyfriend in a horror movie

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Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Your Trifecta: Clark-Rosburg-Puryear

Your Season Totals: Your Season Totals: Puryear 24, Phillips 17, Clark 15, Wright 13, Gant 10, Walton 9, Isabell 9, VanLeer 7, Woods 5, Allen 2, Rosburg 3. Freshmen 57, sophomores 34, juniors 20, seniors 2.

Watching Missouri basketball right now is like being in a horror movie -- you know your character's ugly death is going to come, but you don't know when. Sometimes you're the "Hey, I'm going to go to the car to grab some chips" guy, and it happens right off the bat with a 10-0 deficit three minutes in. Sometimes, as was the case against both Georgia and Texas A&M this week, you're the boyfriend who consoles the main character before meeting a particularly grisly death two-thirds into the movie (Missouri plays competitive ball into the second half before succumbing). One thing's for certain, though: unless the opponent is Auburn, Missouri will indeed succumb to the antagonist.

First 24 minutes: Missouri 35, Texas A&M 34
Next 10 minutes: Texas A&M 20, Missouri 5
Last 6 minutes: Missouri 13, Texas A&M 12

But hey, I guess that's better than going 10-0 down in the first three minutes, huh? I guess? Maybe?

Texas A&M 66, Missouri 53

Mizzou
Texas A&M
Pace (No. of Possessions) 61.8
Points Per Possession (PPP) 0.86 1.07
Points Per Shot (PPS) 0.95 1.08
2-PT FG% 45.9% 45.5%
3-PT FG% 15.8% 25.0%
FT% 58.8% 57.7%
True Shooting % 41.7% 45.6%
FTA/FGA 30.4% 42.6%
Mizzou Texas A&M
Assists 11 17
Steals 2 4
Turnovers 15 5
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
0.87 4.20
Mizzou Texas A&M
Expected Offensive Rebounds 13.8 11.8
Offensive Rebounds 12 12
Difference -1.8 +0.2
  • A&M left the door open for quite a while by shooting poorly. The Aggies are a pretty good shooting team, but Missouri's defense was sound, and the rims were unforgiving. Unfortunately, the rims were unforgiving for Mizzou, too. The Tigers countered A&M's 7-for-28 shooting on 3-pointers by going 3-for-19. Wes Clark went 2-for-4, and everybody else went 1-for-15. And while A&M's poor free throw shooting was a boon, Missouri's was a death knell -- Jakeenan Gant and Russell Woods went 1-for-5 from the line. (Everybody else was a fine 9-for-12.)
  • Shooting was a missed opportunity, and rebounding was reasonably close (A&M won the expected rebounds battle by two), but the game was decided by ball handling. And if you're Missouri, a team with few bigs that must win the ball-control battle, committing 15 turnovers while forcing just five -- FIVE -- is depressing. Missouri had just two steals, and A&M's passing was too much to overcome. Despite shooting poorly, the Aggies still had 17 assists, and considering how many 3-pointers they were allowed to take (28!), that suggests that A&M's shooting had as much to do with rims and randomness as Mizzou defense.
  • (That felt like an unfair take. Mizzou's defense was solid here. But it probably wasn't as solid as "45.6% true shooting" would suggest.)

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Wes Clark 21.2 0.66 32 Min, 12 Pts (4-9 FG, 2-4 3PT, 2-2 FT), 9 Reb (2 Off), 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 3 TO, 2 PF
Ryan Rosburg 16.0 0.89 18 Min, 10 Pts (5-6 FG), 4 Reb (1 Off), 1 Blk, 1 TO, 5 PF
Kevin Puryear 13.3 0.44 30 Min, 11 Pts (3-8 FG, 0-1 3PT, 5-7 FT), 6 Reb (1 Off), 1 Ast, 2 TO, 2 PF
K.J. Walton 10.6 1.06 10 Min, 4 Pts (2-3 FG, 0-1 3PT), 2 Reb (1 Off), 2 Ast, 1 PF
Terrence Phillips -0.7 -0.02 33 Min, 9 Pts (3-10 FG, 1-4 3PT, 2-3 FT), 5 Reb, 2 Ast, 4 TO, 5 PF
Jakeenan Gant -2.0 -0.14 14 Min, 1 Pts (0-5 FG, 0-1 3PT, 1-2 FT), 4 Reb (2 Off), 1 Stl, 1 TO
Cullen VanLeer -2.5 -0.14 18 Min, 0 Pts (0-3 FG, 0-3 3PT), 1 Reb, 1 Ast
Russell Woods -4.1 -0.23 18 Min, 0 Pts (0-2 FG, 0-3 FT), 3 Reb (2 Off), 1 Ast, 4 PF
Namon Wright -5.6 -0.21 27 Min, 6 Pts (3-10 FG, 0-5 3PT), 5 Reb, 2 Ast, 4 TO, 4 PF
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Wes Clark 21% 36% 2.4 46% 35% 7% 12%
Ryan Rosburg 20% 67% 1.2 0% 86% 0% 14%
Kevin Puryear 22% 35% 2.3 26% 36% 29% 9%
K.J. Walton 15% 72% 4.5 80% 20% 0% 0%
Terrence Phillips 24% 26% 2.6 41% 35% 10% 14%
Jakeenan Gant 25% 7% 1.7 0% 63% 24% 13%
Cullen VanLeer 8% 11% 1.5 66% 34% 0% 0%
Russell Woods 9% 10% 1.8 55% 19% 26% 0%
Namon Wright 26% 23% 2.9 46% 39% 0% 16%
  • Suddenly this is a team held up by its upperclassmen and dragged down by the young guys. Even with Woods playing poorly, Mizzou's three juniors/seniors combined for 33.1 Adj. GS points; its six freshmen/sophomores combined for 19.9 ... and 13.3 of those came from Kevin Puryear.
  • I ache for Namon Wright. He's been one of the best players in the country at getting to the line in conference play -- he's now attempted 24 2-pointers, 24 3-pointers, and 24 free throws in SEC games. He's getting to the line, he's still grabbing boards (though that rate has predictably decreased in SEC games), he's improving his overall game nicely. And he STILL can't buy a bucket. He's made just 10 of those 2-point attempts (41.7%) and just SIX of the 3-pointers (25%). He's shooting 28% for the season on 3-pointers. In five games against Georgia, South Carolina, UNO, NIU, and Wofford, he's 12-for-24 (50%). In the other 14 games, he's 7-for-45 (16%). Maybe that means some EPIC regression toward the mean is coming his way. Damn, does Missouri need that to happen.
  • And speaking of shooting ... Cullen VanLeer in his first 10 collegiate games: 16-for-41 on 3-pointers (39%). In his last nine games: 4-for-22 (18%). Not completely sure why he's getting more minutes than KJ Walton in a lot of games, but that might suggest he's still making these bombs in practice.
  • Dumping to Ryan Rosburg is starting to become a viable play. He's not going to suddenly turn into a post-up monster, but he's now 19-for-22 from the floor in SEC games, 14-for-16 in the last three. All five of his buckets were assisted on Saturday, as has been the case throughout this run, but that's still something. Mizzou guards are penetrating and actually finding a dump-off target underneath.
  • It's a good thing Rosburg's stepping up because in the last six games, Russell Woods is averaging 1.0 points and 1.7 rebounds per game. Yuck. D'Angelo Allen has been exceeding that on the court, but judging by his "DNP -- COACH'S DECISION" yesterday, he's still not practicing in the way that Kim Anderson would like to see. I guess.

Summary

Though the slow starts tell you pretty clearly, "It's okay, you can go run errands without feeling guilty about missing the rest of this game," I guess I'll take the second-half droughts. If nothing else, they give Missouri more possessions in a competitive, non-comeback setting.

With a young team, that could pay off down the line. But with Wright still struggling from the arc, with Woods disappearing and Allen failing to earn Anderson's trust, and with Terrence Phillips still committing a lot of fouls on the perimeter, Missouri just has no margin for error against good teams. And eventually the Tigers use up the margin they've got.

A lot of this really can be written off as what happens when you've got a young team, but that still only gets you so far when you notice that Missouri is now 17-34 since the start of last year and is, at best, looking at two to three more wins over the final 12 games of this year.

---

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.