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It’s a Mizzou Basketball Mailbag!

Missouri v Kansas Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Welcome one, welcome all. In this first installment of our hoops mailbag with questions from the Mizzou faithful, we’ll take a look at an assortment of topics that have generated discussion through 10 games.

Question No. 1

I’ll start by saying I’ve not been a strong believer in the “best five” needing to start the game. There are multiple reasons for that, most notably that it is far more important who plays together and most often. Admittedly, that position has been challenged a bit over the first 10 games this season. Mizzou has routinely fallen behind early in games, often suffering from incredibly slow offensive starts. So perhaps there is something to that here?

Without stepping on the toes of our resident lineup expert, I’ll share lineup data compiled by Matt Harris to give a glimpse of who has been performing and where.

Now that the data has been shared, the next question is: What are you trying to accomplish? If the goal is to simply win as many games now, you simply play the best five who perform the best together. If you’re wanting to attempt to establish a foundation for future years, you may want to look at shifting to a younger group. And we have our first segue alert!

Question No. 2

I don’t think it matters whether a coach’s seat is warm or not, the best players should get the minutes. And that is generally the case. Mizzou has shuffled lineups frequently early on in the proceedings trying to find something that gives them traction. Without the benefit of getting to see practice, we’re reduced to drawing conclusions from often very small samples. I like what I’ve seen out of Brookshire recently after what could only be described as a slow start. Brazile is freshly removed from the no-play list. Durugordon has been getting spot minutes early in games and often gets late game minutes in lopsided affairs.

We may reach the point where the benefit of getting young guys experience outweighs the playing more experienced players. We may get to the point where those younger players are indeed the better options. If either of those are deemed to have been reached, then yes, I would agree. The one point of caution I would urge, however, is that 9 of the 12 players are in their first year with the program. 10 of 12 are in their first year getting any consequential minutes with the program. Getting those players minutes is the only way to build any semblance of chemistry or to even know whether we’ve reached the aforementioned points.

Question No. 3

Brookshire’s usage is somewhat reflective of what I see as a major issue with the team’s performance early on. Who can make plays on the ball? Mizzou’s offense requires players that are able to create for themselves as well as others when running point. Coleman has battled injuries early on as well as consistency issues. Kobe Brown is asked to do some work on the ball, but is often more effective off. Perhaps it’s not so much a matter of desire, but necessity? It should be noted that of Brookshire’s 15 3-point attempts this year, all have been the catch and shoot variety. Perhaps now that he’s nailed a couple we can expect a few more to go down. Personally, I think Brookshire being able to play on the ball may provide more upside to this group’s natural “fit,” more than if he’s simply asked to be a spot up shooter. It’s something that’s worth monitoring as the sample increases.

Question No. 4

Truth be told, LSU is one of the few SEC teams that I haven’t seen much of this season. That doesn’t mean the number’s can’t tell us a story. Last year, Pinson’s usage rate was 30.7%. This year it’s 21.9%. His percentage of shots taken dropped from 30.7% a year ago to 18.4%. This tells me straight out of the gate that Pinson is more incorporated into the “flow” of the offense this season whereas last year his usage rate indicates he “was” the offense for large portions of the time. His 30.7% usage rate was 35th highest in all of America. There were only 3 high major players that exceeded that number. He used more possessions while on the court than Luka Garza.

In terms of assist rate, yes, his numbers have increased to 30.3% from 24.5%. His turnover rate has also ticked up from 21.0% to 24.3%. With the reduction in percentage of shots taken and those numbers taken together, it does appear that he’s settled into more a distributor’s role.

When looking at his play type data (via Synergysportstech.com ) and where his shots come from, we see:

Pick & Roll Ball-handler

  • 2021: 36%
  • 2022: 34.5%

Spot Up

  • 2021: 21.2%
  • 2022: 16.8%

Transition

  • 2021:20.7%
  • 2022: 19.3%

Isolation

  • 2021: 8.3%
  • 2022: 13.4%

Looking at the “creator-oriented” play types, we see that:

In 2021, 79% of Pinson’s Isolation possessions ended in him shooting and 21% ended in passes. In 2022 those numbers are 80% and 20% respectively. No real change there.

In 2021, 48.2% of Pinson’s possessions as a Pick and Roll Ballhandler ended in shots, 58.5% ended in passes. In 2022, those numbers are 38% and 62% respectively.

So, what I think we’re seeing is two-fold. First, Pinson simply isn’t using as many possessions as he did a year ago. Second, when he’s operating out of ball screens, he’s more likely than in years past to hunt teammates than his shot. Whether that’s by directive or simply a function of personnel, I don’t know. I’ll need to see some of that with my own eyes. And it should all be taken with the caveat that LSU hasn’t played a top 50 team in Pomeroy’s ratings at the time of writing. Last year 50% of his opponents were top 50. So that may have some effect as well.

Question No. 5

This is a fun one to take a crack at. First, some parameters. “Best,” is a judgment call, so you’ll have to take my opinion on that. Next, Norm’s teams came before there was a lot of great publicly available data beyond the traditional box score stats. He also had quite a few teams that could be in the conversation for his “best.” As such, we’ll go with the last five coaches and take a stab at it. Statistics courtesy of KenPom.com.

Cuonzo Martin (2021)

  • Offensive Rating: 110.6 (49th in DI)
  • eFG%: 50.8 (127th)
  • Turnover %: 18.7 (165th)
  • Off Rebound %: 28.5 (151st)
  • Free Throw Rate: 37.1 (44th)
  • Assists/FG Made: 51.6 (179th)

Kim Anderson (2016)

  • Offensive Rating: 104.7 (172nd)
  • eFG%: 47.2 (283rd)
  • Turnover %: 18.0 (171st)
  • Off Rebound %: 26.8% (267th)
  • Free Throw Rate: 39.6 (96th)
  • Assists/FG Made: 49.6 (237th)

Frank Haith (2012)

  • Offensive Rating: 125.1 (1st)
  • eFG%: 58.0% (1st)
  • Turnover %: 15.3 (3rd)
  • Off Rebound %: 29.7 (229th)
  • Free Throw Rate: 37.5 (142nd)
  • Assists/FG Made: 57.6 (69th)

Mike Anderson (2009)

  • Offensive Rating: 116.6 (13th)
  • eFG%: 52.8 (47th)
  • Turnover %: 16.0 (6th)
  • Off Rebound %: 33.3 (94th)
  • Free Throw Rate: 36.6 (172nd)
  • Assists/FG Made: 61.7 (31st)

Quin Snyder (2002)

  • Offensive Rating: 116.2 (12th)
  • eFG%: 53.0 (30th)
  • Turnover %: 20.0 (71st)
  • Off Rebound %: 39.7 (19th)
  • Free Throw Rate: 31.5 (295th)
  • Assists/FG Made: 52.3 (225th)

That 2012 offense was a special, special unit. Not to increase the anxiety around here any more than necessary, but...Laurence Bowers was an elite offensive rebounder, among many other things. He suffered an ACL injury that held him out that season. What could have been?

University of Missouri v University of Illinois Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Question Nos. 6 and 7

I appreciate the question and recognize that it may become relevant in due time. However, it’s not yet ripe. Mizzou has a coaching staff that’s assuredly doing everything they can to get the ship back on course. I’d encourage you to watch as much college basketball as possible in the meantime, both Mizzou and other squads. It’s good for the soul and we only get it for 5 months at a time. That would be a major component of anything I were to put out. I assure you, the top notch basketball staff here at Rock M will be all over every aspect of the program.

We here for you.”

(And watch Succession!)

See above. I will indulge to the extent to say that the job Brown did last year with Wichita was nothing short of amazing. The pile that Marshall hoisted upon him was substantial. Credit to him for the phenomenal work of not only holding that thing together but advancing to the NCAA’s.

Thanks for the questions!