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Figuring out the Mizzou Basketball playing rotation

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It’s that time of year, who is in YOUR top 8?

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The annual tradition is back! Almost since I’ve been writing about this program, we’ve done a little “Who’s your top 8?” question on twitter and tallied the answers. The exercise is meant to do two things, force people to trim the 13 (or in this years case, 12) player roster to an amenable workable eight man rotation. And for the first time in several years this is actually a tough question to answer. Or so one would think.

The last few years Cuonzo Martin has kept his roster mostly static, so performing this exercise amounted to the question: “Is anything going to change?”

Last season the top eight looked like this:

  • Dru Smith — 34.1 mpg
  • Mark Smith — 29.6 mpg
  • Jeremiah Tilmon — 27.6 mpg
  • Xavier Pinson — 25.5 mpg
  • Kobe Brown — 21.3 mpg
  • Mitchell Smith — 20.5 mpg
  • Javon Pickett — 17.7 mpg
  • Drew Buggs — 13.7 mpg

Two years ago it looked like this:

  • Dru Smith — 32.9 mpg
  • Javon Pickett — 27.0 mpg
  • Mark Smith — 26.8 mpg
  • Xavier Pinson — 24.0 mpg
  • Mitchell Smith — 21.9 mpg
  • Jeremiah Tilmon — 19.9 mpg
  • Kobe Brown — 18.1 mpg
  • Torrence Watson — 16.9 mpg

You can probably sense a theme. With so much returning production, Mizzou basically swapped Torrence Watson for Drew Buggs, who provided primary ball handling.

So for the first time in a few years we’re going to see massive turnover in minutes, with the only two exceptions being Kobe Brown and Javon Pickett. Jordan Wilmore returns to the roster as well as the only other player who saw minutes last year. Those three combined for just 19.7% of the overall minutes played last year, or less than one position on the floor for each game.

With so little coming back, who’s gonna play? Here are your candidates:

  1. Returning: Javon Pickett, Senior Wing, 17.7 mpg, 6.2 ppg
  2. Returning: Kobe Brown, Junior Combo Forward, 21.3 mpg, 8.0 ppg
  3. Returning: Jordan Wilmore, Sophomore Post, 4.4 mpg, 0.8 ppg
  4. Transfer: Jarron Coleman, Junior Combo Guard, 27.0 mpg, 13.8 ppg - Ball State
  5. Transfer: Amari Davis, Junior Combo Guard, 35.3 mpg, 17.2 ppg - Green Bay
  6. Transfer: DaJuan Gordon, Junior Wing, 28.6 mpg, 9.1 ppg - Kansas State
  7. Transfer: Ronnie DeGray III, Sophomore Combo Forward, 27.4 mpg, 8.7 ppg - UMass
  8. Freshman: Anton Brookshire, Combo Guard, 3-star ranked 140th
  9. Freshman: Trevon Brazile, Post, 3-star, ranked 178th
  10. Freshman: Yaya Keita, Post, 3-star, ranked 199th
  11. Freshman: Sean Durugordon, 3-star, ranked 229th
  12. Freshman: Kaleb Brown, 3-star, ranked 322nd

10 players received votes. The only players who did not get voted into a top 8 spot were Kaleb Brown and Jordan WIlmore. The structure of confidence seems to lie upon Kobe Brown, Jarron Coleman, and Amari Davis as being the three who showed up on every ballot, while Javon Pickett and DaJaun Gordon were left off one ballot each. Yaya Keita was left off two, Brookshire three, DeGray four... and Sean Durugordon and Trevon Brazile made up the remainder of the voting. Here’s the breakdown:

Kobe - 15
Coleman - 15
Davis - 15
Pickett - 14
Gordon - 14
Keita - 13
Brookshire - 12
DeGray - 11
Durugordon - 6
Brazile - 5

Twitter is very obviously an inexact science. But I think this is actually pretty close to where I am in the process. I do believe Zo will play closer to 10 guys a night, with the latter two getting minutes and time enough to keep them engaged but not nearly as much as the guys at the top of the roster. If I had to guess on a minutes leader, I’d go with Coleman, mainly for his scoring and versatility.

While I do think Kobe and Javon Pickett will be in the top 8, I think they may be closer to 4th and 6th in minutes versus 2nd and 3rd. My take on the starting five at this point is: Coleman, Gordon, Pickett, Brown, DeGray, with Keita, Davis, and Brookshire as the top 3 off the bench.

The are a couple areas where I think I (and maybe we — by extension those who voted in this exercise) may end up wrong. If Martin opts to start with a more traditional post at the five spot, I think he could go with Keita at the 5. I also think you could see Amari Davis slide into the starting lineup and move Pickett to the bench. Davis brings a little more scoring punch but after watching Martin all these years I just have a feeling he’s gonna have his all-gritty team out there to start, so that’s why I think Davis starts on the bench and brings scoring off the bench, with Gordon and Pickett being a little more of the defensive stopping unit.

I think you’ll see 10 players averaging between 8 and 30 minutes, Coleman as the leader in minutes and I’m skeptical of any freshman averaging more than 20.

What do you think? Who are your top 8?

How do you get to 40 minutes?

  • Coleman, 29 minutes
  • Davis, 26 minutes
  • Kobe, 23 minutes
  • Gordon, 23 minutes
  • DeGray, 23 minutes
  • Brookshire, 20 minutes
  • Pickett, 19 minutes
  • Keita, 15 minutes
  • Brazile, 13 minutes
  • Durugordon, 9 minutes

We’ll see how this stands up. As someone told me on twitter... WE HAVE FOUR MONTHS until the season!