Oh, what a difference a year can make. The Missouri Tigers, led by new head coach Dennis Gates, have offered fans an exciting brand of basketball throughout the first four games of the season. The team is currently averaging 94 PPG, 21 APG, and only 12 turnovers per game, which cements itself as one of the most efficient offensive teams in the country.
Before we dive further into how and why that is the case, let’s rewind. In 2021, the Tigers were led by Cuonzo Martin and put together an underwhelming offensive experience. Here are some stats from last season:
- 65 PPG (309th out of 358)
- 12 APG
- 42% FG
- 28% 3PT
- 14 TPG
- 0.8 assist/turnover ratio
Simply put, the Missouri offense had its fair share of struggles and was largely inefficient. In 2021, Missouri did not have a true point guard on the roster, which hindered its ability to even get in its offensive sets a fair share of the time. With that being said, let’s look at the same statistics, but the 2022 version.
- 94 PPG
- 21 APG
- 52% FG
- 35% 3PT
- 12 TPG
- 1.7 assist/turnover ratio
In every statistical category, (albeit a small sample size) Missouri has improved vastly upon last year’s numbers. This year’s team has plenty of willing scorers and oozes confidence, which has been crucial in the offensive uptick. So why are those numbers so greatly improved? Here are three reasons why.
- Depth upon depth: Last season, Missouri only had two players who averaged in double figures— Kobe Brown (12 PPG) and Javon Pickett (11 PPG). Missouri also only had one player that shot over 50% from the field, Trevon Brazille (53%). Coming into this season, Dennis Gates and company were left with three players from last year’s roster. Those three are the Brown brothers - Kobe and Kaleb - and Ronnie DeGray III. That means 12 newcomers would be thrown into the roster, with little time to grow continuity. Despite this, the team has played very well together and has been able to play to each other’s strengths. Also of note, Dennis Gates has gone 10 deep for all four games, with each player making his impact. Currently, five players are averaging in double figures:
- D’Moi Hodge (16.8)
- Noah Carter (14.3)
- Kobe Brown (13.3)
- Nick Honor (11)
- Tre Gomillion (10.3)
Interestingly enough, four of the five are shooting 50% or better, Nick Honor being the odd one out, as he is currently at a 40% clip. In total, seven players have a field goal efficiency of 50% or better, showcasing how deep the roster is, as well as their ability to score at a methodical rate.
2. Having true point guards matters: As formerly mentioned, Missouri did not have a “true” point guard on its roster last season, which was arguably the greatest catalyst that led to an underwhelming year. Anton Brookshire, now at Iona, was poised to be the future at the position under Martin, but after some careless mistakes and horrific shooting, Brookshire saw his minutes rapidly decline throughout the season. Boogie Coleman, Kobe Brown, and Kaleb Brown ran the position by committee, but due to not having the traits that make the position what it is, it’s almost like Missouri was playing 4v5.
Not one Tiger averaged over three assists last season, which exhibits the true lack of ball movement that plagued the whole team. Through four games, Nick Honor, Sean East II, Tre Gomillion, and Kobe Brown all have amassed three APG. Isiaih Mosley has also proven himself to be a willing passer, with three assists in both of the last two outings against Lindenwood and SIUE. Now with actual point guards on the roster, it has allowed the Tigers to play more freely and have more comfortability within its offensive sets.
3. Playing with confidence (Especially from deep): In 2021, Missouri ranked dead last in the SEC in 3pt percentage, with a jaw-dropping 28%. As previously eluded to, Missouri is shooting at a 35% clip from beyond the arc, while attempting 28 per game. Not having a true point guard last season forced Missouri into countless late shot-clock possessions that resulted in numerous forced three-pointers. This season, however, Missouri has changed the pace, offering a hefty amount of early shot-clock possessions. Five Tigers are currently shooting 40% or better from the perimeter. In comparison, only one Tiger shot above 35% last season (DaJuan Gordon). As the competition grows stiffer, expect these numbers to falter slightly, but if the Tigers keep playing with confidence throughout November, who knows just how far that could take them as the team enters its daunting slate in December.