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Film Room: Vanderbilt

A road trip to Nashville looked a little too much like early season Missouri.

Missouri v Iowa State Photo by David K Purdy/Getty Images

Welcome to The Film Room

In this series we’re going to cut up recent game film to take a look at what the Tigers were doing, and at times, what they weren’t. Film study is in important aspect of basketball. It’s not a matter of simply looking at film and seeing what sets produced baskets (or stops on defense), but rather, what the offense produced in terms of quality of opportunity and what the defense prevented. While most of the commentary will focus on the offensive end, the defensive end is just as important and will get some attention as well.

At the outset, I see film and statistical analysis as effectively a four step process. First, you want to look at what actions/plays a team runs. Styles and systems vary wildly in the college game. How are teams trying to generate looks? Who are the looks generated for? Second, you want to look at the efficiency of those actions/plays that are run, determining how many points per possession are gained (or prevented). Third, you look at whether the scheme, or game plan, is optimizing the actions/plays that are most efficient in a matchup. Is the offense creating looks for the right guys, shooting the right shots in the right quantity? Finally, it’s a matter of execution. Getting the shots you want on offense still requires those looks to be converted. Nothing can paper over bad offense better than elite shot-making, after all.

This series will primarily look at the first and third points. What plays are Mizzou running? What is the opponent doing on the defensive end to counter those actions? What about when Mizzou is on defense? I would suggest that while viewing offensive sets, look at what the defense is doing, no matter who has the ball. Are the defenders being forced to make decisions in leaving shooters open? Are cuts, screens, etc. causing defenders to be out of position? Are ball screens covered effectively? Those are generally hallmarks of effective offense.

Pull up a seat and let’s get started.

After what proved to be one of Mizzou’s most efficient offensive performances last Saturday in College Station, the road became a bit bumpier in Nashville. What has become a factor for teams inexperienced with Memorial Gymnasium’s unique shooting back drop, Tiger jump shots were not falling for much of the game. Contained within we’ll see how the Tigers were attacking the Commodores’ various defensive sets and one Mizzou defensive possession.

Starting at the usual jumping off point, the first set of clips will show what Mizzou was seeing out of Vanderbilt when the Tigers had the ball.

Throughout most of the night, Vanderbilt was content to stick with a contained half court man-to-man defense. However, at times they brought varying looks. Here is one such example. Vanderbilt begins the possession by applying pressure well beyond mid court. After the Tigers are able to break the pressure and set up their offense (note: 18 seconds remain on the shot clock), Vandy returns to their man set. In the initial Horns action Mizzou runs, Brazile’s man sags well into the paint to prevent any pass to the cutter. Then, notice Coleman’s defender (Pippen). Instead of chasing the action out to the 3 point line, he simply stays put in the paint. Whether by design or breakdown, Vandy was content with allowing Mizzou shooters to have those shots. It does appear he’s calling for help and doesn’t receive it. No matter, if it was a concern, you’re not relying on calling out a switch from that position.

(Matt Harris): Jerry Stackhouse left his imprint here. The Vandy coach switched defensive looks based on MU’s personnel. Late in the first half, the Commodores ramped up their press with MU’s weaker ball-handlers on the floor. Or he tossed out different zone looks, which coincided with Kobe Brown sitting. So, instead of having its best player feasting in the mid-post, MU scuffled and settled.

The following clips are reflective of some of the opportunities the Tigers were able to generate in transition after getting stops on the defensive end.

In what has become a familiar theme in these reviews, Kobe secures the ball and creates a transition opportunity with court awareness. A quick outlet pass with 3 Vandy players below the free throw line springs a 2 on 1 which Mizzou converts easily.

It’s almost like Kaleb and Kobe are related. After the Tigers are able to create an opportunistic turnover off a baseline out of bounds trap, Kaleb pulls a Kobe and engineers a 3 on 2 break when the opportunity presented itself.

Continuing the theme, Mizzou once again catches Vanderbilt deep on their end of the floor and a quick, effective outlet springs a transition opportunity. Transition opportunities are the function of: 1. Getting stops, 2. Sprinting the Floor, and 3. Good outlet passes and/or dribble pushes.

When Mizzou wasn’t able to get looks on the run and was forced to operate in the half court, I will present to you that there were MANY possessions that resulted in open jump shooting opportunities. Now, there may be an argument to be made about whether those sets should’ve resulted in open jump shots, but they did. The Tigers took them. Nearly 20 of their 25 attempts were open three point jump shots. However, since it wasn’t working at the level it needed to be, we’ll focus more on things that were working.

(MH): We had wondered whether MU might introduce some variations of Horns, and here we go. Jarron Coleman runs a UCLA cut and clears to set a flex screen for DaJuan Gordon. What’s nifty, though, is the seamless blend of Kobe Brown screening the screener, Coleman sprinting into a handoff, and Brazile rolling. Meanwhile, notice how Brown lifts as Brazile dives. Quentin Millora-Brown’s stuck in drop coverage, and nobody tags Brazile. All Coleman must do is serve up the lob.

The Tigers are once again running their Gut action. The initial action provides little opportunity, but Pickett’s return immediately ups the Tigers’ efficacy on off ball cuts. He simply walks his man up the sideline and darts baseline. Few things are more effective than players who move well off the ball. Pickett is gifted in this regard.

After a short debate between the Matt’s, we decided this is mostly a case of freelance offense. Despite the often pejorative connotation with this term, it doesn’t have to be that way. This clip exemplifies why. What we see here is a nice two man game instead of a rigid set play. Was it the makings of a Gut screen/re-screen? Was this the intended action? It doesn’t truly matter. Kobe sets what appears to be a pin down screen off of which Davis curls into one of his hot zones. With Davis drawing the attention of both his own man as well as Kobe’s, Kobe dives to the basket and a nice pocket pass leads to a trip to the line.

Here, we do see the Tigers running their Gut action. The initial action is jammed up. After a reversal, the Tigers overload the nearside of the floor. Pickett sprints from the far-side wing to set a back screen for Kobe at the top of the key. Kobe executes a nice circle cut to the rim. A little brotherly love completes the highlight reel play.

(MH): Inverting DeGray creates a void for Brown to fill in the mid-post, and once the ball reverses back to the second side, there’s an easy post-up. Pickett’s initial occupies one help defender, and DeGray dives as Liam Robbins ball-watches. One of the few times, too, the Tigers created this situation.

(MH): This is more about mentality than scheme. It’s the base action of Gut. Nothing fancy. Gordon’s just decided to assert himself after rejecting the re-screen.

And finally, we’ve entered the emphatic rejection by Brazile portion of the piece.

The scout will eventually take root, but if Brazile is lurking around the restricted arc, challenging him at the rim will generally work out in Mizzou’s favor.

Thanks for reading!