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Dive Cuts rewind: a Connor Vanover breakdown.

Taking a look at Mizzou Basketball’s latests big commitment.

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NCAA Basketball: Summit Conference Tournament Championship-North Dakota State v Oral Roberts Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

This past weekend Oral Roberts transfer Connor Vanover committed to Mizzou. The 7’5” center fills the big hole Dennis Gates and the crew have been looking for to fill out this roster. Below is an excerpt from our latest episode of Dive Cuts where Matt and Sam sat down to discuss Connor’s game.

Transcript from the episode


Seven foot five inch beanpole Connor Vanover via Oral Roberts via Arkansas via Cal has made his way to Columbia for an official visit. We’ve talked about Vanover in the previous podcast. I don’t know if you and I but I know that Watkins and I talked about him a little bit last week. Yeah as as as a possibility. I am always leery of like really, really tall, kind of lumbering guys who can be played off the floor. He, he is that guy in the right context. And I believe that Paul Mills did a good job of finding context. Granted, it’s it’s a very different league. You have to finding good context for for Connor and putting him in better positions. Yeah because certainly hedging ball screens is not where you want Connor Vanover.


No, this is one where I’m sure if he commits Arkansas fans are going to invade mentions, you know, slandering him and saying he’s terrible. I think a lot you know, any transfer is really about role and fit. I think Connor Vanover can work in the right system or if you or you make the right tweaks. You know when he went to Oral Roberts you know Oral Roberts switches everything you know, they do get out and they do hedge ball screens. But if it’s, you know, a 1-5 ball screen, Connor’s in deep drop coverage. And, you know, they’re having that guy kind of get out a little bit and they have some guys pre-rotate from the help side into gaps. So they put some stuff in place to account for that and do count for the fact that, you know, he’s not a guy who you can really trust laterally or to recover back. You know, I don’t think that’s me. You know, speaking ill of the kid, that’s what the tape shows. Teams, when he played at Arkansas, attacked the living hell out of him in ball screens. You know, they hunted him, you know. In the summit some drop coverage and some smart help tweaks can mitigate that because it’s the 24th best league in the country. We’re going to start with that negative because I think that’s the rub here for Missouri is, you know, when we started the spring, finding a big was about, you know, really I think finding a guy who could fit what they wanted to do on the defensive end of the floor. And that was a guy like Kaden Cedric who could play multiple ball screen coverages but was still good enough to get back and play in the post. You know, still had enough, you know, was light enough on his feet. He could do that, but still had enough know of a sturdy build that he could play in the block. That’s not Connor. You can move Connor on the block. You can play him in space. So we’ll start by saying we get it. There are concerns about that into the floor, but that’s why you pay Dennis Gates $4 million a year. That’s why you pay the staff more than $1,000,000 a year to figure out how to mitigate those things. And I don’t think they’re going to do what Eric Musselman did, which is essentially punt and put him on the bench. But I think you need context for why Muss did that. Muss really doesn’t play more than seven guys. And once Jalen Williams was good to go, there was those minutes were for Jalen and they weren’t for anybody else. And so Connor got sidelined and, you know, rebooted last year.


Well, that was also that was wasn’t that Justin Smith too? And when he kind of got healthy and, you know they started playing smaller with him at the five because yeah, he was like a 3-4 hybrid at Indiana.


Yeah they they started to go the last two years. Really they started to go smaller at their five spot. This year they went back bigger. What with the Mitchell twins you could still kind of attack a little bit in ball screens if you got him in the right spot. It was just Muss is ruthless in like the best sense of the word. He will optimize his line up for the very best thing it can do and just beat you to death with it. And that’s what he did. And there are guys who, if you don’t fit that, there’s not pity minutes there. Muss is not going to throw you 5 to 10 minutes a game to keep you. Muss trusts himself to go into the portal and get someone to do what he needs to do. You know, Connor didn’t fit what that vision was. He had to go to Oral Roberts to find a staff that would make some adaptations for him. The question is, if he comes to Missouri, if he commits to Missouri, what does that look like? What does that role look like? What does that fit look like? And to what degree is Missouri going to use him within its rotation? So I think we’ll start with the questions first there, because they you can’t really talk about this potential addition without going at those first. And we hear it. We know what people will say. And it’s there’s some validity to it. This is where you trust the creativity of the staff to to overcome it. And we’d have to see what they would do. But, you know, you can’t downplay them that they exist for a reason.


Well yeah, And I think as a time that you have been exposed to to a player as as sort of as much as we were as Missouri fans exposed to you know, Vanover and sort of what Drew Smith and Jeremiah Tilmon you know, did with them. You know, like there’s always going to be like a pause. Like one of the reasons why Missouri, you know, had success against that Arkansas team was because, like Jeremiah Tilmon was not fazed by Vanover’s size you know, Drew Smith was not worried about, you know, attacking, you know, downhill against him. And Missouri put him defensively in positions against. So this is kind of on Muss not like what he was doing and asking you know a guy with that level of mobility out on the perimeter to do defensively you know but there’s definitely like one of those things where you are hoping with you know an up transfer like this that that there is, you know, the understanding of the staff that they’re they’re going to do the right thing with them. They’re not just going to ask him to play the same way they asked Noah Carter to play. They’re not going to ask him to play like, you know, Kobe Brown. Yeah, you know that that what are even like Mo Diarrah like you can’t you can’t expect Vanover to come in and even defend like Mo Diarrah was able to defend on the perimeter. So I think, you know, you’re definitely looking at different styles of defense. You’re, you’re looking at, you know, buying some time. Yeah, more, more minutes in the zone. You know, Missouri shown that they can be, you know pretty tough with the zone defense and and junk it up a little bit. And I think I think Dennis Gates sort of shown throughout his coaching career that he’s not afraid to to sort of be a little bit junky defensively and and just get creative with with like the talent he has on hand. I think if they land a guy like Cedric, you probably see exactly what Dennis Gates wants to to be. You know defensively. They didn’t and so you you change what you want to do a little bit and yeah I think he’s shown at least in his brief tenure at Missouri and previously at Cleveland State that he’s creative and and he’ll he’ll figure out a way to kind of utilize what he has so and this is all saying like we don’t even know if that’s that yeah like if he’s going to commit he might might take a minute make that a Wichita State. See what Paul Mills is talking about if he’s going to fit there, you know, but if he does commit how he fits, I think it’ll it’ll be interesting to to watch how Gates kind of deploys both him and Carralero, who I think, you know, there are also some questions about.


The what I will say is this is I like this better than Jimmy Bell. Just that that entire of process was was kind of head scratching because Jimmy Bell okay rebounder not a great shot blocker no skill on offense grades out worse than Vanover in pick and roll defense. So by almost every account it made less sense to look at Jimmy Bell than than this move. So I think you know you can say that they’ve at least, you know, found someone that’s a little better fit that the upside here is...another thing that I would point out is they’re looking at a guy like Jamarion Sharp who has some mobility has some, you know, lateral quickness but can still get attacked in ball screens, can still get moved in post-ups. And Missouri fans for two years were salivating over the idea of Jamarion Sharp and there were real questions about what he could do against SEC caliber bigs on the block and against stronger bigs on the block to hold position to box out and win contested rebounds. The one thing that tips this I think in you know favor of of contraband over is there’s a better offensive fit here. He’s a guy who is not a banger on the block. He’s not going to be a guy who you’re going to run a lot of punch plays for. He’s a guy who is going to set screens, pop. He’s going to roll or he’s going to slip on. You can space him a little bit. He can shoot trail threes. He’s going to keep your spacing the way you want and he can play and some dribble hand offs he can play and, you know, some actions around the elbow. Again, understanding that this is a guy who, if you look at his history, is probably more of a roll guy between 12 and 15 minutes game but he can come in and he can, you know, do the things you need him to do to keep the offense flowing, to keep it in rhythm. And the real question is going to be, you know, his shot is he’s a streaky three point shooter. Can you maybe shift him more towards a rim finisher. That’s not quite as much of what he was. Oral Roberts, They gave him carte blanche to pull and he pulled a lot. But he’s a better fit, I think, offensively, you know, more developed than Cedric offensively and definitely ahead of Jimmy Bell. But that’s being balanced against, you know, like we just talked about extensively, you know, his defensive, you know, what he brings to the defense on the floor and are, you know, really swapping it out and getting a net push. But I think the bigger deal as well is this we can talk about this if you want, is I think it really spares you from getting into some dicey rotations and set ups, lineups, you know, in the front court. I really think I would have had reservations if Jesus Carralero was your backup five. I think there would have been a lot of questions or there will be a lot of questions if that’s the case. Landing, you know, Connor Vanover, I think would would help the structure of the frontcourt and be a little bit more logical if they can get him in and understanding that he’s buying in to, you know, sort of a reserve role here. But we’ll see. We’ll see what what they come away with.


Yeah. And at least, you know, reserve kind of minutes because I think one of the things that, you know, having you know, somebody who can eat up more minutes five against you as it does allow you know Noah Carter to you know play a little bit more of the playmaking guy at the four you know, which he’s shown a propensity to, you know, be efficient in that role. And I think it’s probably more of a comfort level than him being a true five. Yeah. It also allows you to, you know, mix and match in the front court with, you know, whether it’s, Noah Carter, Aidan Shaw, Trent Pierce and you know, getting guys like, you know, those younger guys more experience in a more comfortable spot, you know, like not having to find 12 to 15 minutes of center play from, you know, some kind of combination of Aidan Shaw or Trent Pierce or, you know, Jordan Butler not not needing those guys and then taking, you know, what they provide you. You know, once they they sort of show up and get more acclimated.


Yeah. And you can also, I think put, you know, Jesus more in the four spot where I think he’ll be a better fit as facilitating big in that spot So landing Connor Vanover presuming that’s that’s the goal here and they wouldn’t bring them on campus if it wasn’t I think you know we can nitpick and we can have genuine qualms about his game and fit. But on balance I think it would be a, you know, a pick up that, you know, we can look at and say, okay, this is a net positive for for the program if they can get him in again, particularly at this point because, man, the shelves are empty. The shelves are empty right now. And, you know, if you just look at the potential, you know, performance rating for VANOVER, he’s he’s probably one of the four or five best options still on the board right now. Hey, Evan Mia BPR, loves him. Yup. And he’s one of the top 25 bigs this spring in terms of that BPR rating. So to get a guy like that in early June, you know that that’s that’s better than the alternative right now because after that, once you get outside of Vanover, Olivier Nkamhoua Grant Nelson, you’re starting to really like have to hope that David Muoka a bench guy for UNLV could help you. Then you’re really getting into either freshman like Adrame Diongue who we’ve talked about, you’re looking at Isaiah Miranda, who isn’t considering Missouri, and then just guys who are really, really real deep in the weeds here. If Connor Vanover committed tonight, he’d be the 95th big out of like the top 110 bigs to come off the board. We’re we’re late. This is so this is you can’t really nitpick at this point and you know on balance it’s it’s probably the best you could do right now outside of Nkamhoua or Nelson at this juncture in the portal postseason.

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