Exhaustion is a word I’d use to describe the post game press conference, after Cuonzo Martin marched his beleaguered squad off the floor at the Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge on Saturday night.
The past offseason Martin and his assistant coaches hit a hard reset on the roster. From the outside looking in, there were going to be questions about the ball handling, but the roster seemed to fit what Martin had professed to want to do with his playing style. Meaning, it was a deep roster full of longer athletes who didn’t fit into a specific position and they could run. What I’m sure seemed like good ideas at the time has turned into the equivalent of the 30 Rock writers room putting together a show in the middle of a gas leak.
Full disclosure, I didn’t watch the entire game. I went out to dinner (St. Louisans go to Little Fox if you can get in), and watched some of it Sunday morning. But it looked the same. Missouri was able to make some noise in the middle stretch of their season when they went on a run facing some very non-elite defenses. The offense looked competent against Alabama and Ole Miss, or Texas A&M and Florida. But an elite defensive team is able to cause the Tigers all sorts of problems. And LSU is an elite defensive team. So the results followed suit.
- You probably aren’t going to win many games where you shoot less than 40% eFG: Mizzou beat Bradley last season, and Kennesaw State two seasons ago, shooting worse while still winning. That makes Mizzou 2-16 in games where they’ve shot that poorly under Cuonzo Martin (I’ll have more on this later).
- Struggling to score while turning the ball over: even when Mizzou was getting shots they were still kind of meh. A 0.98 points per shot isn’t good, but then to not generate free throws AND turn the ball over... well that’s a bad recipe.
- As much as we tend to focus on offense: The defense just can’t cut it. They seem to come out with a good plan (ball screen trapping Xavier Pinson to force turnovers) but giving up 1.11 points per possession to a team who struggles to score the ball is an equally big problem.
Your Trifecta: Javon Pickett, Amari Davis, Trevon Brazile
On the season: Kobe Brown 42, Ronnie DeGray III 28, Javon Pickett 26, Amari Davis 24, Jarron Coleman 24, Trevon Brazile 13, DaJuan Gordon 13, Sean Durugordon 2, Yaya Keita 1, Jordan Wilmore 1
I’ll give Javon Pickett at least one thing, he’s not going down without a fight. Pickett has been defending his coaches in press conferences, and he’s been playing as hard as I’ve ever seen him play down the stretch here. But it’s just not enough. If you told me Pickett took 16 shots in a game, I’d have first asked if it was against Illinois, and when you said no I would have said Mizzou took a loss. For a while there was a Mizzou meme which said that if Javon scored double digits it was an indicator of a win. But that was generally on teams where he wasn’t taking 16 shots to score 14 points. If Javon is shooting the ball 6-7 times and getting double digits, you feel a lot better. But there is simply just too much of an offensive load on him.
And part of the reason the load was on Javon, is Kobe Brown went missing. He took just 3 shots and was a non-factor. Mizzou had 3 shot clock violations and multiple near misses, and Brown was never the guy shooting the last shot. For a guy who has been Missouri’s best player all year long, he was completely taken out of his game by LSU.
Protect Trevon Brazile at all costs. I’ll never be a guy who says one player can make or break a roster, but whatever things look like next year, Mizzou would be better off if Brazile is a part of that roster. He’s got the highest ceiling (by far) on this roster, and should only get better.
Getting back to the eFG% note I started above. I looked into it a little because I was curious. The LSU game was the 6th game this season where Mizzou has shot worse than 40% eFG, and they’ve lost all six. Under Martin, Missouri has played in 18 games where they had a 40.0% eFG or worse. Kim Anderson coached 25 such games. Over the last 8 years Missouri has played 215 basketball games and 43 games they failed to hit that 40% mark.
If you think this season is bad (and it is!), just keep in mind how bad things were under Anderson. 25 such games in 3 years, one win (a 59-56 home win over Western Kentucky — I’m sure you all remember that game).
But talking about this is more about me saying, we’ve watched a lot of rough basketball in the last eight seasons. Cuonzo Martin isn’t responsible for Kim Anderson, but he hasn’t lifted the program up out of those doldrums. The two NCAA tournament seasons were mostly fun (strangely just four of the 18 games with sub-40% eFG shooting occurred in the tourney seasons), but that means 6 seasons of really dreadful basketball and it mostly feels like it’s just inundated everything.
I don’t know what the future holds, and inevitably cycles change in College sports. I just know Missouri badly needs to change the cycle. For too long they’ve been erratic at best, and dreadful at worst. How they change the cycle is certainly the point of debate.
True Shooting Percentage (TS%): Quite simply, this calculates a player’s shooting percentage while taking into account 2FG%, 3FG%, and FT%. The formula is Total Points / 2 * (FGA + (0.475+FTA)). The 0.475 is a Free Throw modifier. KenPomeroy and other College Basketball sites typically use 0.475, while the NBA typically uses 0.44. That’s basically what TS% is. A measure of scoring efficiency based on the number of points scored over the number of possessions in which they attempted to score, more here.
Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%): This is similar to TS%, but takes 3-point shooting more into account. The formula is FGM + (0.5 * 3PM) / FGA
So think of TS% as scoring efficiency, and eFG% as shooting efficiency, more here.
Expected Offensive Rebounds: Measured based upon the average rebounds a college basketball team gets on both the defensive and offensive end. This takes the overall number of missed shots (or shots available to be rebounded) and divides them by the number of offensive rebounds and compares them with the statistical average.
AdjGS: A take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds. It takes points, assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls into account to determine an individual’s “score” for a given game. The “adjustment” in Adjusted Game Score is simply matching the total game scores to the total points scored in the game, thereby redistributing the game’s points scored to those who had the biggest impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.
Offensive Rating (ORtg): Similar to Adjusted game score, but this looks at how many points per possession a player would score if they were averaged over 100 possessions.
Usage%: This “estimates the % of team possessions a player consumes while on the floor” (via sports-reference.com/cbb). The usage of those possessions is determined via a formula using field goal and free throw attempts, offensive rebounds, assists and turnovers. The higher the number, the more prevalent a player is (good or bad) in a team’s offensive outcome.
Floor%: Via sports-reference.com/cbb: Floor % answers the question, “When a Player uses a possession, what is the probability that his team scores at least 1 point?”. The higher the Floor%, the more frequently the team probably scores when the given player is involved.
Touches/Possession: Using field goal attempts, free throw attempts, assists and turnovers, touches attempt to estimate, “the number of times a player touched the ball in an attacking position on the floor.” Take the estimated touches and divide it by the estimated number of possessions for which a player was on the court, and you get a rough idea of how many times a player touched the ball in a given possession. For point guards, you’ll see the number in the 3-4 range. For shooting guards and wings, 2-3. For an offensively limited center, 1.30. You get the idea.
Anyway, using the Touches figure, we can estimate the percentage of time a player “in an attacking position” passes, shoots, turns the ball over, or gets fouled.