I’ll give this to Cuonzo Martin; he’s resourceful.
Winning is hard, winning in the SEC is harder, and winning on the road in the SEC is the hardest. Martin now has two SEC road wins in a year where he’s got arguably his worst team since he’s been a high major basketball coach.
The second of those wins came with freshman Kaleb Brown playing 28 minutes at point guard. And I don’t mean this to denigrate Kaleb. He’s played his share of tough minutes this season, but his previous high was 18, and he’s only played around 15% of the available minutes so far this season.
So if I’m being honest, if you’d have told me there was any game this season where young Kaleb was going to be on the floor for 28 minutes, I’d have assumed things were going very awry on the floor. I would not have guessed it was in a road game in College Station to stop a losing streak.
But I think Martin has figured something out with this group. They’re still not good. But they’re no longer bad. And that is enough to get you some places in this league.
- One of the things Cuonzo has figured out is how to make this team an efficient offensive basketball team: Mizzou finished with a 1.52 points per shot, 1.23 points per possession, and their eFG% was 62%. They’re playing far slower (sub 60 possessions for the first time this year), but in reducing possessions they’re working to get into sets where they are comfortable attacking as often as possible. It... works. All they have to do is be not horrible from 3, and attack the paint in as many possessions as they can and they’ve got a chance.
- They split the Four Factors, but made the FTA/FGA competitive, and after giving up 6 ORBs in the first half they cut that in half: the offensive rebounding has been an issue lately, they cut into it in the second half. And even then, one of those three offensive boards came at the very end of the game when it no longer mattered, and the other two were deadball rebounds, one of which was Trevon Brazile gathering the defensive board off balance and getting nudged out of bounds.
- Shooting well and cleaning up the rebounding, all that’s left is the turnovers: that still wasn’t great. I’m just not sure what more we can expect from a team with no real primary ball handlers. They’re just at a ball handling disadvantage and the goal is just to make sure you’re taking better shots when you get them.
Your Trifecta: Kobe Brown, Amari Davis, Ronnie DeGray III
On the season: Kobe Brown 32, Amari Davis 22, Jarron Coleman 21, Ronnie DeGray III 19, Javon Pickett 15, DaJuan Gordon 11, Trevon Brazile 8, Sean Durugordon 2, Yaya Keita 1, Jordan Wilmore 1
KOBE’S BACK! Well, he never left. But the advantage of when Kobe is giving them points is he makes the jobs of the other players that much easier. He’s a necessary fixture for positive offensive outcomes. In fact, if he had a primary point guard and anyone who could consistently space the floor, he’d have even more room to operate around the basket.
Ronnie DeGray isn’t going to be a 140 Offensive Rating guy every game, but just having someone who can consistent convert around the basket. And be efficient with his opportunities... man that’s helpful for this team. I just wish he were like 6’9. But DeGray is averaging a 113.0 ORtg on the season, has only been under 100 6 times, and none in the last seven games.
I also have to point out Amari Davis hitting some really big and important shots. The staff has done a really nice job of getting Davis into the actions he’s used to running and the things which made him an high PPG scorer at Green Bay. Let him feast in the mid-range.
Don’t look now but Boogie’s 3FG% is creeping up to 35% now.
Trevon Brazile had a rather unsightly -8 in the plus-minus from the box score... but he was -4 in the second half and considering Texas A&M scored in back to back baskets to open the second half thanks to poor ball handling from Mizzou guards. Brazile didn’t look very engaged in the first half, but in the second half he was very key to the Mizzou run which saw the Tigers recapture control of the momentum. And he was one of the things keeping A&M from going nuclear when something called a Hayden Hefner went ballistic.
BartTorvik.com has a handy tool where you can look at the statistical profile based upon a date range. Here are some relevant stats on our Tigers:
- Current Torvik rating: 135th
- Rating from the start of the season to 12/31: 265th
- Rating from 1/01 to now: 67th
- Rating since 1/15 (after Arkansas): 32nd
This is not to convince anyone to forget the first half of the season, or the blowout losses to Kansas, Kentucky, L*berty, Arkansas, Illinois, Florida State, or UMKC. Even in this stretch they still have a losing record. Since 12/31 they’re 3-7, since 1/15 they’re 2-5. If you want your program to compete for championships you’re not going to be fine with those results.
There was always a more likely scenario where Mizzou figured some things out and became more consistent, while stopping short of being good. Even after their disastrous start. I didn’t expect them to be performing quite like this. As I said up top, winning on the road in the SEC is really hard. It’s how Alabama lost to Missouri and Georgia, and how both were able to take Auburn to the wire. And Mizzou has two road wins, and they were against teams they play home-and-home every year. With the road loss to the other home and home opponent (Arkansas) Mizzou is 2-1 in road games against rivals, and 2-2 against their rivals overall. Pick off Arkansas at home, or beat Ole Miss and you’re .500 in the important games you play each year.
As for the standings, the Tigers are 3-6. there are SIX SEC teams with 6 losses, and one with 5. Mizzou and Mississippi State have both only played 9 games, so Mizzou is a half game back of a tie for 7th, and a half game in front of 13th Ole Miss. Tuesday is Vanderbilt, who just took down LSU, both are teams sitting at 4-6.
Realistically Missouri is a few possessions from being 5-4, and a hand foul from being 6-3. And that’s how close much of this conference really is. A few plays here and there. Hopefully pulling the game out in College Station will give this team a little confidence in the close and late situations from here on out.
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.