I’m not here for moral victories. If you’re looking for a column preaching how the plucky upstart Tigers ventured into a vaunted venue and hung around and didn’t get embarrassed, well maybe this isn’t for you.
Missouri had an opportunity to win what might end up as one of the best wins in the country yesterday and they failed. Last year they got one of those wins at Tennessee. This year they may not get the same opportunity. And here’s where it’s frustrating; they really had a chance.
Missouri opened the game 15-6, and still led 27-21 and 29-27 with a little over 4 minutes to play. But by that point the Jayhawks had found their footing and ran off a 14-0 run to finish the rest of the first half. The opportunities were spoiled through each and every one of their possessions over those fairly fateful 4-6 minutes of action. And any chance the Tigers had to pull off the upset in Lawrence were wasted.
A turnover by Nick Honor. Not securing a defensive rebound on a miss by Kevin McCullar. A missed three by Connor Vanover. A foul on a three point make on freshman Anthony Robinson. An air-balled three by Noah Carter. A turnover by Noah Carter. Consecutive misses by both Sean East and Tamar Bates inside 12 feet. An air-balled transition three by Honor. A turnover by East. Another turnover by Honor. Then a foul on a three point jumper by Bates. Pick any number of those outcomes and choose another adventure and it’s possible we’re talking about a Mizzou win instead of a 9 point loss.
There are things you can’t do if you’re attempting to pull off a win in Lawrence, and giving up a 14-0 run is at the top of them. Mizzou walked into Phog, stared down the bear, and flinched.
- Defensively Missouri got the game they needed: KU was mediocre offensively and a large part of that was due to the Tigers’ defensive approach. They made post entry difficult and forced Hunter Dickinson to play where he wasn’t comfortable. They made McCullar become a driver and forced him to finish over length. And the Jayhawks struggled in the half court for most of the night. Their offensive efficiency was their 3rd worst on the season ahead of Tennessee and Marquette. But their effective FG% was the worst of the season save for the Marquette game. Remember eFG% attributes for three point shooting, but not free throws, while True Shooting% attributes for FT shooting. Basically, KU shot like crap and free throws saved them.
- While KU shot the ball poorly, so did Missouri: a 1.10 points per shot is amongst their worst so far on the season. Had Mizzou just had an average shooting night and been at 1.30 PPS that’s good for 75 points. So as much as their defense was working, the offense was not. You can single out the two air balls during KU’s end of the first half run, plus Ant Robinson getting a little too lax on his breakaway and right there are 8 points. There was also Aidan Shaw mishandling a lob pass, that’s 10 points... again this was on the table for them.
You valued the ball well enough, you basically held your own shooting the ball. But you didn’t capitalize on the door being open and let KU fire off a 20-2 run in their building. That’s not good enough.
Your Trifecta: Sean East II, Nick Honor, Connor Vanover
On the season: Sean East 23, Noah Carter 12, Nick Honor 9, Caleb Grill 6, Anthony Robinson II 3, Tamar Bates 3, Connor Vanover 2, Jesus Carralero Martin 1, Aidan Shaw 1
It would be nice if Missouri could consistently get something offensively from both Tamar Bates and Aidan Shaw. Right now both are bringing an unbridled amount of energy on defense and both were -12 with a combined 8 points on 9 shots. It seems like Shaw is fine focusing his minutes on doing the few things he knows he can do that the staff wants from him. He’s making huge impacts defensively and at the rim, but he doesn’t even look at the rim when the ball hits his hands on the perimeter. Bates is in a similar boat, as he’s hesitant and not aggressive enough offensively. So while this starting unit has been pretty good, they are hindered by Shaw and Bates who seem worried about making a mistake on the offensive side of the ball instead of using their athleticism to make a play.
So instead the offense has gotten bogged down too much by it becoming The Sean East Show. And don’t get me wrong here, East has been outstanding. Even on what you might call an off-night he still hit 103.5 on his offensive rating and 45% for his floor rate. Basically, he was dragged down by a few too many turnovers and he didn’t finish as many shots at the rim as we’ve gotten used to, but he was otherwise the same Sean East we’ve seen this year. Just really damn good.
Missouri’s issue is they have East with 20 possessions, Nick Honor with 17, and nobody else above 8.4. Maybe that’s a bi-product of Caleb Grill being out, plus John Tonje still not being right, but either way there don’t seem to be enough other options for generating offensive possessions right now. Bates is under 15%, Shaw is under 10%, even Carter is under 20%. They’re just missing something.
There were multiple times on the broadcast where both Fran Fraschilla and Tom Hart referred to this season as a transition year for Dennis Gates. And they are right. If you want to be heartened by Gates, “keeping it close” at Allen Fieldhouse in a transition year, that’s fine. I can’t blame you for feeling like only losing by 9 was a win for Missouri considering the last few years.
But at some point you have to stop losing to Kansas.
The other day on twitter the question was circulating whether Mizzou fans wanted to win this game or win the Cotton Bowl, if you had to choose one. For me, it’s no question... give me the season-altering win over your most hated rival on their home court over a Bowl game that amounts to little more than an exhibition. Don’t get me wrong, winning the Cotton Bowl should never be shrugged off, but that game is a toss up by the Vegas odds, and beating Ohio State on their home field early in the football season would carry a lot more weight with me than beating a stripped down Buckeye team in a game that really doesn’t count for much other than another W or L at the end of the day.
Beating Kansas at Kansas is something that hasn’t happened since 1999. For context, the Football Tigers have won the Cotton Bowl twice since that time. And this isn’t just playing Kansas, it’s playing Kansas AT Phog Allen. We don't have a guarantee this game will happen again. Next year the game returns to Columbia, then two games in Kansas City. That was all the contract called for. I hope both schools re-up for the rest of time, but that’s not guaranteed.
The opportunity was right there, and they missed.
There’s no getting around it.
I did try to set the stage beforehand that winning there is hard, so a win should not be expected. But Missouri did what they needed to do for roughly 35 minutes of game action. They were awful for the other 5. And you know that KU is going to have that run, so you don’t even have to avoid being awful for five minutes, you just have to be a little bit better for the other 35.
I love that Dennis Gates is talking about how he’s still learning as a head coach, and hopefully his ego doesn’t get in the way of the truths he said in that press conference. Understanding that building a real program, the kind Bill Self has at Kansas, doesn’t happen over night. KU has been one of the elite programs in the country for at least 35 years and at most since the dawn of basketball. If Missouri hopes to be that level of a perennial power they need Gates to stick around for 20 plus years, and be great for 20 plus years.
For now that’s not what I’m looking for. I’m looking for Gates and this years team to be better. They’re capable of being better. They’ll have some time to reflect on this missed opportunity and hopefully come out and not miss their next one. Next week they need to beat Seton Hall.
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.
%Min: This is easy, it’s the percentage of minutes a player played which were available to them. That would be 40 minutes, or 45 if the game goes to overtime.
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.
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. This combined with Usage Rate gives you a sense of impact on the floor.
IndPoss: This is approximates how many possessions an individual is responsible for within the teams calculated possessions.
ShotRate%: This is the percentage of teams shots a player takes while on the floor.
AstRate%: Attempts to estimate the number of assists a player has on teammates made field goals when he is on the floor. The formula is basically AST / (((MinutesPlayed / (Team MP / 5)) * Team FGM) - FGM).
TORate%: Attempts to estimate the number of turnovers a player commits in their individual possessions. The formula is simple: TO / IndPoss
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.
In attempting to update Study Hall, I’m moving away from Touches/Possession and moving into the Rates a little more. This is a little experimental so if there’s something you’d like to see let me know and I’ll see if there’s an easy visual way to present it.