Time does a funny thing to our memory.
Last night at halftime at Mizzou Arena, the 1994 and 2009 Elite Eight teams were honored during Alumni weekend. As the former players and coaches streamed onto the floor, one figure stood with them which might have seemed improbable 13 years ago. In late March of 2011, Mike Anderson accepted the head coaching position at the University of Arkansas. Leaving Missouri after five seasons. Anderson had restored the roar at Mizzou, rebuilding from the ashes of the end of the Quin Snyder era. He’d taken Mizzou to three straight tournaments and left for a place he’d spent a lot of time.
In April of 2011, I don’t think there were many Mizzou fans too keen on Mike Anderson. Many fans bristled, Like most fan bases who have been left behind. He was given unflattering nicknames like “Suitcase Mike” and then a few years later when he returned to Mizzou Arena as a visiting coach he was booed. But there he was last night, being quietly applauded for his role in rebuilding Mizzou back into a respected brand. (Editor’s note: he actually got quite a healthy amount of applause, as time appears to have healed old wounds)
Perhaps it helps what followed. Anderson left Mizzou in (mostly) good shape, Frank Haith turned that into a 2 seed the following year and another NCAA trip the next. His worst season was an NIT trip when he left for a lesser job offering him more money (yes, his contract at Tulsa had more value than what he was making in Columbia!). We know what followed.
The dark era.
And despite some highs here and there, the program is still mostly stuck in the muck of the dark era. Since Anderson left Mizzou is just 214 - 199 for a .518% win rate. Considering Haith won 30 games the next year with Anderson's roster you could realistically put the number at 184 - 194 (.486%). Post Haith it’s 138 - 171 (.447%).
Maybe it’s helped some that Anderson didn’t find the success he had at Missouri anywhere else. He lasted 8 seasons at Arkansas, and wasn’t bad but wasn’t elite either. He made just three NCAA tournaments and could hang his hat on his best season with a 5-seed when Bobby Portis was on the roster. He was fired, and then hired at St. John’s. True enough it was an odd fit, and he was fired after four years of just being okay.
But while Anderson and his team were being celebrated, Dennis Gates was tending to the wreckage of his 2023-24 season. At halftime the game wasn’t out of hand, Mizzou trailed 30-26 while both teams struggled to score the ball. But things quickly got that way as MSU ratcheted up the pressure and were able to generate a few more easy looks. Before long the lead expanded up to as much as 29, but it felt over well before that.
You may have noticed I added some categories. I wanted to get some of the raw makes and attempts into the chart. With the way Missouri wants to play, seeing the attempts disparity between both teams (not just last night) I figure should be helpful.
- And getting outshot in attempts from the field while also shooting worse is how you get blown out.
- This is Dennis Gates's third time playing Mississippi State: and twice now having been held below 0.80 points per possession. Last season's win yielded just a 0.96 ppp. And last night's 0.71 is the worst mark of the Dennis Gates era.
- For me the biggest culprit here was the turnovers: Mizzou turned the ball over with as much frequency as they did against Kansas last year.
There simply isn’t the depth available to withstand turning the ball over the way they did. MSU won the rebounding battle but their percentage was actually below estimated rebounds, so that’s nearly a win. Except Mizzou could only muster four offensive boards. So -8 in turnovers and -6 in offensive rebounds is where you get the difference adding up. It doesn’t help that the defense got far leakier as the lead expanded, with Mizzou giving up 45 points and over 1.3 points per possession in the second half.
Your Trifecta: Noah Carter, Nick Honor, Aidan Shaw
On the season: Sean East II 41, Tamar Bates 31, Noah Carter 27, Nick Honor 19, Caleb Grill 6, Anthony Robinson II 5, Connor Vanover 4, Aidan Shaw 4, Trent Pierce 3, Jesus Carralero-Martin 2, Jordan Butler 1
This chart, and the one below, is as ugly as I’ve seen. Take, for example, that Aidan Shaw landed in the trifecta mostly on the basis of his making his two shot attempts. His first was a dunk with under 8 minutes to play in the game to cut the lead to 19. And his next basket was with under a minute left to cut the lead to 26. He had an otherwise unremarkable game, but everyone else was so bad that his Adjusted GameScore landed just behind Nick Honor, who seemed to be the only real offensive threat for the Tigers.
Honor, meanwhile, would have had a better score were it not for his 5 turnovers. The turnovers, again, were problematic in multiple ways. Without Sean East, the only consistent reliable scoring Missouri has gotten has been from Tamar Bates and Honor, and they combined for half of the team's turnovers.
Tamar has had so much pressure put on him, and he had stepped up in a big way. But this performance had been trending for a few games now. Up until the Vanderbilt game Bates usage has skyrocketed and his efficiency was largely the same. His shot-making was making up for his rising turnover rate. But in the last three games you could see the defensive focus of each team doing everything they could to take him out of what he wanted to do and how much effort it was taking to get to his numbers.
I think that all caught up with him against MSU. Nothing was easy for Bates. And as difficult as offense was for the entire team, the defensive help was geared towards clogging driving lanes and walling off to make every touch labor some. It worked for State as Tamar had his worst game as a Tiger.
And therein lies more of the problem with where things are. There isn’t enough help for someone like Tamar to have an off night. We’ve seen what things look like when Tamar is scoring and Nick Honor is scoring. They’re a bit more competitive. If you add in Noah Carter it inches further upward. But without the depth to be able to get consistent offensive from multiple spots it’s hard for this team to stay in games much less win.
This is basically where the wheels have come off.
This roster needed a full healthy group to be solid. Without John Tonje they sink a little but it’s sustainable still. Lose Caleb Grill and now the lineup is beginning to show signs of stress. Mizzou was still in games but couldn’t close them. The different players have dipped in and out of the lineup for different reasons until Sean East bangs his knee against Vanderbilt and now the stress causes the rope to snap. And we’ve seen consecutive bad losses in the second half of each game.
There’s just not enough juice.
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 on 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 that 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 approximates how many possessions an individual is responsible for within the team’s calculated possessions.
ShotRate%: This is the percentage of a team’s 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.