Thursday, November 25, 2010
So far this season, Missouri is 4-0 with a weak early schedule. Three out of the four wins have been less than 12 points, with the one exception being a 96-58 victory over North Florida. Statistically, the Tigers have continued the play they are well known for. They are currently 20th in the nation in pace (adj tempo of 71.9 possessions) and 9th in the nation at forcing turnovers. Mike Anderson's press has done its job against inferior teams, holding all four opponents under the national average of 1.01 points per possession.
The press makes Mizzou a very interesting team to watch. Coach Anderson keeps his players fresh and stick to his system. Against North Florida, the Tigers showed why the press works so effectively. Three keys really stood out from watching that game:
1) Trap the corners and use the sideline to create bad decisions leading to turnovers.
2) Make the opposition use up time and prevent them from getting into their offense.
3) Rotate to the open man out of the double team to avoid easy shots.
The first key is what most associate with fullcourt pressure defense. Turnovers not only prevent the other team from getting shots, but also lead to transition baskets. In the clip below, Missouri was able to trap right at the sideline immediately after North Florida crossed half court. The Tigers forced a bad pass out that went out of bounds.
The second key is equally as important for Missouri. Teams have to use a fair amount of time and energy to get by the initial pressure. Once the press is broken, the Tigers don't back off and let North Florida relax. Instead, they keep ball pressure and make it hard for UNF to get anything started. UNF is forced to frantically drive to the hoop with 5 seconds left in the shot clock, resulting in a strip and transition basket.
The final key is crucial for Mizzou when the press doesn't create the initial turnover. Everyone knows the old cliche that there has to be someone open when you double team. This is true, but Missouri does a great job of rotating and switching on defense to prevent the opposition from capitalizing. Without proper rotation on the play below, UNF would easily have gotten an open three or a drive. By rotating to the open man in the left corner, Missouri not only stops an easy bucket but then creates a turnover.
Missouri will be a tough out in the Big 12 again this season. The defense has been solid, but they have gotten off to a slow start shooting the ball. Rebounding has been greatly improved from last year, but we will have to see if they can continue to have success on the boards against the bigger and more physical Big 12 teams. November 30th is a date to mark on the calendar. The Tigers get their first big test from Georgetown in Kansas City.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
This season, much has changed for the Saints. Fran McCaffery has been replaced by Mitch Buonaguro and the three stars have graduated. Clarence Jackson and Ryan Rossiter are the go-to guys and team leaders. The point guard position is the one with the biggest question mark. Kyle Griffin started the first two games, but gave way to freshman Rakeem Brookins in game three.
So the Saints went into their second game of the season (@ Minnesota) with question marks at the point and searching for a new identity. They got off to a hot shooting start early (and by they I mean Clarence Jackson), but cooled off by the middle of the first half. Ultimately, the Saints lost 76-69. The problem for the Saints? Lots and lots of turnovers.
After the game, Coach Buonaguro said:
“It really came down to us turning the ball over,” Buonaguro continued. “I thought we outplayed Minnesota in a lot of areas, but the turnover battle was 24-15 (for Minnesota). You can’t win on 24 turnovers on the road. It’s impossible.”
Impossible is a strong word. I decided to further investigate Buonaguro's claim. Of course, winning with 24 turnovers on the road is not common by any stretch, but not impossible either. In fact, Coach Buonaguro should be very familiar with one game from last year when his claim was proven false. The 2009-2010 Siena Saints defeated Tennessee State on the road despite a ridiculous 29 turnovers. Buonaguro was an assistant coach last season.
The four factors tell the whole story. Despite 29 turnovers, this game wasn't even close. The final score was 85-69. Turnovers are certainly important (and most of the time underrated), but in this case Siena had enough talent to overcome them. Buonaguro's quote is not valid. An added stipulation might have made more sense: "You can’t win on 24 turnovers on the road against a Big Ten team." That could be something to look further into in the future.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Georgetown @ Old Dominion
Georgetown kicks off the season with a tough one. Last year, ODU played at a slow pace and grinded out games on defense. The mentality paid off as they defeated Notre Dame 51-50 in the first round of the NCAA Tourney. This is a rematch of the game last year at the Verizon Center. ODU won that one 61-57. Georgetown will not be looking past the Monarchs this season.
The Team with Upside
Seton Hall @ Temple
Wofford @ Minnesota
Thursday, November 4, 2010
This table really highlights the crazy season that was UNC 2010. Anyways, this is reason 3849 that Duke will be good. For the Duke haters, look on the bright side... At least they don't have the number one point guard recruit coming in. That wouldn't be good...
Monday, November 1, 2010
- (Potential Tournament Game) @ Tennessee - NIT Season Tip-Off
- Sat, Dec 11 @ Oklahoma State
- Sat, Feb 26 (Regular Season Finale) vs. Wichita State