Highlighting the passing ability of the Missouri Tigers
59% of the baskets converted by the Tigers have been assisted so far this season, good for 71st in the country. This was on full display Monday night against Northern Illinois and we saw how they have been able to reach this rate so far this season.
One of the first things you notice about the Tigers is how they pass up shots for themselves and look for the open teammate that may have an easier shot. In this first clip, watch as Ricardo Ratliffe passes up a close shot to get Laurence Bowers a dunk.
NIU is fronting Ratliffe in the post to try to cut off the entry pass. Missouri has a size advantage and the defense is trying to stop the ball from being entered into the post.
The ball is dumped over the top of the defense to Ratliffe and the help defender needs to rotate over to cut him off. Ratliffe could jump over the help defense and get the layup but he sees the open Bowers and passes up a contested layup for an open dunk. This is nice court awareness by Ratliffe.
Ratliffe likely could have scored from the above position. However, he was covered by the help defense, leaving Bowers open. This shows the unselfishness of the Tigers, as they always are looking for the open man, for the good of the team.
The second example starts with a lucky pass from a Tiger falling out of bounds to midcourt which ignites the fastbreak. With 4 defenders scrambling to the paint, the three point line is unguarded.
Matt Pressey sees Marcus Denmon across the court and whips a perfect pass on a line to him which allows him to catch, set his feet and fire. The pass is key here, as Denmon does not have to waste any movement controlling the ball and gets the shot off before the defense can recover.
Off ball movement
Another point that makes the Tigers a great passing team is the movement of the cutters off the ball. When Bowers catches the ball in the high post, he starts looking for a cutting teammate. Michael Dixon sees his man is ball watching and cuts to the basket for the open layup.
Instead of putting his head down and trying to push his way to the basket as soon as he gets the ball, Bowers is looking for an open teammate. With #4 watching the ball and not his man, Dixon cuts to the basket and gets an open layup, as Bowers sees the cutting player, since he is looking to pass.
We see a cutting player off the high post in this clip as well, although this also shows the court awareness the Tiger players possess. Justin Safford catches the ball at the elbow and gives a quick shot fake to draw the defense to him. This allows Matt Pressey to cut toward the basket.
Safford has great awareness to see the open space and Pressey takes advantage with his cut. Safford hits him in stride and Pressey draws the foul.
There were already several things I loved about Missouri this season. Add their passing ability (and off ball cuts) to the list. They make offense easier, which is part of the reason they are currently 19th in the nation in offensive efficiency.