I’d like to start this column with the usual disclaimer: it’s really impossible to know much about this team after one regular season game against Colgate, and two even more meaningless exhibition games. Still, at first glance this is the deepest team Coach Jim Boeheim has had in 15 years, if not ever.
During the opener Boeheim used nine members of his squad for 15 plus minutes. Those aren’t benchwarmer, garbage time minutes. To play someone for 15 minutes at any juncture of the season, Boeheim, or any coach really, has to believe you can contribute meaningfully to the team.
We knew coming into the season that this team was deep at multiple positions, I just didn’t realize how deep until I saw it in action. The Orange actually have two starting caliber point guards in John Gillon and Frank Howard; they have two starting centers that excel on different ends of the floor in Dajuan Coleman and Paschal Chukwu; and they have a whole starting five of wings that would start on an overwhelming number of teams in the country (and make for their own interesting line-up.)
Now like I already mentioned, it’s early, and it’s certainly conceivable that 2 to 3 of those players will lose minutes over the course of the season. Freshman Taurean Thompson and Chukwu would be two guys specifically that might log only 10 minutes or so on a lot of tough ACC evenings.
But even that much playtime for the end of his bench would be deeper than Boeheim usually likes to go.
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A quick look back on the fifteen previous seasons revealed to me the following:
- Boeheim usually plays 6 guys, 7 at most over 15 minutes a game and then has a 7th or rarely 8th guy who logs around 10 minutes. Everyone else barely sees the court outside of garbage time.
- The last time Boeheim played anything close to 8 guys at 15 minutes a piece was the championship season of 2002-2003, when 7 guys hit that mark, and Josh Pace just missed at 14.7 mpg.
- In the five previous meetings against Colgate, traditionally blowouts wherein guys deeper on the bench play more, no more than 8 guys logged at least 15 minutes.
We can revisit this topic in a few weeks, after some meaningful games against more competitive opponents, but if the trend continues I’ll dive deeper into the archives to see if in fact this is the deepest team ever for Boeheim or just in recent memory.
Either way it’s an early season storyline that has my full attention. Will Boeheim be forced to look to his bench more often because of the talent he assembled, or will old habits die hard as the season progresses?
Who will lose minutes to who?
Will it cause unrest in the locker room?
Will anyone be redshirted to make room for someone else?
It’s a problem that the coach isn’t used to dealing with. A good dilemma yes, but one nevertheless. How he handles it, and how the team responds, will add an interesting layer to his celebrated legacy.
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