Thursday, February 17, 2011

Kentucky's Most Feared Opponent This March: Minutes?


As March swiftly approaches, a major concern for the Kentucky Wildcats is depth, or lack thereof.

The Wildcats play a primary rotation of six players and only have eight players who have averaged more than five minutes per game this season.

With the rotation being what it is, the primary issue becomes fatigue for the six players who are playing heavy minutes.

Opinions are split on the topic. Some point out that a team without a bench has little to know chance of making a major run in March while others will argue that players can adapt to heavy minutes and still be successful.

I have pulled playing time statistics from eight of Kentucky's most successful teams in the modern era for the purpose of comparing the numbers to this season's team. The teams I chose are the last three national championship teams and every team that has captured and SEC regular season title since 1999-2000.

Here is a breakdown of total games played, total minutes for the season and average minutes per game:

2010-11 (In progress):

- Terrence Jones 25 772 30.9
- Brandon Knight 25 878 35.1
- Doron Lamb 25 728 29.1
- Darius Miller 25 734 29.4
- DeAndre Liggins 24 754 31.4
- Josh Harrellson 25 654 26.2
- Eloy Vargas 25 236 9.4
- Jon Hood 24 137 5.7
- Jarrod Polson 14 28 2.0
- Stacey Poole 12 42 3.5

Most: Brandon Knight, 35.1 MPG
Players Over 30 MPG: 3
Players Over 5 MPG: 8

1977-78 (National Champions):

- Jack Givens 32 1028 32.1
- Rick Robey 32 915 28.6
- Kyle Macy 32 1097 34.3
- James Lee 31 694 22.4
- Mike Phillips 31 602 19.4
- Truman Claytor 32 788 24.6
- Jay Shidler 29 427 14.7
- Chuck Aleksinas 28 216 7.7
- Lavon Williams 31 271 8.7
- Fred Cowan 19 86 4.5
- Dwane Casey 26 177 6.8
- Tim Stephens 19 106 5.6
- Scott Courts 13 30 2.3
- Chris Gettelfinger 9 12 1.3

Most: Kyle Macy, 34.3 MPG
Players Over 30 MPG: 2
Players Over 5 MPG: 11

1995-96 (National Champions):

- Tony Delk 36 947 26.3
- Antoine Walker 36 971 27.0
- Walter McCarty 36 889 24.7
- Derek Anderson 36 701 19.5
- Ron Mercer 36 677 18.8
- Mark Pope 36 716 19.9
- Anthony Epps 36 818 22.7
- Jeff Sheppard 34 434 12.8
- Wayne Turner 35 459 13.1
- Jared Prickett 5 51 10.2
- Allen Edwards 35 325 9.3
- Nazr Mohammed 16 88 5.5
- Oliver Simmons 21 100 4.8
- Cameron Mills 7 16 2.3
- Jason Lathrem 4 9 2.3
Most: Antoine Walker, 27.0 MPG
Players Over 30 MPG: 0
Players Over 5 MPG: 12

1997-98 (National Champions):

- Jeff Sheppard 38 1064 28.0
- Nazr Mohammed 39 819 21.0
- Scott Padgett 39 1089 27.9
- Wayne Turner 39 1098 28.2
- Allen Edwards 37 940 25.4
- Heshimu Evans 39 800 20.5
- Jamaal Magloire 38 567 14.9
- Cameron Mills 38 427 11.2
- Saul Smith 39 523 13.4
- Michael Bradley 32 221 6.9
- Myron Anthony 31 203 6.5
- Ryan Hogan 19 72 3.8
- Steve Masiello 18 33 1.8

Most: Wayner Turner, 28.2 MPG
Players Over 30 MPG: 0
Players Over 5 MPG: 11

1999-00 (SEC Champions):

- Tayshaun Prince 32 1087 34.0
- Jamaal Magloire 33 976 29.6
- Keith Bogans 33 917 27.8
- Desmond Allison 31 801 25.8
- Souleymane Camara 31 631 20.4
- Saul Smith 33 956 29.0
- Marvin Stone 33 456 13.8
- J. P. Blevins 33 543 16.5
- Nate Knight 9 79 8.8
- Todd Tackett 26 169 6.5
- Steve Masiello 15 58 3.9
- Marquis Estill 0 0 0.0

Most: Tayshaun Prince, 34.0 MPG
Players Over 30 MPG: 1
Players Over 5 MPG: 10

2000-01 (SEC Champions):

- Keith Bogans 34 1051 30.9
- Tayshaun Prince 34 1116 32.8
- Jason Parker 34 651 19.1
- Marquis Estill 32 441 13.8
- Saul Smith 34 995 29.3
- Gerald Fitch 34 673 19.8
- Marvin Stone 33 599 18.2
- Erik Daniels 33 427 12.9
- Cliff Hawkins 33 362 11.0
- J. P. Blevins 33 443 13.4
- Matt Heissenbuttel 10 32 3.2
- Cory Sears 10 35 3.5
- Souleymane Camara 0 0 NA
- Todd Tackett 0 0 NA

Most: Tayshaun Prince, 32.8 MPG
Players Over 30 MPG: 2
Players Over 5 MPG: 10

2002-03 (SEC Champions):

- Keith Bogans 36 1066 29.6
- Gerald Fitch 36 1041 28.9
- Marquis Estill 36 865 24.0
- Erik Daniels 32 821 25.7
- Chuck Hayes 36 997 27.7
- Souleymane Camara 36 658 18.3
- Cliff Hawkins 29 635 21.9
- Kelenna Azubuike 31 262 8.5
- Antwain Barbour 31 387 12.5
- Josh Carrier 28 184 6.6
- Brandon Stockton 24 110 4.6
- Preston LeMaster 8 17 2.1
- Bernard Cote 25 114 4.6
- Ravi Moss 12 28 2.3
- Matt Heissenbuttel 10 20 2.0

Most: Keith Bogans, 29.6 MPG
Players Over 30 MPG: 0
Players Over 5 MPG: 10

2004-05 (SEC Champions):

- Kelenna Azubuike 34 991 29.1
- Patrick Sparks 34 950 27.9
- Chuck Hayes 34 995 29.3
- Randolph Morris 34 672 19.8
- Rajon Rondo 34 854 25.1
- Ramel Bradley 34 418 12.3
- Ravi Moss 33 392 11.9
- Bobby Perry 34 388 11.4
- Joe Crawford 31 347 11.2
- Shagari Alleyne 29 268 9.2
- Sheray Thomas 26 189 7.3
- Lukasz Obrzut 28 179 6.4
- Josh Carrier 26 162 6.2
- Brandon Stockton 14 48 3.4
- Preston LeMaster 11 22 2.0

Most: Chuck Hayes, 29.3 MPG
Players Over 30 MPG: 0
Players Over 5 MPG: 13

2009-10 (SEC Champions):

- John Wall 37 1288 34.8
- DeMarcus Cousins 38 893 23.5
- Patrick Patterson 38 1255 33.0
- Eric Bledsoe 37 1122 30.3
- Darius Miller 38 804 21.2
- Darnell Dodson 35 505 14.4
- DeAndre Liggins 29 445 15.3
- Daniel Orton 38 502 13.2
- Ramon Harris 36 395 11.0
- Perry Stevenson 34 260 7.6
- Josh Harrellson 22 88 4.0
- Jon Hood 17 74 4.4
- Mark Krebs 16 44 2.8

Most: John Wall, 34.8
Players Over 30 MPG: 3
Players Over 5 MPG: 10

Comparing the teams:

- Most minutes (individual): Brandon Knight, 35.1 MPG
- Team with most players over 30 MPG: 3 (twice), 2009-10 and 2010-11
- Team with fewest players over 5 MPG: 8, 2010-11

My Thoughts: Kentucky has the talent to do special things this season, but conventional wisdom says that it'll be difficult to withstand the strain of postseason play with a rotation of only six players.

The optimal outcome for the Wildcats would be more positive minutes from Eloy Vargas and Jon Hood. Every minute that John Calipari can steal from Vargas and Hood is one less minute on the legs of Knight, Liggins and Jones.

Considering that we are already in the middle of February, however, it is hard to imagine a scenario that would see any major changes in the current rotation.

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