Next Man Up

Written By: Brian Tonsoni 11/5/2018

As the beginning of the college basketball season is near, Indiana basketball fans learned a few things about the 2018-19 basketball team.  Depth ‒ the Hoosiers seem to have it this year. Why is that important?

Every coach has their philosophy on how many players are in the main rotation.  It is common to see 8, 9 or 10 man rotations in college basketball. The number of players in the rotation depends on several factors, one of which is depth.  The more game ready players there are in a program, the more likely a coach is to play more players in the regular rotation.

When a coach determines a starting lineup, they often will select their best players for the roles that coach deems important.  There are times when some of the best players may come off the bench in order to maximize matchups. However, the coach is going to select 7 to 8 of their players to receive the most playing time in order to have the best players on the court.

The issue of a roster of 13 scholarship players is what do you do with the 4-5 players not in the main rotation?  Indiana this year has 14 players that can play, with walk-on Zach McRoberts earning consideration. Coach Miller will need to decide if the rotation will increase to 9,10, 11 players or more.

Reasons to limit the rotation:

  • Best players having more opportunities

  • Cohesiveness of the better players as a unit

  • Depth ‒ Skill of bench players  is not game ready

Reasons to increase the rotation:

  • Players play better with rest

  • Strategic substitutions to maximize the game plan

  • Depth ‒  limited drop off in skill with substitutes

  • Team attitude

Depth is listed in both.  The more game ready players, the more a coach can do with a team from a strategic standpoint.  The pace of the game can increase, pressure defenses can be implemented, and a variety of offensive attacks can be utilized.  Using De’ron Davis off the bench with four shooters around him is an example. Another strategic item would be to press and trap, if desired.  

One thing that good quality depth also provides, regardless of strategy, is protection against foul trouble and injury. NEXT MAN UP!  Having a deep bench makes it more likely for a team to overcome the adversity a program faces in games and over a season.

Indiana scored 96 points in an exhibition and three likely rotation players sat out and two others saw limited minutes. Players that were assumed to be lower on the depth chart came in and were very productive.  Damezi Anderson was outstanding on the offensive end and Jake Forrester showed that he has the ability to play as well. Do these players get those minutes if not for five injuries for players who were above them on the depth chart?  Likely no.

So what does this mean for the 2018-19 Hoosiers?  Time will tell. Does Coach Miller play 8 or 9 or does he expand the rotation?  Who starts? Who finishes? Who gets the minutes? All interesting questions up for debate. For us fans, we can rest assured that regardless of the number of players in the rotation, foul trouble and minor injuries will not derail a game or a season.  This edition of the Indiana Hoosiers has 14 men ready to be NEXT MAN UP!