Depth Ratio and the indecisiveness of DePaul

This is the second part of a series on depth ratio and the Chicago schools. More about the statistic can be found at The Only Colors, also check out the first post in the series about Northwestern.

DePaul under Jerry Wainwright is unique in this series because it is the only school in which more depth led to consistently better results - at least when measured by RPI. Almost always for the Blue Demons a bigger bench meant a better team, though that's purely in a relative sense.

The Blue Demons' best season under Wainwright came in 2007 when DePaul recorded a depth ratio of 2.77. That's a pretty low number, in fact that's a huge shift from a team like Northwestern. It means that the Blue Demons weren't afraid to go often go deep into their bench.

Of course, last season DePaul's depth ratio was the highest ever under Wainwright at 2.80 and it was the continuation of the on-going disaster that got him fired. Wainwright's insistence on playing walk-ons like Nate Rogers and Ryan Siggins in Big East play demonstrated the desperation of his search for answers.

Still, the numbers thought that depth could help. While a .14 correlation isn't the strongest ever, it certainly is positive and more depth - to a point - tends to be helpful. Of course the key is recognizing when that point is.

It certainly is possible that DePaul has found a coach in Oliver Purnell that knows that threshold. Purnell's system is heavily reliant on depth. In order to play the pressing, up-tempo style of basketball that made up the identity of his Clemson teams Purnell had to go deep into the Tigers' bench. His average depth ratio of 2.50 is even lower than Wainwright's 2.66.

It should be noted though that this can go too far to the extreme, like Wainwright's tenure pointed out. For instance, in his first three seasons at Clemson Purnell had depth ratios of 2.91, 1.97 and 2.05 and RPIs of 90, 87 and 77 respectively. The depth didn't do anything.

As his teams improved, Purnell got a little smarter about the players he put on the court. He tightened up the bench a bit. His final three seasons the depth ratios were 2.55, 2.22 and 2.61 and a much more respectable 19, 28 and 34 in RPI. It seems like Purnell had finally acquired the talent - both in terms of quality and quantity - to properly run his system.

If Purnell plays a lot of players next season it might signify that like Wainwright he's not sure what to do with this current collection of players, but as the seasons go on look for the ratio to stabilize and for his system to begin to win out. That's a sure sign that Purnell's process is at work.

Next in the series is Loyola, if you thought Wainwright subbed a lot wait until you see Jim Whitesell's numbers quantified.

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