Loyola and the case of too many subs

I'll get to the news post later, since there has been quite a bit of it, but first this post needed to be taken out of "Drafts." It is the third post in my series about Depth Ratio. Check out the rest about DePaul and Northwestern.

Courtney Stanley driving to the basket.

Courtney Stanley needs to be ready to play more minutes in 2010-11.

When you look at the depth ratios across Chicago what stands out is how different every coach is in his approach to the game. For instance, Northwestern never subs. Bill Carmody, for whatever reason, seems to have an aversion to playing more than eight players in a game.

On the other hand, Loyola's Jim Whitesell has never been able to play eight players. His depth ratio has stayed comfortably under 2.50 for his entire coaching career. Since depth ratio is calculated (Minutes of Top 2 Players) / (Minutes of Players 8 and 9) you know that someone is consistently digging into the bench when it gets that low.

There was even once during Whitsell's tenure that the Ramblers' depth ratio dropped below 2.00, in 2009. It was a season when Whitesell couldn't figure out what to do with his underachieving Loyola squad.

This would be fine, but the starters are better!

Loyola's starting lineup of Courtney Stanley, Terrance Hill, Geoff McCammon, Ben Averkamp and Andy Polka had a plus-minus of plus 37 points this past season. As a team Loyola was minus 370 points. Of course, it's hard to compare Loyola's other lineups to the starters because of Whitesell's continual subbing. For instance, only one other lineup played more than 100 minutes together last season - Stanley, Hill, McCammon, Polka and Walt Gibler. That lineup was minus 27.

Now, Averkamp didn't make a 64-point difference in how a lineup plays. That's ridiculous. But there certainly is something to be said for the cohesiveness of a lineup and knowing who your best players are. It's obvious that Whitesell was able to identify the players that would help his team win. Why didn't he ride those players longer during the season?

It should be noted that two lineups per 40 minutes were very effective and included backups, but they come with the caveat of extremely small sample sizes. The Hill, McCammon, Polka, Gibler, Aric Van Weelden lineup and the Hill, Van Weelden, Gibler, Polka, Marcus Thomas lineups were both very effective in limited minutes.

Still, in total there are exactly eight names in bold on this page. Van Weelden didn't play for a large part of the season. So why was Whitesell dipping so far into his bench? No lineup combination that had a positive return included anyone but these eight players. When Whitesell went to Ryan Sterling, John Benkoske or even Jordan Hicks last season he had to know he was hurting the continuity of the team and the lineup.

It's obvious from watching two seasons with him on the bench here in Chicago that Whitesell believes in having three competent big men. He had that last season in Averkamp, Polka and Gibler. That rotation was the best Loyola had all season. It worked for everyone involved. Gibler was the Sixth Man of the Year in the Horizon League, Averkamp put up the team's only positive plus-minus amongst significant contributors and Polka ate up rebounds and minutes while he was on the court.

Unfortunately it doesn't work like that at every position. Loyola didn't have the depth to consistently sub out its three guards. Stanley and McCammon should've been playing significantly more minutes.

Next season Stanley needs to be in the type of shape that Whitesell shouldn't be afraid of playing him 35 plus minutes per game. Loyola needs him to be ready to do it. And if Stanley can handle it physically then Whitesell needs to lay off the subbing trigger finger a bit, the Ramblers will be better for it.

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