Jim Boeheim was adamant that depth played no role in Syracuse’s heartbreaking defeat to Pittsburgh on Wednesday in the ACC Tournament. However, whether Boeheim says it or not, depth is often what separates two teams in a close game, particularly when it is part of a “survive and advance” tournament.
Depth played a major role in the first quarterfinal game on Thursday and the losing coach was the first one to acknowledge it.
“We could have used some more bodies to help us,” Jamie Dixon said after Pitt fell to UNC.
The Tar Heels and Panthers were locked into a tight game in the second half, and eventually, the Heels just wore them down.
“They had a lot of people they were throwing at us,” Pitt forward Michael Young said. “They were just rotating guys.”
Roy Williams used 11 players, not including four walk-ons who entered the game in the final minute.
It was more of the same in the second game. Duke got out to a 16 point lead over Notre Dame in the second half. Then, three Duke players, Chase Jeter, Marshall Plumlee and Brandon Ingram all picked up their fourth fouls and the Duke bench was stretched beyond its limit.
The Irish stormed back and Duke had no answer because, almost literally, Coach K had no one to put on the floor. Notre Dame erased the deficit and sent the game to overtime where they defeated the Blue Devils 84-79. Three players fouled out for Duke, including Grayson Allen, who Coach K acknowledged has been forced to play an even bigger role because of their lack of depth.
“Grayson tried to carry us. It wasn’t enough,” Mike Kryzewski said after the game. “We go the way he goes. I’m fine with [that].”
Thursday’s afternoon session illustrated that depth is not the only factor in winning games, but it certainly can make a difference and it is time Jim Boeheim, at the very least, acknowledges that.