Over the past seven games, Andrew White III, Tyler Lydon and Tyus Battle have certainly gotten their money’s worth on the floor.
Those three have absolutely dominated the minutes battle for SU with each of them playing at least two games from start to finish during the seven game stretch. However, it is feasible to think that this trio needs to be on the floor at all times. White, Lydon and Battle are clearly the team’s three best players. But how sustainable is Syracuse’s minutes distribution for the final ten games?
Taking a look at the two teams who reached the NCAA Championship last year, Villanova and North Carolina, both teams featured at least eight guys who averaged at least 15 minutes per game. Of the 80 combined games played between UNC and Villanova last season, there was only one instance of a player recording 40 minutes in a single game. This year, Syracuse has already logged 14 such games.
The fact is, these players rarely get a breather. Over the past seven games, Battle has played 273 of the 280 minutes, and White isn’t too far behind with with 271. This is simply unsustainable. In the current basketball age, players are pushed to pretty much never take a moment away from basketball. Between AAU, high school and training, these players are playing year-round and come to college with a lot of miles on them.
Given the Orange’s playing style of shooting threes and relying on transition buckets, having depth and stamina is key. If Syracuse’s three best shooters from deep are logging all these minutes, fatigue will eventually set in. Last year, some of the Orange’s minutes leaders struggled from behind the arc down the stretch. In the final five games of the season, Trevor Cooney shot 22 percent and Malachi Richardson shot 28 percent. Both of them shot at least 35 percent for the season.
Syracuse is going to have to change up the minutes configuration at some point, but that cannot happen until someone gives Jim Boeheim a reason to do so.