There has been an awful lot of chatter about how thin the Seton Hall bench is and how little production has been gleaned from said bench; but is it true? ** It's important to note that I wrote this story prior to the Longwood game last night; you know, the same game where the Pirates had the most bench production all year? - BLAST! As such, the story and numbers below do not reflect data gathered during last night's tilt.
In an effort to find out where the Pirates stand in the Big East, in terms of team depth, I randomly chose four Big East teams (in addition to SHU) to analyze the average amount of time bench-players have contributed per game this season. I didn't analyze productivity in terms of traditional statistics like points, assists, rebounds, etc., I simply focused on the amount of minutes that the average non-starter provides his team off the bench. Clearly there are a myriad of variables that go into determining these numbers for each specific team (for example, Syracuse has SCARY depth - their second 5, if you will, could beat a lot of teams), but regardless, the numbers are what they are.
Below you'll find the average amount of time, per game, a bench player contributes to his team (walk-ons were not factored in the calculation):
Georgetown - 11.6 minutes
Providence - 12.7 minutes
Notre Dame - 14.55 minutes
Syracuse - 17.42 minutes
Seton Hall - 6.9 minutes
As you can see, Seton Hall receives, by far, the lowest contribution from their bench in terms of time (extrapolate further, and I'm certain you'd find a correlation between minimal contributions in points, assists, rebounds, etc. and limited minutes played). It's important (and scary) to note that Haralds Karlis is the lone outlier, as he is averaging 22.2 minutes per game which is far and away the most of any Seton Hall non-starter. Take Karlis out of the equation and the already low number of 6.9 minutes further plummets. I suppose another way of putting it is that Seton Hall starters are logging a tremendous amount of time (which we already knew), and the reason this can be significant is that players can wear down due to overuse. Optimally, a Coach wants his team to enter conference play peaking, not fatigued. Historically, the players most vulnerable to fatigue are freshman, so I'm certain Coach Willard will be watching Aaron Cosby's time closely, as he has logged significant time already. In fact, Willard divulged as much when he explained that he'd like to take five minutes away from Cosby (and give them to Karlis).
Thankfully, Seton Hall has recently regained the services of Brandon Mobely who was out for the first 9 games this season due to a shoulder injury, so the bench will certainly be bolstered with his addition. That said, I believe that the question of sustainability, as it applies to extended minutes for starters, is still a valid one, and one that will be answered in due time. For the most part, games in which bench players can get on-the-job experience has passed, as Big East Conference play rarely provides a window of reprieve.
For now, Seton Hall fans should bask in the 11-1 start their team has jumped out to (just 2 wins shy of last years total), and conference play has yet to begin. Additionally, Seton Hall will continue to receive votes for the top 25 in Monday's new rankings (will they crack the top 25?); surely this national attention and consideration can warm the heart of any Seton Hall fan on a cold New Jersey Christmas Eve.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all, GO PIRATES!
** I initially attempted to use South Florida as one of the samples but the calculation was too convoluted, as the Bulls don't have one solitary player who has started every game this season.
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