Friday, November 16, 2007

The Young Guns

Syracuse began the Flynn-Greene Era with 2 close wins at home in the Carrier Dome. Two very close wins at home. With under 40% of his playing time returning this season (3 starters included), Coach Boeheim's decision to begin this season with a tournament seemed a little daring. The Preseason NIT, unlike a number of early season tournaments, whose promoters appear to consult rather closely with the host of each regional site on opponent selection, timing of the games and other issues, handed Syracuse two rather competitive opponents. Understand, Siena of the MAAC and St. Joseph's(PA) of the A10 are not going to break into any regular season Top 25 polls and will most likely finish with RPIs in the #70 - #110 range, but both will most likely see a post season beyond their respective conference tournaments. The Siena Saints are favored to win the MAAC while St. Joseph's (PA) is projected to finish with enough wins to draw consideration for at least the three lettered tournament. Given the relative youth of the Syracuse team a close call (or two close calls...) would not seem out of place, especially considering the opponents. But winning two games by a total of 11 points, the last on literally a game ending jumper, seemed too close for comfort. So who did Coach Boeheim start and who did he include in the rotation for these games?

The Starters
Eric Devendorf27796.31123311.16
Jonny Flynn27290.01119331.58
Donte Greene27695.01124321.19
Paul Harris27391.31123321.10
Arinze Onuaku26378.81116291.34
The Bench
Rick Jackson21923.857101.43
Scoop Jardine278.80200.00
Kristof Ongenaet2911.31320.67
Josh Wright145.00000.00

That he started 2 freshmen, Flynn and Greene, is hardly a surprise. They were heavily promoted going in, and have not disappointed. But combined with red shirt sophomore Arinze Onuaku, Paul Harris and Eric Devendorf, the Orange starting five may easily be the least experienced (from a collegiate perspective) of any starting five in the conference. Only Devendorf has more than one year as a starter. He is the only one who has played more than one season of college ball too. Between them Onuaku and Harris have 2 starts over the past 2 seasons. Onuaku took a redshirt last season after logging 17.2% of the available minutes as a freshman. While Onuaku rehabbed a knee last season, Paul Harris entered the program and played 54.1% of the available minutes. Devendorf is the grownup in this group. The same trend holds true for the Orange substitutions. Boeheim has used 9 players over the two game stint, 8 having appeared in both games. There is a huge playing time gap between the 5th (Onuaku) and the 6th man (Rick Jackson).

Almost as surprising as the shallow rotation is the allocation of minutes within the rotation. The starting five have logged at least 78.8% of the minutes distributed to the squad, with 4 of the 5 logging in excess of 90% of the available minutes. The sixth man in (by most accounts that would be Rick Jackson), gets less than ¼ of the available time (Min%) while he gets slightly less than 1/3 of the minutes allocated to the 5th starter (Onuaku). Easier competition is in store after the NIT championship round at MSG. The starters may well get some downtime before starting the Big East portion of their schedule. Continuing to play 90% of the available minutes going forward will take a huge toll on the entire freshmen contingent.

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