Sunday, January 03, 2016

Myth of Hopkins Rotation Depth

A common theme I have seen on Syracuse basketball forums this year is that Mike Hopkins is going to his bench more often than Jim Boeheim; in particular, that Boeheim never pulls Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney to play others. 

The evidence from those proponents of this idea point to the reduced minutes that Cooney and Gbinije have had under Hopkins in the weaker non-conference games.  It is true that both players see reduced playing time for those games.  Cooney played 36 minutes against Colgate, 34 against Cornell, 28 for Montana State, and 36 for Texas Southern.  Truly, Cooney's minutes were down in those games.

However, that is not a matter of Hopkins deciding to go deeper than Boeheim does; rather it is an indication of who the opponents are.  Boeheim, contrary to the opinions of some, also historically goes deeper into his benches against the easier non-conference opponents. Consider Conney's numbers from 2014-2015: Kennesaw St (33), Hampton (36), Loyola (27), Holy Cross (33), LA Tech (40), Colgate (29), Long Beach State (40) and Cornell (35).  Boeheim actually used less of Cooney than Hopkins did in those same types of games.  

Meanwhile, Gbinije had 39, 39, 33 and 40 in those same four non-conference games this year (Colgate, Cornell, Montana State and Texas Southern).  Silent G had no reduced playing time, except for the Montana State game.  

The images of how Jim Boeheim coaches are imprinted on fans memories, particularly those who dislike him or his style.  It is absolutely true that Boeheim goes to a shorter bench in the tighter games.  However, that is not a true statement for Boeheim regarding the easier non-conference games.  He routinely rotates and tests out players in those games.  Now he may not test out the players that you as a fan may want to see more of, but considering he sees those players each and every day in practice, I trust that Mr. Boeheim (and Mr. Hopkins) have a far better understanding of the players' abilities than you or I.

Data from Cooney and Gbinije is from

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