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How do you divide up the minutes?

Sidenote: I take offense to Matt’s comments about LOST in the morning post.  First of all, as someone who has watched from Season 1, Episode 1, the finale was fantastic.  Amazing writing, which was especially difficult considering how complex the show was.  Secondly, the show got great ratings in its first 4 seasons, and dipped in Season 5.  It’s a show that beat shows like “House” and “24” consistently.  And I would imagine that last’s nights episode got a fantastic rating.  So while Matt likes fringe shows like “House of Payne” and that new Ray Ramano show, some of us enjoy good television.  BOOM ROASTED!  Now, onto today’s rambling:  

I am still amazed at the amount of talent that Coach Cal is bringing to Lexington, not because the program had stalled before he got here, but because there are only so many minutes to go around.  Unlike in 1996, when guys like Ron Mercer came to Kentucky knowing they would have to come off the bench in their freshman year, top level players today want to start and play serious minutes from the get go. 

But, somehow Coach Cal does it.  Take, for instance, last year.  Here were the minutes played per game:

John Wall: 34.8
Patrick Patterson: 33.0
Eric Bledsoe: 30.3
Demarcus Cousins: 23.5
Darius Miller: 21.1
Deandre Liggins: 15.3
Darnell Dodson: 14.4
Daniel Orton: 13.2
Ramon Harris: 10.9
Perry Stevenson: 7.6
Jon Hood: 4.3
Josh Harrelson: 4.0
Mark Krebs: 2.7

Now, I could be wrong, but I never heard ONE SINGLE WORD last season from any player about playing time.  Yet, you had 2 seniors on the roster (Harris and Stevenson) who saw their playing time decrease dramatically from the previous year.  Obviously, there were legit reasons for this, but when you have played consistently for 3 years and then in your final year, you play 7 or 10 minutes a game, I found it impressive that those two guys accepted it and never made a negative sound.

Then you also had two 5-star big men in Cousins and Orton who each played under 24 minutes a game, split playing time all season, yet never seemed to be discouraged by the number of minutes their 5-star classmates (Wall and Bledsoe) received.  Now, I can readily admit that Cousins was in foul trouble in many games, limiting his minutes some, but he still was splitting time with Orton for the entire season, foul trouble or not.  Both guys are likely lottery picks in the upcoming NBA Draft, making it even more amazing these guys were fine with their minutes.

I will be very interested in how Coach Cal handles this upcoming year’s roster though.  Think about it, on last year’s roster, you had three players who were never really expected to get playing time (Hood, Harrelson, Krebs) and the 2 seniors clearly were going to see much limited minutes than in the past year.  But, on the 2010-11 roster, I can see an argument made for 11 of the 12 guys to EXPECT good minutes.  Obviously Knight, Kanter, Jones, Lamb, and Poole come to Lexington as heralded recruits expecting to play.  Dodson, Miller, and Liggins got good minutes last year so they would expect nothing less this season.  The frontcourt appears to be thinner, meaning Vargas and Harrelson might think they deserve good minutes.  And then Jon Hood will probably think his minutes should increase coming into his 2nd season. 

So, the question is, can Cal balance the minutes to keep all of his talent happy?  I think he can, because he is a genius with the mind games, so we likely have the players convinced they are playing just the right amount of minutes.  Also, I do LOVE Cal’s strategy that the players earn their time in practice, and if somebody thinks they should get more minutes, they have to speak up in front of their teammates. 

So, I looked at the roster, and what we think we know about the players talent, and here is how I would breakdown the 200 minutes a team gets in a game (starters in bold):

Enes Kanter: 32
Brandon Knight: 32
Terrence Jones: 30
Darius Miller: 23
Deandre Liggins: 21
Doron Lamb: 19
Stacey Poole: 10
Darnell Dodson: 10
Eloy Vargas: 10
Josh Harrelson: 8
Jon Hood: 5
Jared Polson: mopup

So, if the minutes above were how it played out, could Cal keep his roster happy?  I hope so.  And if last year was an indicator of anything, not only is Coach Cal a master on the recruiting trail, but he is a master in delivering his minutes.

Article written by Bryan the Intern