Syracuse Orange basketball coach Jim Boeheim is atypical for many, many reasons. Today, we have the data to add another one to that list.
According to KenPom, Boeheim is among the country's least cautious coaches, at least when it comes to keeping a player on the floor with two fouls in the first half.
The study looked at all coaches who've put in at least a season of work since 2009-10, measuring how many minutes players had two fouls in the first half, how many minutes those players saw the floor, and then the resulting percentage. As it turns out, Boeheim was fourth overall in terms of least cautious tactics in these situations. He kept players on the floor with two fouls 49.1 percent of the time (810 out of a possible 1,651 minutes).
Just three coaches in the country were ahead of Boeheim: Western Carolina's Ron Hunter (55.7 percent), UL-Monroe's Keith Richard (52.8 percent) and Georgia State's Ron Hunter (49.2 percent). Interestingly, of the top 10 coaches, Boeheim was also the only power conference coach. The only other power conference coach in the top 20 is Notre Dame's Mike Brey. New Vanderbilt coach Bryce Drew is also there, but was at Valparaiso until a couple months ago.
So what does this tell us about Jim and Syracuse? Compared to many of these other schools near the top, Boeheim can obviously do this out of desire, versus necessity. SU has the talent to swap in as needed, unlike the likes of perhaps Oakland, Arkansas-Pine Bluff or McNeese State. They also get into two-foul situations far less often than other schools. If you look at the numbers for other coaches with six or seven years, you're seeing plenty of minutes with two fouls higher than SU's at 1,651. You could also read further into the Orange's numbers and talk Boeheim's notoriously short benches and teams contingent on stars first.
Over on the ACC side of things, Syracuse obviously led the way in terms of least cautious tactics in foul trouble, followed by Notre Dame (40.5 percent), North Carolina's Roy Williams (33.6 percent), new Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner (33 percent) and Duke's Coach K (32.9 percent). Clemson's Brad Brownell and Virginia's Tony Bennett were the lowest ACC coaches on the list, at 10.3 percent and 6.9 percent, respectively.
While it's certainly not a foolproof plan, this does inform opposing strategies to an extent. If you're facing SU or Notre Dame, fouling a star player may not do a whole lot to the lineup, while it would certainly alter thinking at Clemson or Virginia.
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