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Looking back at Syracuse men’s basketball’s minutes played leaders over the last decade

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There’s a recent trend that is worth discussing

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 07 Syracuse at Miami Photo by Samuel Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The weekend transfer announcements from the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team has brought back up a familiar topic regarding Jim Boeheim’s rotation. I went back through the data available on Sports-Reference.com to see how many players have averaged over 30 minutes per game since the 2009-10 season.

I also went back to show the minutes played by the best Orange players of the 21st century so you’ll see Carmelo Anthony, Hakim Warrick and Gerry McNamara included. It seemed important to add those players for context especially when you see how far down Melo sits on the list.

This list is sorted by minutes played but I’d encourage you to scroll through the seasons on the Sports-Reference link to see which seasons featured seven or eight players who averaged more than 15 minutes per game and which ones like this current year were really six-man rotations.

Syracuse MBB players with 30+mpg since 2010

Player Season Games Played Minutes per Game Conference Minutes per Game
Player Season Games Played Minutes per Game Conference Minutes per Game
Tyus Battle 2017-18 37 39 40.1
Frank Howard 2017-18 37 38.4 38.6
Oshae Brissett 2017-18 37 38.1 39.5
Michael Gbinije 2015-16 37 37.9 38.1
CJ Fair 2013-14 34 37.8 39.4
Hakim Warrick 2004-05 34 37.5 N/A
Trevor Cooney 2014-15 31 37.3 38.5
Hakim Warrick 2003-04 31 37.3 N/A
Andrew White 2016-17 34 37.2 39.9
Elijah Hughes 2019-20 32 36.7 36.3
Trevor Cooney 2015-16 37 36.4 36.8
Carmelo Anthony 2002-03 35 36.4 N/A
Tyus Battle 2018-19 32 36.3 36.9
Gerry McNamara 2003-04 31 36.2 N/A
Tyler Lydon 2016-17 34 36.1 38.9
Tyler Ennis 2013-14 34 35.7 38
Buddy Boeheim 2019-20 32 35.6 36.4
Rick Jackson 2010-11 35 35.6 36.6
Gerry McNamara 2004-05 34 35.6 N/A
Gerry McNamara 2002-03 35 35.3 N/A
Michael Carter-Williams 2012-13 40 35.2 36.8
Gerry McNamara 2005-06 35 35.2 N/A
Michael Gbinije 2014-15 30 35 39
Wes Johnson 2009-10 35 35 N/A
CJ Fair 2012-13 40 34.9 38.2
Malachi Richardson 2015-16 37 34.4 36.1
Rakeem Christmas 2014-15 31 34.3 37.1
Brandon Triche 2012-13 40 33.7 35.4
Marek Dolezaj 2019-20 32 33.3 34.4
Joseph Girard 2019-20 32 33 33.8
Oshae Brissett 2018-19 34 33 33.6
Andy Rautins 2009-10 35 32.9 N/A
Elijah Hughes 2018-19 34 32.7 31.8
Hakim Warrick 2002-03 35 32.7 N/A
Kris Joseph 2010-11 34 32.4 33.6
Kris Joseph 2011-12 37 32.2 33.1
Trevor Cooney 2013-14 34 32.1 35.1
Scoop Jardine 2010-11 35 32.1 33.6
Jerami Grant 2013-14 32 31.4 34.1
Tyler Roberson 2015-16 37 30.8 31.4
Tyus Battle 2016-17 34 30.7 34.9
Tyler Lydon 2015-16 37 30.3 28.7
Data courtesy of Sports-Reference.com

Another theme I saw over the weekend revolved around the perceived “lack of patience” from Brycen Goodine and Jalen Carey. Fans offered up the examples of CJ Fair, Dion Waiters and Josh Pace, and so let’s take a closer look at those comparisons.

Freshman Minutes Comparison

Player Season Games Played Minutes per Game Conference Minutes per Game
Player Season Games Played Minutes per Game Conference Minutes per Game
Brycen Goodine 2019-20 23 8.7 6.8
Jalen Carey 2018-19 25 12.2 6.2
Michael Carter-Williams 2011-12 26 10.3 8
CJ Fair 2010-11 32 18.6 21.2
Dion Waiters 2010-11 34 16.3 16.1
Josh Pace 2002-03 32 14.7 N/A
Data courtesy of Sports-Reference.com

I’m not going to argue that Carey and Goodine were better as freshmen than this group. The data does show that even Waiters — who averaged 6.6 points per game his first year — was receiving double the minutes consistently in his campaign compared to what Carey/Goodine got in their first year in Orange. The best comparison is Michael Carter-Williams and he was on a team that won 34 games and had ten players average double-digit minutes for the season.

When we look at the trend, you can see that in recent years, Boeheim has become more reliant on his starters. There might be some correlation to this player usage and the consecutive double-digit loss seasons or maybe it’s just the result of the scholarship penalties, failed gambles like the Geno Thorpe experiment and the unexpected early departures of key players.

Whatever it is, the rotation has clearly become tighter, and as of this moment the anticipated depth of the 2020-21 Syracuse team has taken a big hit in terms of the backcourt. After a season where we saw the Orange struggle to close out halves this should be concerning to those inside the program as well as the fans.