Depth and future rotations

I really love the depth that Beilein is building. I could foresee a scenario, once these two classes mature, where we have a longer rotation than he typically does. I hope we can keep all these kids engaged with PT.

Also, the common denominator in our recent recruiting success seems to be Saddi Washington. Keep up the good work buddy! Gotta love a closer!


Get that man a cup of coffee.


I feel like we say this about the rotation every year and it never happens, lol

Using too big a rotation is not necessarily a good thing. It can sometime be a sign of having a lot of good players, but no great players of the kind you need to compete for championships. Maybe that doesn’t hold if you’re a Kentucky, and have too many 5 star recruits to fit into one starting lineup, but most teams (including us) are not in that situation. The ideal rotation of guys who play every game is somewhere in the 7-9 range, and you really want to have 2-3 guys who are good enough to merit being out there 32-35 minutes a game.

Show me a team that plays 10 guys for 20 minutes each, and they will probably be good, and fairly competitive, but not Sweet 16 or Elite 8 level.


Kentucky a few years ago had a Blue 5 and a White 5 and they substituted them as whole units for most of the year. I recall they did quite well that year. In high school, I played against a team that did the same thing because, although the team was only average, they had ten guys that were pretty equal. (By the way, they ran our asses off because they were well rested).
The reason that most teams use an 8 or less rotation is because there is usually a significant drop off in talent/experience when you get down to the 9th man and beyond. If your 11th and 12 guys were just as good as your 4th and 5th guys, there would be little reason to not play them on a regular basis.

It also depends on the positions/skills of the guys in front of your 9th and 10th guy. If we said, say, Eli Brooks is our 9th guy this year, but Simmons and Simpson are ahead of him at the 1, and Rahk/Poole at the 2 (not saying this is necessarily the case, just talking hypotheticals), what would be the point in playing 9?

A 3 or 4, given that we have only three in our likely rotation (Matthews, Robinson, Livers), sure. But maybe then the next guy isn’t really good enough.

If they were, maybe, but the reality for virtually every team in the country is that if your 11th and 12th guys are just as good as your 4th and 5th, that probably means that your 4th and 5th guys are not very good at all. There is also something to be said for having fewer different lineups out there, and letting your best 7-8 players get into sync with each other as much as possible.

You don’t think Beilein is going to switch to the full grinnell system?

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The flip side to emphasizing getting your players “in sync” is giving the opponent “different looks”.

My biggest criticism of JB is he overplays a few players every year.


How many instances are there of really strong teams that play 10-11 guys every single game as a matter of routine, compared to those who play 7-8 as a regular rotation, and other guys less often? Just as an example, check the Elite 8 teams from this year, and see which of the two is more common.

I don’t see how one being more common than the other makes the other not work.


I agree with Wolverheel’s objection. Whether or not it is a common practice does not mean it is a good practice. I suspect we would have a hard time finding a lot teams that play 7-10 as sparingly as JB, however.

Walton and Irvin were both in the top five of minutes in the big ten.

If you add together the minutes JB gave to last year Michigan’s 7th, 8th, 9th, and tenth man and compare those minutes to the sum of the 7th man -10th man minutes for the final four teams, then it looks like JB really does play his bench significantly less than other coaches (at least compared with last year’s final 4 teams).

NC: 64.6
SC: 47.9
OU: 45.1
GU: 40.0
UM: 27.4

Compared to the players of those other teams JB played his 7th man the least, 8th man the least, 9th man the least, 10th man the least.

I am not sure how we compare with everyone else…My intuition seems to be confirmed, at least in a small way, by that small sample size…


Because it tells you why coaches and teams go that route and end up being successful? Maybe? Not saying that it’s a binary type of question, but teams do this for a reason.

Look at Beilein’s bench last year. After you get by Robinson and Donnal, who could you get quality minutes from? Most teams that play a short rotation, do so because of the talent drop off.


I think there is some truth in what you are saying. We are moving into unchartered territory, I think, in terms of team depth under JB. I will be curious to see if JB plays his top players less and 7-10 more over the course of the next few years…


This year we have less star players than ever before and better 7-10 players than ever before. I’ll be shocked if the minutes distribution is the same again.


And the team that won the title gave by far the most minutes to their 7-10 players, as @gtfomycourt showed. We can gather about the same from that as we can from what you’re referring to, which is pretty much nothing. Most teams don’t have 10 guys who are worth putting out there over another. If we did then I would hope we would play them.

Edit: I just saw this:

100% correct.

The objection assumes that the quality of our 7-10 guys is comparable to that of the other teams you cite, and that Beilein is playing his bench less just because he doesn’t want to, and not because it’s too big a step down in talent and athleticism. I don’t think that’s the case. Last year, Donnal and Simpson were our 7 and 8 guys, and after that, Watson and Teske. Those are not guys that he could count on to not be a liability against top-notch competition, frankly, and I don’t think he was wrong to give them only as many minutes as absolutely necessary. Yes, that means that some guys may get a little overworked, but you go with what gives you the best chance to win.

Who do you think should have gotten more minutes last year among our 7-10 guys?

I may have been wrong but you seemed to be making a general claim that successful teams play their top 5 or 6 at a rate similar to JB.

I am not sure that is true. It is something that can be discovered but I doubt either of us have time to analyze the situation fully. I tried to do a bit of analyzing but my sample size is admittedly tiny…

I am relying on my impression over the years. It always seems like we have a few guys that are among the top in the big ten for playing time. I agree that some of this might be due to a disparity in talent level at UM. I am not entirely sure though because, taking last year for example, there were quite a few games where I thought it would be a good thing to give Walton a rest and z more playing time. There were situations where I thought we could afford to give Irvin and/or DJ a rest by giving Robinson more playing time. It is very situational…This is just my impressions from last year and based on my belief that over the course of a season those extra minutes have a cummulative effect in the bodies of players and they start to wear down if they are not given enough rest. (I think Burke mentioned this “worn down feeling” after his Freshman year.)

I think the reason we are having this discussion in a thread for 2018 recruits is that the 2018 class is most likely going to make us deep and without huge variance in talent. No super star types but extremely solidly talented players—like—potentially the whole roster is going to be capable of contributing in a meaningful way, which is awesome but it also creates a new set of challenges for JB. I am excited to see how JB manages playing time over the next few years…

Beilein has spoken pretty consistently about preferring a 7 or 8 man rotation. Especially in the NCAA tournament when there are longer TV timeouts.

It is rare to have a 1 through 10 who are ‘equal’ and generally if you can pick out the best 7 or 8 you can maximize your efficiency by having that group play together by having better chemistry, etc.

College basketball is very different than the NBA in that sense because you have the longer shot clock, shorter game, etc. An average Michigan game has 63 possessions (a NBA game has closer to 100)… how many can you afford to not have your best players on the floor for?

They also do heartrate monitoring and all the rest and I’m sure they keep a close eye on workload to see if guys are playing too much, etc.