Syracuse's 10-man rotation is unconventionally brilliant

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 11: Head coach Jim Boeheim of the Syracuse Orange talks with his players during a timeout against the Villanova Wildcats at the Wells Fargo Center on January 11, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)

Like it or not, the Syracuse Orange are 20-0 behind Jim Boeheim's rec-league style 10-man rotation. By getting so much of his roster involved every single night, Boeheim has kept his players humbled, motivated, and best of all, fresh enough to employ constant havoc in his frenzied zone defense. It's truly the perfect balance.

Whether Syracuse tightens up its rotation by March or not, we can't discount the fact that so many guys have had a hand in what this team has accomplished through 20 games. And since most of these players are only seeing around 15-20 minutes or so per night, we were interested in taking a look at how they'd stack up on a per 40-minute basis against each other. The results, well, were downright impressive:

Syracuse_medium

(Click to enlarge)

A few thoughts:

  • The balance here is brilliant. Virtually everybody in this rotation does two things extremely well, enough to either be the best, or one of the best on the team at each category. The only exception, of course, is Kris Joseph, who we're told is a fairly decent player. While this might seem like an obvious estimation for some of the top rotations around college hoops, remember that we're talking about TEN players here, not seven or eight. Syracuse isn't just going to the bench because feels like it, it's going there because the contributions coming back are extremely significant.
  • Obviously Dion Waiters gets a lot of pub when the whole 'best player on the team' debate comes up, and rightfully so. But it's Southerland who sports the best ORating of the bunch (130.5), and his above line of 20-8-1-2-2 clearly indicates a kid who is using every second of his 15.8 minutes of court time. Southerland also owns one of the lowest turnover rates in the country, an honor that should further strengthen the look of his per-minute numbers. He might not be the best in two months, but the 6'8" junior has been the single most effective Syracuse player in his time on the court this year.
  • Michael Carter-Williams' per 40-minute line is not too shabby: 9 pts, 6 rebs, 8 asts, 1 blk, 3 stls. Even though he only sees 12.6 minutes per contest and even less now in Big East play, this goes to show just how valuable he's been in short stretches, even as the obvious No. 10 guy in the rotation. Heck, MCW's per 30-minute averages of 5.97 assists and 2.25 steals are pretty slick too.

There's really no telling how much longer the Orange can keep this undefeated streak going. The Big East slate has been known to chop at the legs of early-season favorites before, so let's not get ahead of ourselves. But what Boeheim has done here to create a fun, united atmosphere among his players is a perfect example of why he's viewed with such high esteem among the coaching ranks.

All of his kids have bought into his system, and you're watching them flourish. They have each come to the realization that they don't need to be superstars, or Wooden Award winners for this thing to work out like it should. The goal for everyone is a national championship, bar none. And, quite honestly, that type of hunger is not always the case for your average Final Four contender filled with one-n-doners aching to get paid. So not only is SU deeper and more cohesive than you, but collectively, they might just be hungrier too. Nice.

Budding superstars and high usage players will steal most of the headlines across college hoops, but for the truest definition of "team basketball", and the deepest squad in the country, Syracuse is all over it.

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