This is Amelia Rayno's third season on the Gophers men's basketball beat. She learned college basketball in North Carolina (Go Tar Heels!), where fanhood is not an option. In 2010, she joined the Star Tribune after graduating from Boston's Emerson College, which sadly had no exciting D-I college hoops to latch onto. Amelia has also worked on the sports desk at the Boston Globe and interned at the Detroit News.

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A look at the Gophers' substitution patterns compared with other teams

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: February 25, 2013 - 12:26 PM

Rodney Williams update: Gophers coach Tubby Smith said on today's teleconference call that there is a 100 percent difference with Williams getting some rest to his tweaked left shoulder over the weekend. Still, the coach said he harbored some concerns about the senior's conditioning after having been held out of contact in practices and missing a lot of game time. Smith noted that Williams should be ready to go, but that Elliott Eliason could start otherwise. It should be a gametime decision.

I decided to spend some time looking into the substitution patterns of other Big Ten teams/ Minnesota opponents to see how the Gophers compared, since that seemed to be the next logical step after determining how starters' minutes compared.

My sample size is relatively small considering how time-consuming the data-gathering process is, but I think we can still take some interesting things from it.

I tracked substitutions (meaning every unique group of five and how much time they spent on the court together in particular games) for the following (first team designates the one I tracked, second team just an indicator of which game it was):

*Gophers at Ohio State (a blowout loss)
*Gophers against Nebraska
(a blowout win)
*Gophers against Wisconsin
(a close win – I used regulation minutes only to keep things uniform)
*Gophers vs. Illinois
(a close loss)
*Nebraska at Minnesota
(a blowout loss)
*Nebraska vs. Ohio State
(a competitive loss)
*Ohio State vs. Minnesota
(a blowout win)
*Ohio State at Michigan
(a tight loss – I used regulation only)
*Indiana vs. Minnesota
(wound up being a close win after large early deficit)
*Indiana at Illinois
(wound up being a close loss after a large early deficit)

I tried to select games that varied some under the assumption that the subbing would as well.

A few thoughts on what I found (with fuller bullet points below):

  • The first thing I noticed was that in general, teams use their starters together much less than I assumed, and the Gophers, by comparison, use their players together as much or more than the others I tracked.
  • As a rule, the Gophers don’t substitute more often than other teams – that is, the numbers of distinct groups are pretty similar with the other teams I tracked, as you’ll see below.
  • The substituting beyond that, for the Gophers, is incredibly more random and indicates that Gophers coach Tubby Smith likely has far fewer go-to lineups than the coaches of the other teams I tracked.


For example, I looked at the groups that got the most time after the starters. For the Gophers, this group changed every game – and never received more than four and a half minutes. The substitution pattern – or lack of it -- was also notable, as the players and groups that received significant minutes seemed to be chosen indiscriminately.

Compared with other teams, this stands out significantly. In Ohio State’s secondary lineups, it’s clear the Buckeyes favor their starters along with three reserves: Evan Ravenel, Shannon Scott and Ross LaQuinton. These are the only three used in significant minutes. Craft and Thomas – clearly the guys that make their team go – were used in each of those combos. Similarly, Indiana favored Will Sheehey, Remy Abell and Hanner Moquera-Perea as their main reserves. Yogi Ferrell was in all of those groups.

The Gophers’ secondary combos, by comparison, highlighted six different reserves (Maverick Ahanmisi, Mo Walker, Oto Osenieks, Julian Welch, Andre Ingram and Elliott Eliason) and there was no common player among them.

This should be the indication of an incredibly deep and talented bench, but I noted from Friday’s blog, that is far from the case.

I thought it would also be interesting to look at Nebraska, not just as an upcoming opponent, but as a team that has a weak bench similar to the Gophers. The Huskers’ Tim Miles plays Nebraska’s bench (529 minutes in 14 games) even fewer minutes than Smith has played Minnesota’s (733 minutes in 14 games), with the Huskers’ reserves scoring 12 percent of the team’s points with 18.9 percent of the minutes. In comparison, the Gophers’ bench scores 16.7 percent of the points with 25.5 percent of the minutes.

However, Miles’ substitutions differ dramatically from the Gophers’ as well. Brandon Ubel and Ray Gallegos rarely leave the floor if the game is competitive, and Miles uses far fewer combinations in general, with clear favorite groupings.

Lastly notable is that in the two games “close” Gophers games I tracked (Wisconsin and Illinois), the secondary options included Andre Hollins, Austin Hollins and Eliason in each – three players that can be facilitators for this team.


Let’s look first at the Gophers:

Minnesota at Ohio State:

  • Starters used together a total of 5:59 (two separate occations) – this is deceiving because of the early fouls by Rodney Williams and Joe Coleman, which kept them out of most of the first half.
  • 18 total combinations (including the starters group) were used.
  • Other than the starters’ group, two groups were used more than once – the combination [Dre Hollins, Austin Hollins, Andre Ingram, Oto Osenieks and Mo Walker] was used twice, for a total of 2:17. The combination [Dre Hollins, Julian Welch, Austin Hollins, Trevor Mbakwe and Walker] was also used twice for a total of 3:44 minutes.
  • The group that received the most time (4:26) other than the starting group was the combination [Maverick Ahanmisi, Welch, Osenieks, Mbakwe, Walker].
  • No other group exceeded 3:28 – this is surprising given that the starters played so little together, and shows that Smith doesn’t have a favorite backup combination if both Williams and Coleman get into foul trouble.
  • Dre Hollins was used in the most combinations (15) of any player for a total of 34 minutes.



Minnesota vs. Nebraska:

  • Starters used together a total of 19:16 (three separate occasions).
  • 14 total combinations were used.
  • Other than the starters’ group, one group was used more than once, the combination [Ahanmisi, Joe Coleman, Austin Hollins, Rodney Williams, Trevor Mbakwe] for a total of 1:21.
  • The group that received the most minutes (3:23) other than the starting group was the combination [Ahanmisi, Coleman, Welch, Ingram, Elliott Eliason].
  • No other group exceeded 2:38.
  • Ahanmisi and Williams were both used in 11 combinations. Williams had 33 minutes. Ahanmisi had 17.

 

Minnesota vs. Wisconsin (regulation only):

  • Starters used together a total of 21:27 (seven occasions).
  • 13 total combinations were used.
  • Other than the starters’ group, one group was used more than once, the combination [Dre Hollins, Coleman, Austin Hollins, Williams, Eliason] for a total of 3:39.
  • The above group received the most min other than the starting group. No other group exceeded 2:51.
  • Dre Hollins and Austin Hollins were both used in 11 combinations. Both had 38 minutes.

 

Minnesota vs. Illinois:

  • Starters used together a total of 19:32 (four occasions).
  • 13 total combinations were used.
  • Other than the starters’ group, no other group was used more than once.
  • The group that received the most minutes (4:11) after the starters was the combination [Dre Hollins, Welch, Austin Hollins, Mbakwe, Eliason].
  • The combo [Dre Hollins, Ahanmisi, Welch, Ingram, Walker] received 3:22 minutes. No other group exceeded 2:18.
  • Dre Hollins was used in 10 combinations for 36 minutes.

 

Now all of the other teams I tracked:

Ohio State vs. Minnesota:

  • Starters [Aaron Craft, Amir Williams, Sam Thompson, Deshaun Thomas, Lenzelle Smith] used together for just 5:24 (three occasions).
  • 14 total combinations were used.
  • Other than the starters’ group, three groups were used more than once.
  • The combination [Craft, Evan Ravenel, Ross LaQuinton, Thomas, Shannon Scott] was used the most (12:31).
  • Two other groups received more than four minutes: [Craft, Williams, Thompson, Thomas, Scott] and [Craft, Ravenel, Thompson, Thomas, Smith]. No other group exceeded 1:56.
  • Thomas was used in 10 combinations (including continuously until the final 5:18, when the Buckeyes led by 21.

Ohio State at Michigan (only looked at regulation):

  • Starters [same] used together for 12:26 (four occasions).
  • Seven total combinations were used.
  • Other than the starters’ group, three groups were used more than once.
  • The combination [Craft, Williams, LaQuinton, Thomas, Smith] was used the most (13:26).
  • Two other groups received more than 4.5 minutes [Craft, Ravenel, Thompson, Thomas, Scott] and [Craft, Williams, LaQuinton, Thomas, Scott]. No other group received more than 3:09.
  • Thomas was used in every combination, for a total of 40 minutes.

Indiana vs. Minnesota:

  • Starters [Yogi Ferrell, Victor Oladipo, Jordan Hulls, ChDyristian Watford, Cody Zeller] used together for a total of 15:01 (eight occasions).
  • 16 total combinations were used.
  • Other than the starters’ group, three groups were used more than once.
  • The combination [Ferrell, Hulls, Will Sheehey, Watford, Hanner Mosquera-Perea] received the most minutes (3:29) after the starters. The combo [Ferrell, Oladipo, Remy Abell, Watford, Zeller] received just a second less.
  • No other group received more than 2:27.
  • Ferrell was used in the most combinations (13) for 37 minutes.

Indiana at Illinois:

  • Starters [same] used together for a total of 11:28 (five occasions).
  • 17 total combinations were used.
  • Other than the starters’ group, two groups were used more than once.
  • The combination that received the most minutes other than the starters (7:11) was the combination [Ferrell, Oladipo, Sheehey, Watford, Zeller].
  • No other group received more than 3:16.
  • Oladipo was used in 13 combinations for 31 minutes, but both Ferrell (11 combos) and Zeller (12) eclipsed Oladipo in minutes (Ferrell with 32, Zeller with 33).

Nebraska at Minnesota:

  • Starters [Dylan Talley, Ray Gallegos, David Rivers, Shavon Shields, Brandon Ubel] were used together for a total of 7:28 (two occasions).
  • Nine total combinations were used.
  • Other than the starters’ group, three groups were used more than once.
  • The combination that received the most minutes (8:26) was the combination [Talley, Gallegos, Benny Parker, Shields, Ubel].
  • One other group received more than seven minutes [Talley, Gallegos, Parker, Andre Almeida, Shields]. No other group was used more than 4:01.
  • Gallegos was used in eight combinations, including continuously until 2:03 left in the game, when the Gophers were up by 18.

Nebraska vs. Ohio State:

  • Starters [same] were used together for a total of 15:41 (five occasions).
  • Seven total combinations were used.
  • Other than the starters’ group, four groups were used more than once.
  • The combination that received the most minutes after the starters (8:23) was the combination [Talley, Gallegos, Almeida, Shields, Ubel].
  • One other group received more than seven minutes [Talley, Gallegos, Rivers, Almeida, Ubel]. No other group received more than 3:10.
  • Ubel and Gallegos were both used in all the combinations, for totals of 40 minutes each.

 

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