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Is Boeheim Squeezing The Orange Dry?

Heavy minutes could be limiting Syracuse’s success

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NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Midwest Regional-Syracuse vs Duke
 Mar 23, 2018; Omaha, NE, USA; Syracuse Orange guard Tyus Battle (25) reacts during the first half against the Duke Blue Devils in the semifinals of the Midwest regional of the 2018 NCAA Tournament at CenturyLink Center. 
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

For the second straight season a Syracuse player paced the league in floor time. In this case it was Tyus Battle, the ACC’s top returning scorer and a sure first team All-ACC selection. Last year he made second team.

Syracuse has been in the conference for five years and at least one of its players ranked among the top two in minutes played in each of those seasons. The 2018 Orange were the most extreme example of that habit, with three of the league leaders in average time spent on the court.

The Orange contended immediately for a spot in the upper echelon upon entering the league, finishing second in 2014. Mostly, though, despite their Hall of Fame coach and their tradition, they’ve been mediocre at best. The Cuse finished 8th in the league in 2015, tied for 9th in 2016, tied for 7th with two other teams in 2017, and tied Notre Dame for 10th last season at 8-10.

In other words, not particularly noteworthy other than a surprise Final Four trip in 2016 and a questionable spot ahead of the injury-riddled Fighting Irish in the ’18 NCAA tournament.

It’s reasonable to wonder if fatigue, pushing key performers to their physical limits game after game, might be a factor in limiting Syracuse’s success.

Battle’s average minutes played in 2018 were the most by any league performer since Virginia guard Curtis Staples accumulated 39.1 minutes per outing in 1998.

Syracuse Players Among ACC Leaders in Minutes Played Per Game
(Since School Joined League For 2014 Season)
Year Rank Player Mins. Gs Total Mins.
2018 1 Tyus Battle 39.0 37 1443
2 Frank Howard 38.5 37 1423
4 Oshae Brissett 38.1 37 1411
2017 1 Andrew White III 37.2 34 1266
2 Tyler Lydon 36.1 34 1227
2016 2 Michael Gbinije 37.9 37 1403
4 Trevor Cooney 36.4 37 1347
2015 2 Trevor Cooney 37.3 31 1156
2014 2 C.J. Fair 37.8 34 1284
5 Tyler Ennis 35.7 34 1215

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