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Wake Forest Basketball: Minutes and Substitution Analysis

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Wake Forest moved to 2-0 yesterday with a win at Bucknell. BSD takes a look at the minute breakdowns and how Coach Manning and staff have balanced minutes so far.

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Wake Forest is off to a 2-0 start with wins over UMBC and @Bucknell. This is without starting point guard Codi Miller-McIntyre, and arguably its best overall wing player in Cornelius Hudson. Once back in action those guys will both start and provide much needed minutes for a short-staffed team.

There have been some unique lineups and substitution patterns in the two wins, including a walk-on averaging 26.5 minutes per game in Trent VanHorn.

Below are three tables. The first table is strictly a minutes per game table. The second table is the breakdown of player minutes at each position. The third table is the minutes per game translated into percentages. Obviously the final two tables are somewhat discretionary.

I have watched both games, and from my vantage point the shooting guard and small forward (2 and 3) positions are fairly interchangeable. I also assumed that John Collins and Doral Moore have played all their minutes at the center position, but there have been remote times where that is not true. These numbers serve as approximate percentages based on how often they are playing.

Minutes Per Game


UMBC Bucknell MPG
Mitchell Wilbekin 35 37 36.0
Devin Thomas 30 31 30.5
Bryant Crawford 32 28 30.0
Trent VanHorn 25 28 26.5
Konstantinos Mitoglou 31 20 25.5
Greg McClinton 20 25 22.5
John Collins 11 12 11.5
Grant O'Brien 10 9 9.5
Doral Moore 5 10 7.5
Stephen Pendergrast 1 1 1.0

Minutes Per Game at Each Position

Position Starter Secondary Tertiary Fill-in Play Total Minutes (#)
Point Guard Crawford 24 Wilbekin 16 40
Shooting Guard Wilbekin 20 VanHorn 12 Crawford 6 O'Brien 2 40
Small Forward McClinton 14.5 VanHorn 14 Mitoglou 6.5 O'Brien 5 40
Power Forward Mitoglou 19 Thomas 10.5 McClinton 8 O'Brien 2.5 40
Center Thomas 21 Collins 11.5 Moore 7.5 40

Percentage of Minutes Played at Each Position

Position Starter Secondary Tertiary Fill-in Total Minutes (%)
Point Guard Crawford 60% Wilbekin 40% 100%
Shooting Guard Wilbekin 50% VanHorn 30% Crawford 15% O'Brien 5% 100%
Small Forward McClinton 36% VanHorn 35% Mitoglou 16% O'Brien 13% 100%
Power Forward Mitoglou 48% Thomas 26% McClinton 20% O'Brien 6% 100%
Center Thomas 53% Collins 29% Moore 18% 100%

Overall I think Danny Manning has done quite well with his substitution patterns, so let's take a look at some things that have stuck out to me through the first two games.

Let's start with the obvious: Trent VanHorn is playing A LOT of minutes for a walk-on. A lot of these minutes are out of necessity due to the injury to CMM and the suspension of Cornelius Hudson.

VanHorn was the hardest player to peg positionally (other than O'Brien), because he subbed for McClinton so frequently yesterday,. Iif I had to guess he has probably played slightly higher than 35% of his minutes so far this year at the 3. He subbed in for the first time yesterday at the 14 minute mark and didn't come out for the remainder of the half.

Due to Crawford struggling in the first half, VanHorn played most of his minutes early at the shooting guard position, with Mitchell Wilbekin shifting over and running point.

VanHorn has given a lot of good minutes and is pretty much an ideal player for a walk-on who has to get extended minutes.

He protects the ball well (11% turnover rate), makes free throws when he is fouled (8/9 on the year), has only taken 7 shots from the field on the season (2/7), and has a possessions rate of 9.2% (meaning he defers to nearly everybody on the court on offense; 1/11 possessions end with a VanHorn turnover, made shot, or missed shot).

Once Wake gets to full health I think there is still a place for VanHorn situationally, especially to keep legs fresh as the team gets into the season.

A lot of the minutes that VanHorn has been playing at the three spot is due to situational substitutions for McClinton and Mitoglou.

McClinton was in foul trouble against UMBC, and Mitoglou was well below average on defense in the first half yesterday. His defensive rotations were late (especially on the play that Devin gambled on the wing), and if he isn't making threes and stretching the defense there are positives to having McClinton and other big men on the court instead.

Looking at the other walk-on who has seen playing time, I think that the 9 minutes per game that Grant O'Brien is getting could perhaps be divvied up a bit, especially to John Collins and Doral Moore. O'Brien is spelling at the 3 and 4, and those are perhaps the two deepest positions that we have.

This is not meant to be a slight at all to O'Brien, who has filled in serviceably and admirably.

He is a good defender and I am guessing that's why he is in there (another body to ease minutes overall), but given the skill set that I have seen from the freshmen, and especially John Collins, at this point I think those minutes can go to him for developmental purposes.

Maybe Coach Manning is easing them both in, or conditioning is not where it needs to be to get those minutes, but based on pure talent and what he brings to the table, Collins needs more minutes.

This will allow Devin to slide into the PF spot and get more minutes there, which will stretch the defense and utilize his newfound ability to hit the midrange jump shot and attack from the triple threat position more frequently.

Situationally, I thought the play at the end of the half yesterday was not a good coaching move from Coach Manning. There was a timeout called by Bucknell with approximately six seconds left and the entire court to go. Coach left VanHorn in on Chris Hass, one of the best shooters in the nation, and despite VanHorn's best effort, Hass got space and was able to shoot over him for a three to end the half.

I would have liked to see McClinton in on that play for length purposes to at least give Hass a more obstructed view of the basket. This was also another example of bad transitional defense and being a split second late to find and recognize your man. That's unacceptable out of a timeout, especially in man-to-man defense with 6 seconds left.

Another interesting lineup yesterday was when Coach Manning went to an extremely small lineup of: Crawford, Wilbekin, VanHorn, O'Brien, and Thomas for two minutes after the Deacs' took the lead. Those two minutes resulted in a ton of free throws for both teams, including a drive by TVH and Devin Thomas that led to points. It also gave our bigs on the bench time to rest and what was only two minutes of game was probably ten minutes total with the media timeout.

That will be worth watching to see if he runs that again.

It was fun to see Wilbekin play as much point guard as he did. When Crawford isn't on the court (as was the case for the final 8 minutes+ of the first half) he is going to be the general, but even in the second half Crawford deferred a bit to Wilbekin to play off of the wing a little more.

Wilbekin has seemingly added a driving dimension to his game, and has learned how to take contact and finish as well. This threat will get him space on the perimeter and should pay off in the form of more time to get an open release on the long ball.

Overall it will be interesting to see if Coach Manning continue to utilize VanHorn and O'Brien like he has been doing. I am not a fan of them both being out there at the same time, but do like the minutes we are getting from both of them, especially VanHorn.

I also really want to see John Collins get some more minutes inside, and think that can be done without changing too much around. That has a twofold benefit of developing Collins and becoming better defensively inside, and also moving Thomas out of the paint offensively to utilize his skill set.

This will be something to monitor moving forward because based on the first two games Danny Manning does not seem intent on playing Thomas and Collins a lot of minutes together. He prefers to have Moore and Thomas in there at the same time. I think that ultimately Collins will be a starter this year, so if, and when those two get on the court at the same time will be something to watch for.

The Deacs' are 2-0 and that's all that matters, but because of the depth issues now it will make the team better in the long run with rotational and walk-ons getting invaluable court time and exposure to real-time situational basketball.