Through his first five games* as head coach, we are starting to see some trends from Patrick Ewing regarding which members of his team are on the floor. I will leave any substantive statistical analysis concerning the players’ efficiency and use to others, but a cursory glance at the table below should give even the most Casual of fans an idea of which Hoyas are seeing the court in the early part of this allegedly soft out-of-conference schedule.
*”Games” against certain competitors include a maximum of 10% game by volume.
Of course, the biggest ‘game’ of the young season has been away against Richmond (which, despite not being widely televised, is streamable on replay) which saw the starting five of Jessie Govan, Kaleb Johnson, Marcus Derrickson, Jamorko Pickett, and Jonathan Mulmore all earn over 30 minutes a piece. Kaleb and Jamorko each play a wing-like role, but also provide ball-handling support for Mulmore in bringing the ball up. Derrickson has been playing more of a power-forward position adding more low-post time to complement his perimeter play. Jessie, of course, has been playing center, spends noticeably less time at the top of the key for hand-offs, and has found his three-point shots coming off of pick-and-pops and trailing step-ups.
Looking at minutes, outside of Game 1 (Jacksonville), where he struggled in his 11 minutes, Kaleb Johnson has played the second-most minutes behind Jessie Govan. Kaleb’s terrific growth this year was muted by a tough first game but no one can deny that his hustle and revolutionized shooting has earned major minutes on this team.
Govan, Derrickson, and Mulmore will likely play as many minutes each game as their respective foul counts allow them. For instance, both Derrickson and Mulmore learned important lessons about foul trouble in Game 2 (Mount) that seem to have sunk in.
Hoping it’s not a trend, Pickett’s minutes came down against Maine based on the scoreboard as well as what ostensibly appeared to be a couple “freshman mistakes.” Jamorko—with 30 minutes against Richmond—has looked promising on offense with an effortless shot, confident dribbling, and consistent finishes. While it should not be a bench-worthy issue, it was tough to see his 0 for 4 in 3-point attempts, at least with respect to hurting GU’s pretty high 3P% for the season.
From the bench, guards Jagan Mosely and Jahvon Blair have played very similar quantities of time in each game with the sole discrepancy being when Mosely eagerly ate up some of the minutes that Kaleb abandoned in the J’ville game. Freshman Antwan Walker, though recovering from illness last night (strep) against Maine, has had double digit minutes through the first three games and a diminished amount of court-time against Richmond.
Personally, I do not remember Trey Dickerson playing that single minute against Richmond that appeared in the box score, but perhaps they quickly determined he was not full speed recovering from a concussion that kept him out of the Mount and UMES games. Look for the slashing post-grad guard to gain more minutes as Ewing tries out everyone under 6’11” as supplemental ball handlers and press-breakers. The question is: those minutes will come at whose expense?
I would be remiss without noting how difficult it is to see Trey Mourning sitting in a suit as he is said to be recovering from surgery and likely to red-shirt the season. Best of luck.
As the Hoyas battle through the cupcake forest to gingerbread mountain, perhaps we will see more from super-tall Chris Sodom or more familiar reserves like Ra'Mond Hines and George Muresan. That said, for an offense that hopes to be fast-breaking often, comfortability with teammates and lineups can hopefully be perfected with in-game practice with the core.
Moving forward, watch how the guard minutes are divvied up as rotations seem to vary from having four guards on the court to the occasional “Mulmore + 4 wings.” Perhaps just as important will be observing what happens to the front court if/when Govan and Derrickson find themselves in foul trouble. There are some players on this team who deserve substantial minutes (8 or 9 guys?), but there appears to be a bit of a superficial logjam for the so-labeled shooting guards. Fitting the pieces in each lineup’s puzzle will be the focus of the next handful of exhibitions and trap games.
[Based on box scores from Sports-Reference.com]