One of the reasons the Arizona Wildcats were able to achieve so much success last season was the depth of the team. Nine players averaged double-digit minutes and a tenth came in just a few seconds short of that mark.
Not only does it pay off in March Madness, but it also allows a head coach to keep his players fresh throughout the regular season, especially once conference play begins. Not only is it valuable for the current season, but it also prepares bench players for a bigger role down the road.
Sean Miller has always preached using a team's depth to its advantage and that will be the case once again in 2011. Despite Derrick Williams, Lamont 'MoMo' Jones and Jamelle Horne leaving the program, Arizona figures to play nine or ten players once again throughout the season.
Kyle Fogg, Solomon Hill and Jesse Perry all figure to receive the most minutes out of anyone. Not only are these three veteran leaders on the team, but they also posses the fundamental skills required to make it through an entire game.
Once Kevin Parrom fully recovers from the shooting that took place earlier this month, he will also be among those who see the most playing time. His status is still completely up in the air at this point, though.
Assuming freshman point guard Josiah Turner is the starter, he should see a lot of playing time. Behind him, sophomore Jordin Mayes is a very talented backup and will likely see an increased role after playing 14 minutes-per-game last season.
While Fogg will probably lead the pack in terms of minutes played, athletic freshman Nick Johnson will be one of the first players off the bench and should see quite a bit of playing time in his first season. Senior guard Brendon Lavender could also play quite a bit, especially if he is able to translate his excellent play in practice onto the McKale Center floor.
There are a lot of minutes up for grabs in the post. Perry will command most of them at the four, but expect freshmen big men Angelo Chol and Sidiki Johnson to earn playing time throughout the season. They are both very talented and eager to get off the bench and into the game.
The biggest question mark surrounding playing time is at the center position. In a perfect world, Kyryl Natyazhko lives up to his potential and becomes a solid force both offensively and defensively in the middle. Arizona fans have seen flashes of brilliance from the 6'11, 270 pound Natyazhko, but consistency has always been an issue.
If Kyryl is able to put it all together this season, he will command a large chunk of minutes. If not? Well, those freshmen big men might see a lot more playing time than they originally anticipated. That could lead to some very interesting lineup changes from Sean Miller this season.