A roster with legitimate talent depth is a virtue desired by not only college basketball teams, but teams in all four major sports.
Mostly, the headlines and the glory revolve around the starting five. But those five players can't play the entire game.
Inevitably, starters come out of the game. Basketball is a tiring sport that requires constant movement up and down a near-100 foot playing surface.
That's when depth on the bench becomes integral to team success. The most successful teams have reserves who step in and provide a similar level of productivity to that of the starters.
Maryland has one of the deepest rosters in the entire country, one that extends to ten players receiving substantial minutes.
In my opinion, substantial minutes should be defined as receiving at least 30 percent of the minutes in a regulation game. In a college contest lasting 40 minutes, that equates to 12 minutes.
Ten Maryland players average over 12 minutes per game.
Freshman Seth Allen, sophomores Alex Len, Dez Wells and Nick Faust, and junior Pe'Shon Howard all total over 20 minutes per night, but none of them average over 25 minutes.
Freshman Charles Mitchell and senior James Padgett average a few minutes per game shy of 20, while freshmen Jake Layman and Shaquille Cleare and senior Logan Aronhalt fall into the 12-16 minute per game range.
This relatively equal distribution of minutes translates to one of the most desirable attributes of a team, and one that will seriously help Maryland throughout the grueling stretch of ACC play.
Maryland doesn't have a true star player. Alex Len and newcomer Dez Wells have separated themselves as the evident go-to guys on the floor, but neither have put up superstar numbers.
Astonishingly, Maryland has only had the same leading scorer in consecutive games once this season, when Dez Wells exploded for 23 against Northwestern and then 25 against George Mason.
The Terps have only had a player score at least 20 points five different times.
Len scored 23 against Kentucky. Wells scored over 20 against Northwestern and George Mason consecutively. Layman and Allen scored 20 and 21 respectively against Virginia Tech.
Against Lafayette, Georgia Southern and UMES, Maryland had five players score in double figures. Many of those players were bench players.
Lastly, the most incredible nugget of all—against IUPUI, nine players had at least five shot attempts, but no one had more than six.
Talk about balance.
All of this would mean nothing if Maryland had a weak record. That certainly is not the case, as the Terps are sitting pretty at 13-1.
In fact, throughout Maryland's 13-game winning streak, it is beating opponents by an average of 18.4 points per game.
All of this success can be attributed to Maryland's balance throughout their roster, which is only possible because of its rare, 10-man rotation.
Coach Mark Turgeon is entering his second season of ACC conference play, and depth is going to give his team a major advantage over conference opponents.
Just take a look at the amount of players receiving substantial minutes on four of the other ACC contenders this season.
Duke gives six players substantial minutes, including four who receive at least 30 minutes per game. It hasn't affected Duke's undefeated run thus far, but fatigue is bound to bite the Blue Devils later on down the road.
NC State also gives just six players substantial minutes, including three who receive at least 30 minutes per game. After Mark Gottfried's nucleus of C.J. Leslie, Rodney Purvis, Lorenzo Brown, T.J. Warren, Richard Howell and Scott Wood, the Wolfpack don't have many other pieces to muscle through the long haul of ACC play.
North Carolina gives eight players substantial minutes, which isn't an awful number, but it certainly doesn't give the Tar Heels as much balance and fresh legs.
Miami's minute totals are a bit skewed due to Durand Scott missing four games, and Reggie Johnson missing seven. Still, the Hurricanes give eight men substantial minutes, including two who receive over 35 minutes per game, and four who receive at least 30. Miami is another team where the backcourt depth worries me.
Substituting in some fresh legs and trying to run the opponent out of the gym is always going to be an option for Maryland, which may give them the ultimate edge during conference play.
Making ten players happy in a 40-minute window might give Turgeon some headaches. But the pain may be worth it in the end if the Terps can use their deep, 10-man rotation to its advantage.
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