NC State's depth 'problem'

Updated: November 15, 2012, 1:42 PM ET
By Seth Greenberg

Depth can be a tricky thing in college basketball.

On one hand, it can be a major asset for a coach for a variety of reasons: It helps if one or more key players suffers an injury; it makes practices more competitive, which can pay dividends in games; and it is an asset when teams have to play games on a quick turnaround.

But on the other hand, too much depth can be a very difficult thing for a coach to manage. Many times, if a coach has several talented players he is trying to keep happy and engaged, the end result can be a dysfunctional team.

Why? Because when a player knows he can play through his mistakes, he gains confidence. Most players need to get in a rhythm, and it's harder to do that if they're worried that they'll be subbed out the first time they turn the ball over or miss a shot. And seeing as how there are media timeouts every four minutes, a seven- or eight-man rotation is more than adequate in terms of keeping players fresh.

Another advantage of a short rotation is that it makes it easier for players to champion their roles, play to their strengths and buy in. Not every player can be their team's leading scorer, and for a team to compete at the highest level, it needs screeners, lockdown defenders and play-starters. There is a direct correlation between players knowing how many minutes they're going to get -- and what roles they're going to play -- and how well both they and the team will perform.

Depth will be a key focus for coach Mark Gottfried and the North Carolina State Wolfpack this season. The Wolfpack have the potential to be an elite team, one that can compete for ACC and national titles. But in order for that to happen, Gottfried will have to find the right balance with a roster that has more talented players than it does significant roles in the rotation.

Here are the five biggest depth-related questions confronting NC State this season: