Commentary

Depth is important this season

Updated: November 15, 2013, 11:18 AM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

The college basketball season is a week old, and we already have a trend developing.

In watching a number of games, I have seen coaches going deeper with their bench.

I really felt going into the season that to win in the sport, you had to develop more players because of the tighter rules calling fouls. There were going to be players picking up a second foul early, being forced to the bench, meaning secondary players would have a greater role.

I saw that out of the gate when Florida's Patric Young and Kasey Hill each got two fouls in the first half of its opener. The Gators had enough depth to survive the situation.

Other teams are not as fortunate when their stars get sent to the bench.

That is another reason why I wish the college game would add another foul, making six for disqualification from a game. That is something I hope gets considered in the future.

I also have seen some coaches have stars coming off the bench. You have to like teams like Duke and Memphis.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski had Rasheed Sulaimon off the bench in Duke's first two games. Sulaimon started in 33 of the team's 36 games last season, averaging 11.6 points a game, fourth-best on the team. This season, he scored 33 points in the first two games, providing a spark. Coach K has given him plenty of minutes, averaging 36.5, third-most on the team.

Memphis had guard Chris Crawford coming off the bench in its opening win over Austin Peay. He gave a boost by hitting the trifecta, finishing with 11 points in 23 minutes. He started 10 games last season but was comfortable coming off the bench after that. Coach Josh Pastner added transfer Michael Dixon Jr., so Crawford returned to the role off the bench this season.

Schools will have to learn to make adjustments with the tougher calls by officials. You will see more players in foul trouble, but it is in an effort to clean up the game and allow for more offensive efficiency. We have seen more freedom of movement and better play in the first week of the season. I believe this is a positive in the long run.

It is nice to have players who could start at a lot of Division I schools coming in relief roles to give a lift.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.

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