Before last night, Coach Jim Larranaga's Hurricanes appeared pretty solid with a nice 8, sometimes 9 man rotation.
Tonye Jekiri/Joe Thomas start in the 4/5 slots with Omar Sherman backing up both.
Sheldon McClellan, Manu Lecomte, and Angel Rodriguez comprised a 3 guard line-up that almost any team in the country would envy. And JaQuan Newton, James Palmer, and Deandre Burnett (when healthy) made for a pretty deep back court bench.
Palmer and Sherman were averaging over 20 minutes a contest and Newton was right at 15 a game.
The 6'8 Sherman played 18 minutes last night.
Newton and Palmer however, combined for just 14.
Burnett came off the bench and scored a career high 19 points with some sharp shooting and timely drives, added 8 big rebounds, and played pretty decent defense in 24 minutes in last night's 70-61 win over the Illini.
(Listen to Coach L talk about how Deandre's rebounding earned him more minutes)
But most importantly, Burnett's ability to create his own shot kept the 'Canes offense from stalling and helped short circuit several Illinois rallies.
No doubt, Coach L did the right thing riding the hot hand.
So what happens from here?
My guess is Larranaga gets each minutes with no set plan going forward and plays the player who best suits his needs for said game, and/or gets hot early.
It's going to be very competitive.
With a very small sample size to look at, it is obvious each is talented and all have different skill sets.
Palmer is a pure shooter, but can handle the ball as well. He's not an explosive athlete, but at 6'4 has the best size of the three.
Newton is easily the best distributor and is pretty close as a slasher to Burnett. He has yet to attempt a trifecta this season, so his shooting touch remains uncertain.
Burnett is the best bucket getter of the group. Last night's performance also seems to put him at the front of the line if Miami needs help on the glass, despite being just 6'2.
"Motivation from coach," Burnett explained of his ability to get near double digits off the glass.
"You want to play you have to rebound."
So going forward.....
Need a shooter/rebounder, tap Burnett.
Need an extra ball handler, you're up JaQuan.
The situation calls for a little of everything, James Palmer is your guy.
There is one caveat to this all however. Palmer, Newton, and Burnett could very well be auditioning for minutes altogether.
6'6 Davon Reed, a player Coach L singled out on Monday for knowing what is expected defensively and on the boards(not to mention he started a good part of the season last year at PG), should be back sometime this month.
When he returns to the line-up, it means less minutes for everyone.
And oh yeah, in January following a 17 game suspension, 6'10 Ivan Cruz Uceda will also be available. And while this threatens Thomas' minutes more than anyone else, it also means less 4 guard line-ups.
At that point, Miami will be 11 deep.
11 effective players who can all contribute.
How will the minutes be distributed? Stay tuned to find out.
8-0 and ranked #15, too many good players, not enough minutes.
Even in the talent rich ACC, we imagine the coaches of all the programs Jim Larranaga will be competing with, are not sympathizing with his plight.
"They were really hard to guard," Illinois Coach John Groce observed in the post game.
"They spread us out and made really good plays. They can shoot, pass, and dribble. You have to give them credit, those guys are really good players."
And thus they give the Miami coaching staff, really good problems to have... really good problems to have.