Carolina hoops is three games into the Hubert Davis era. While the sample size of games is tiny, fans are hungry to find the differences after 18 seasons with Roy Williams as the head coach.

The distribution of minutes points to a much tighter rotation. There is more than one kind of comparsion to be made, and with a three game sample size, let’s compare the minutes distribution of the top-nine rotation players from the first three games last season to the first three games this season.

Carolina: Percentage of minutes played through first three games
This compares the small sample size of the first three games and the percentage of minutes played.
Last Season (first 3 games) This Season (first 3 games)
Player Minutes % Player Minutes %
Caleb Love
75.0
Caleb Love
84.2
Leaky Black
71.7
Brady Manek
68.3
RJ Davis
68.3
RJ Davis
67.5
Garrison Brooks
66.7
Armando Bacot
65.8
Armando Bacot
51.7
Leaky Black
60.8
Day'Ron Sharpe
47.5
Kerwin Walton
59.2
Andrew Platek
44.2
Dawson Garcia
57.5
Kerwin Walton
26.7
Justin McKoy
20.8
Walker Kessler
23.3
Anthony Harris
7.5
table by @dadgumboxscores

Through three games last season, five players were on the court for at least 50 percent of possible minutes.

This season?

Seven players have been on the court for at least 50 percent of possible minutes.

Carolina has predominatly used seven lineups across this combination of seven players this season. Only one lineup has played at least 10 percent of the possible minutes together this season. The Heels have played 30 lineups in three games.

Carolina: Most frequent lineups
Through three games of the 2021-22 season sorted by percentage of minutes played.
% of Minutes
1 Davis Love Black Manek Bacot
19.3
2 Davis Love Walton Manek Garcia
9.0
3 Love Walton Black Garcia Bacot
7.5
4 Love Walton Black Manek Bacot
7.0
5 Davis Love Black Garcia Bacot
6.4
6 Love Walton Black Manek Garcia
5.6
7 Davis Love Black Manek Garcia
5.0
@dadgumboxscores | data via kenpom.com | hoopR

So, what’s to make of the tighter rotation?

A lot of assumptions can be made, including:

  • new head coach wants to win
  • COVID year limited continuity
  • seven new players added to roster, including three transfers
  • players spend less time in college
  • NIL and new transfer rules

Any explanation that isn’t the head coach is playing the best players feels overcomplicated.

If it feels that simple, it might be that simple.

The seven players that have played the most amount of minutes give Carolina the best chance to win. And while the Heels are 0-3 against the spread, the team has won all three games its played.

Hubert Davis has shared the starting lineup is based off defensive grades. An attempt to incentivize better defense for a team that might struggle on that end of the court. Whether a player starts or not, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re playing more minutes.

Leaky Black has won the defensive player of the game of the award each time its been given this season (Wanda won it for the Brown game), and Black has started all three games.

Not sure there is a more polarizing player amonst the fanbase than Leaky Black in recent Carolina history. Despite starting every game, Black has played ~61 percent of possible minutes this season. Last season, Black played ~71 percent of possible minutes through the first three games.

Kerwin Walton has yet to start a game this season. Walton’s played ~59 percent of possible minutes this season or just about the exact same as Black. It’s 73 total minutes to 71 total minutes.

Caleb Love has played 101 of a possible 120 minutes so far this season. The 84.2 percent of possible minutes is quite high. If we extend the comparsion to past full seasons of the Roy Williams Era, only nine other players have been on the court for 80 percent or more of possible minutes.

Carolina: Highest percentage of minutes played
Caleb Love's numbers are only through three games of the 2021-22 season
Player Minutes %
1
Marcus Paige
2013-2014
88.4
2
Raymond Felton
2003-2004
84.8
3
David Noel
2005-2006
84.3
4
Caleb Love
2021-2022
84.21
5
Garrison Brooks
2019-2020
83.2
6
Marcus Paige
2014-2015
82.5
7
Tyler Hansbrough
2007-2008
81.4
8
Luke Maye
2017-2018
80.3
9
Joel Berry II
2017-2018
80.3
10
Justin Jackson
2016-2017
80.2
@dadgumboxscores | data via goheels.com

1 Only three games played.

So yes, the rotation is tighter compared to last season. But any sort of conclusion after a three game sample size feels dangerous.