first_imgRaven Fox was ready if not for her pesky warm-up shirt.Moments before, Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman had singled her out among the Orange bench and told her to sub in. Fox hopped off her seat and proceeded to the scorer’s table in the Carrier Dome in the midst of a conference game earlier this season. The buzzer sounded, signaling for Fox to enter, but her blue long-sleeve shirt was stuck around her torso and she struggled to discard it.Hillsman saw this, grimaced and went back to the bench and plucked another player off it. By the time Fox was set, she had been replaced. Subbed out before she could sub in.“It kind of made me upset,” Fox said of the incident, “but I just had to understand that I got to be prepared when he does call my name.”Many SU players know that they have a short leash when they are in a game, or in Fox’s case, about to enter. Anything from a missed assignment on defense, a passed up 3-pointer, or a uniform malfunction can trigger Hillsman to supplant them. Whenever he sees something that isn’t conducive to SU’s run-and-gun style, he turns on his heel and marches the sideline, seeking out a sub.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAside from his 3-point heavy offense and impressive style, Hillsman’s rapid subbing has become a staple of games this season. While SU has used the same starters in all of its games, only three players average at least 30 minutes per game, with four more averaging double-digit minutes. Hillsman currently utilizes an eight-player rotation, seven of whom are first-year SU players, making the short bench and constant switching inevitable. The quick subbing will most likely continue when Syracuse (22-7, 10-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) travels to Greensboro, North Carolina, on Thursday as the No. 8 seed in the ACC tournament.Sometimes he beckons players with an extended digit, a quick head nod or a not-so-subtle shout. Hillsman’s method of selecting players off his bench can seem sporadic because often times it is.“I wouldn’t say I have this real structured system of subbing,” Hillsman said. “A lot of times, it’s feel and obviously, there are certain points in the game or certain situations where we know we need certain personnel in the game.”Kevin Camelo | Digital Design EditorDuring SU’s non-conference slate, Hillsman was still trying to figure out the rotation. He predicted before the season that 10 players would see consistent minutes and he sought out the right combination. To do so, he subbed out players in bulk, often sending out two or three subs at once.Isis Young, part of the eight-player rotation, said Hillsman subbed frequently during the team’s preseason scrimmages. Syracuse’s style of play, a fast-paced offense backed up by a zone-press defense, necessitates “long minutes,” Young said. This strategy primed her to expect short rotations after not playing consistent minutes in any basketball program for four years.“It helps you stay in the flow of the game,” Young said before conference play started, “and it helps you get refreshed. You know you can get on the bench, take a minute or two off, see what needs to be done and then get right back on.”Freshman center Amaya Finklea-Guity also said that she’s adapted to Hillsman’s substitution style throughout the season. In recent team scrimmages, Hillsman doesn’t sub as much, she said. The team has focused instead on specific drills or plays.One of three players who play the middle of Syracuse’s 2-3 zone, Finklea-Guity is conscious of how foul trouble impacts her and frontcourt partner Digna Strautmane’s minutes. Either of them can be resting on the sidelines during a game, talking with assistant coach Adeniyi Amadou, and notice the other pick up a third or fourth foul. Most of the time they are up and walking over to the scorer’s table by the time Hillsman calls for them.“It’s very, I don’t know how to say it, direct I guess,” Finklea-Guity said, laughing when describing Hillsman’s substitution method. “You know when you’re going in. … It’s nothing much to it. He just gives you that look.”Not all players are subject to Hillsman’s sudden substitutions. Tiana Mangakahia, the new ACC single-season assist record holder, averages a team-high 34 minutes per game. The Orange relies on her dribble-drive penetration off-ball screens to create offense. No other guard on the roster has shown the ability to consistently attack the paint.Last season, the duo of Alexis Peterson and Brittney Sykes earned extended minutes. They averaged more than 33 minutes a contest, while no one else played more than 30 minutes a game. Mangakahia has followed and earned more time than her teammates. The reliance on the star point guard, however, has had its downsides in the form of turnovers.“If we want to play at that pace, we are going to have to sub fast,” Hillsman said. “We understand you need to get your players off the floor. You got to get your players a break and continue to play that way.”Hillsman usually spends games pacing the sideline, jawing at referees and ready to make a sub at a moment’s notice. If he’s near the scorer’s table, watching a possession on the opposite end of the court, he may turn his head and call a player’s name. Other times, he will teeter the sideline, head tilted at a 45-degree angle and keep imploring the same strategy that’s worked so far this season.“You just have to be locked in the whole time,” Fox said. “If you’re not doing your job, someone else will.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on February 27, 2018 at 10:17 pm Contact Nick: nialvare@syr.edu | @nick_a_alvarezlast_img

Quentin Hillsman’s structureless subbing has become a trademark this season for SU

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