It used to be that the “bench” was reserved for those basketball athletes who would only get to play when their team was well ahead or too far behind to catch up. That’s not so true today.
After getting an opportunity to talk to the coaches of both the boys and girls teams at Rocklin, Lincoln and Whitney, almost none spoke of a “starting five.” It’s true, only five players per team can be on the court at the same time, but many of the coaches indicated it wouldn’t necessarily be the same five for each game.
Prep basketball appears to be a rougher game than when the jump ball was used instead of a possession arrow. However, it’s probably not so much rougher as it is faster. Because of that, many coaches have to go to their benches earlier in order to keep a fresh team on the floor.
Size still matters in basketball, but it would be more accurate to use “size” when referring to how deep was any one team’s bench strength.
That means many coaches are keeping more players than usual on their squads. A player who might have been cut in the past, may now be an integral part of the team with regular playing time.
“Some teams can only go eight (players deep),” said Lincoln boys basketball head coach Robert Ash. “We have 15 guys that can give quality minutes. It’s a good problem to have.”
It also opens the door for greater future development.