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Platooning their way to greatness

December 6th, 2007

John Carroll University men’s basketball team does not follow the traditional standard in basketball. Rather than running a usual sub-package, JCU employs a much different strategy.

When head coach Mike Moran was still in the high school ranks, he began to develop the platoon system. While the system was not in the form it is in today, Moran was in the beginning stages of setting a trend in college basketball.

The platoon system currently used by JCU is, at times, a five-in, five-out system. JCU will subsitiute all five players on the court for a second set of five players. The substitution can be based on time, scoring or possessions.

“The advantage is fresh legs,” Moran said. “We rely on tiring teams and closing games out because of that.”

More and more teams are now picking up the platoon system used by JCU, as the ability to play double the usual amount of players gives teams such a large advantage.

Aside from the advantage of more fresh legs waiting on the bench, Moran also cited that practice becomes more competitive due to the increased competition for playing time.

Perhaps the greatest strength of the platoon system comes when other teams attempt to scout JCU.

When scouting a traditional team, a coach would need to prepare for the starting five players plus two or three bench players. When preparing for a team that platoons an opposing coach needs to prepare for double that.

“It is so much harder to prepare for the system,” Moran said. “You need to prepare for 10-12 players. Instead of needing to know the tendencies and style of one player you need to know the tendencies and styles of two players.”

The use of the platoon system has been sustained upon the success that JCU has had while running it. In the 2003-2004 season JCU reached the Final Four. Since the Final Four appearance JCU has made two Sweet Sixteen appearances.

“We are proud of the accomplishments we have had under the system,” Moran said. “We are not proud of the label but that [the system] has worked for us.”

The label Moran spoke of was that of the pioneer of the platoon system. While JCU is indeed the forerunner of the system the success the team has had is why coach Moran continues to use the system.

“We base ourselves off wins, losses and championships. If we were sub par the system would change,” Moran said.

Another advantage of the system is that the team is not hurt by a large number of graduating seniors.

JCU lost seven players from last season, four to graduation. However, JCU has seven players returning who appeared in over 17 games in 2006-2007.

This season, JCU returns seniors Tony DeMichele, John Curran, Derek Smith and All-American candidate Terry Walsh. Sophomores T.J. DiSanto, Rudy Kirbus and Travis Zajac will be crucial this season as they return for their second season with the Blue Streaks.

Walsh, who averaged 16.3 points per game last year, will be pivotal to JCU if they hope to advance past the Sweet Sixteen this season. Kirbus, who averaged over seven points per game last year, will draw attention away from Walsh at forward.

Another key offensive player for JCU will be Curran. Among players who saw the majority of time last season he led JCU with a .439 three-point shooting percentage.
JCU is off to a 3-2 start after taking the Albright College Wyndham Tip-Off Tournament to start the year. Walsh hit a buzzer beater in order to lift JCU to victory in the championship game as Smith and Kirbus joined him on the All-Tournament team.

JCU traveled to Muskingum yesterday and will return home to face Capital on Saturday, tip off is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.