If every player in the eight man rotation played the same amount of minutes, how would they stack up? If every guy had the chance to play a whole game, what would their stats look like? Take a peek:
Assuming 40 Minutes Per Game (ex: PPG/MPG*40)-
Tory Jackson- 12.3 PPG, 6.2 APG, 5.5 RPG
Kyle McAlarney- 17.7 PPG, 3.8 APG
Ryan Ayers- 14.6 PPG, 4.3 RPG
Zach Hillesland- 8.4 PPG, 8.6 RPG
Luke Harangody- 28.2 PPG, 14.6 RPG
Luke Zeller- 13.9 PPG, 8.3 RPG
Jonathan Peoples- 9.3 PPG, 6.4 RPG
Ty Nash- 12.9 PPG, 11.8 RPG
Exhibit A in the "Zach Hillesland plays too much" argument. Obviously, these averages can't be taken as gospel truth. Ty Nash plays 8.4 minutes a game, so it is possible (though rather unlikely) that his high averages are mere statistical noise, the result of a small sample size and the street ball nature of the last few minutes of a game. What gives makes these numbers relevant is how well they pass the "eye-test," the subjective grader within each of us.
If Zach Hillesland and Ty Nash played every second of a 40 minute game, Nash would dramatically outperform our current starting power forward. 4.5 extra points and 3.2 extra rebounds per contest would be a big help. It's not just Nash either. Slow footed seven footer Luke Zeller would provide five-and-a-half more points per game over Hillesland with no sizable drop off in rebounding.
Upon further review, Ryan Ayers seems like a pretty solid starter. He doesn't take enough shots some days and can hang out on the perimeter too much, but he clearly provides more offense than the alternatives. His offensive rating (points per possesion), rates highest on the team and in the top 50 nationwide.
With Hillesland eating floor time and having Zeller and Nash compete for minutes off the bench, the Irish are wasting an opportunity to improve an already offense that is already 5th in the country. Though Zach's athleticism makes him a decent defender, both Nash and Zeller have shown the ability to match up well enough most of the time. If Hillesland is not clearly the best option at power forward at either end of the floor, you have to wonder why he is earning so much playing time over two more productive post men.
EDIT: Zach Hillesland's Career Stats Per 40 Minutes:
2005-2006- 10.9 PPG, 3.6 RPG
2006-2007- 11.8 PPG, 9.8 RPG
2007-2008- 10.9 PPG, 9.3 RPG
2008-2009- 8.4 PPG, 8.6 RPG
I wondered why my support of Zach has waned so much recently. It's pretty clear his production has actually decreased over the course of his career. As a sophomore, he was a pretty solid 6th man (his best role). In a little over one full season as a starter, his stats have dropped dramatically. More time, less production, not good.