Sixth Man of the Year is a difficult award to hand out on a Hubert Davis coached teams. His aversion to substitution patterns, hierarchy, or regular minutes is well known by now. So there’s not a lot of empirical data to look at, a lot of intuition has to be taken into account.
Caleb Love, RJ Davis, and Armando Bacot were offensive usage monsters, so whoever came into games wasn’t counted on to score. If they did, it was a bonus, so the top bench contributor had to bring it on defense.
Also, as the old coaching saying goes, one of the greatest abilities a player can have is availability. Puff Johnson, who was unfortunate to miss six games with a knee injury, had fits and starts and never seemed to take off from what looked like a career launching point during last year’s tournament run. This season feels like a missed opportunity for the junior.
There’s only one bench player that played all 33 games (he started two after Pete Nance hurt his back). His minutes, like most of the bench, varied wildly but trended down as the Heels hit the home stretch of the regular season.
Seth Trimble, a point guard on a team that starts two point guards, was always destined to start his Carolina career on the bench. When he came into games, it was usually because Hubert Davis needed a bullguard to matchup with someone who was lighting up one RJ or Caleb. Taller than RJ at 6’3” with a solid, muscular build, and more defensively engaged and aware than Caleb, Trimble was consistently terrorizing on defense, stacking nine blocked shots, the most of any guard on the team, with a pittance of the minutes played.
Ironically, Trimble’s defensive focus made it difficult for HD to put him on the floor since Leaky Black was playing such heavy minutes. Having two defensive specialists on the floor at the same time ground the offense to a halt.
In 68 minutes against KenPom Tier A&B competition, Carolina lineups with both Leaky Black and Seth Trimble on the floor have an efficiency margin of -34.1. The Heels are scoring just 0.70 PPP in those minutes.— Adrian Atkinson (@FreeportKid) February 20, 2023
Where Trimble struggled the most was offense. He either lacked the confidence or green light to fire away from the perimeter, and he would attack the paint, but not the rim, stopping and backing out too often. Trimble is a superior athlete with great hops (like his older brother JP Tokoto) and serious hangtime. Check out this transition layup:
In case anyone was wondering...— Carolina Basketball (@UNC_Basketball) November 8, 2022
Seth Trimble is VERY athletic. pic.twitter.com/b1XkFelsJD
Next season, Trimble needs to run with the ball and attack the rim. His 45.5% FG was second in bench players only to Jalen Washington’s 45.7% (I’m ignoring Justin McKoy’s 46.2% because he only had 12 attempts all season). Most of those shots were in the paint, which was fine for his freshman season, but he needs to get more comfortable shooting from the perimeter, which he did successfully in high school and for Team USA.
It is highly possible (pending any additional roster departures) that Seth Trimble finds himself starting next to RJ Davis next season. This could allow RJ to focus more on scoring if Trimble brings the ball up, which he can do with control and speed. Hopefully Seth feels that he has a future in Chapel Hill and doesn’t unexpectedly enter the transfer portal.