Using my Hamline
team as an example.
We play zone, and I (almost) always play uptempo (almost more to cover my *** than actually being able to remember the last time I changed that setting). I have played fatigue (everyone on fairly fresh) once this season - this game
. The opponent was playing normal (not uptempo, not slowdown) motion/M2M and, with my playing uptempo/motion/zone, my bench is hardly used. Only one player off the bench was over 12 minutes, and the bench minutes were 17-12-11-11-9-2. Plus, that was with my starting center in foul trouble and fouling out in only 21 minutes. Going just by fatigue, his 83 stamina in zone/motion/uptempo gets him 30 minutes, so the bench would see even less play.
But, you ask, why is that bad? Most people have the better players start, so why not maximize their minutes on the court at fairly fresh or better?
A few reasons:
1) Fatigue. As designed, if everyone on the bench is fully rested and no one is in foul trouble, fairly fresh - the most aggressive sub setting - kicks in at the first dead ball following the drop in fatigue level. So even a team of super stamina guys is going to have some portion of the minutes (what portion varies from game to game) played with guys below "fresh" under fatigue substitutions. If you tweak the target minutes properly, it is possible to have the entire game played by "fresh" players. For a team playing uptempo and pressing, you may not get everyone at "fresh" for the whole game, but you can still get more minutes at better fatigue than relying just on fatigue subs.
2) Promises. People often concede this point, but seem to dismiss it as unimportant. It's not. The promise of a start can make a big difference in recruiting - especially at D3 where you are recruiting with a relatively limited budget. But if you promise a start and use fatigue substitutions, you are also committing to playing the recruit for a substantial portion of time right away. Now, you can limit the damage somewhat by scheduling the first half of OOC play relatively easy, but that has drawbacks of its own. Particularly with guards who haven't played your offense in high school, they can be turnover machines if they see much PT (especially against press, obviously).
So, against crappy teams who don't mind running a low-IQ freshman out there and taking losses, I have some prestige advantage from running a winning program.
Against other good teams who value wins, I still have a recruiting advantage in that I can be more liberal in my use of promises without running the same risk of game losses.
3) Development. Using target minutes for (most of) my games, it is much easier for me to maximize development of my younger players. While there are drawbacks to it (primarily because margin of victory plays a role in rankings and I generally don't blow people out), I judge the other team and will put a combination of players out there that I believe maximizes the play of my developing players without risking (too much) a loss. I can also give (un-promised) starts to players with lower WE but high potential players to get that extra boost without necessarily playing them until they are tired. If you plan on trying to maintain a D3 team long-term (instead of using it to move up to a higher division) that can be useful.
4) Game-Planning. If you're using fatigue subs, the number of wrinkles you can incorporate into your game planning is relatively limited. If the skill sets provide for it, you can maybe switch up a SG/SF or PF/C to exploit a matchup, but that's close to the extent of it. If you have a dominant scorer, for exmaple, you can only do so much to "hide" him from a shut-down defender or two. It becomes something of a guessing game at times, trying to predict what the opposing coach will do. With target minutes though, I can have that scorer move seamlessly between multiple positions, and maximize the number of minutes he plays against opposing backups (over whom he often will enjoy a significant advantage in ATH/SPD or some other facet). It becomes very difficult for opponents to match players up, and when they do so they are generally trying to guess what I am going to do, instead of the other way around.
I think, because there are so many people who are of fatigue-sub-only mindset, this is a big reason why people sometimes think of Hoops Dynasty as Recruiting Dynasty. Get the better players and let then run (often literally, it seems, with the use/abuse of press as a base defense) is a dominant mindset. But that's not the way it has to be.
Overall: Really, it comes down to control. I'm just conceited enough to think that (more often than not) maximizing control over how my players are used will benefit the team in the long run.
I'm not saying there aren't times/teams where using fatigue subs makes sense.
I am saying that simply using fatigue subs and never making use of target minutes leaves a lot of control on the table and (overall) isn't the most efficient way to do it either.