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According to NCAA statistics, DU is rated 325th out of 346 teams with a -7 rebound differential versus their opponents. This deficit has become more pronounced over the last four games, all losses, as the rebounding differential has swollen to -12.75.
The Pioneers do not not need to win the rebound battle. However, they need to keep it close. The difference can be overcome by improved shot selection, reduced turnovers, superior free throw percentage and steals.
Many fans believe that player height equals rebounds. According to USA Basketball, height and good jumping ability have certain advantages in rebounding but they are by no means the only factor in becoming a good rebounder. They call on intangibles of aggressiveness and determination along with positioning (technique) as rebounding keys. Most other articles call on these basic skills and include blocking-out, balance, jump timing, and using both hands to gain and secure the ball.
Others contend that rebounding is instinctual and cannot be taught. The Golden State Warrior and 1-year UCLA’s rebounding machine Kevin Looney, much like Dennis Rodman, says he knows where the ball will land when it leaves the shooter’s hand. His teammates decided it’s a skill that cannot be taught, and Looney can’t explain it beyond crediting instincts.
Another big-time rebounder is Joel Bolomboy with Weber State, currently 3rd in the country with 13 rebounds per game. The Pioneers held him to 7 rebounds earlier this season so they have shown the ability to control a top rebounder. Bolombey, like Looney, stands at 6’9″ so size does have its benefits.
Roster height is an obvious disadvantage for the Pioneers, especially when they play better, bigger teams. At this point, agressiveness and determination are the only tools at their disposal along with better techniques under the basket. The next two games at home against Oral Roberts and IPFW at Magness against the 3rd and 4th ranked Summit teams respectively allow the Pioneers a chance to narrow the growing rebounding gap.