Rebound Woes Haunt Team

Photo: 2013 Photo with DU’s Charles Webb (5’4″) & UC Irvine’s Mamadou Ndiaye (7’6″)

It is a near miracle DU is playing .500 ball at 10-10 heading into tonight’s game against South Dakota at Magness Arena.

This is a scrappy bunch that leaves everything on the floor but their chance of winning falls to almost zero without 50+% shooting from the floor and beyond the arc while winning the turnover and steal battle. With a -7.6 rebound differential, the Pioneers have slid to 334 out of 346 D-1 programs, putting a lot of pressure on a young team on both ends of the floor.

  • DU ranks dead last in defensive rebounds (346/346)
  • DU ranks dead last in offensive rebounds (346/346)
  • 24.3 Rebounds per game – dead last (346/346) with 24.3 RPG – only DU, Mt. St. Mary’s, Holy Cross, and American University are under 30 rebounds per game.

Denver’s height issue will not be fixed this year. Next year’s early commits, 6’0″ Luke Neff and 6’6″ Jake Krafka, will offer little immediate relief. DU needs to look seriously at bringing in larger players. Other mid-major teams have shown the ability to bring in 6’7″ – 6’8″ players that can rebound and score. Each team on DU’s schedule seems to have several.

DU’s head recruiter Dan Ficke is in his first year – so next season’s recruiting class will be his first opportunity to upgrade size. He is certainly aware of this issue. Not only that, with solid Freshmen in C.J. Bobbitt, Thomas Neff, and Joe Rosga, the window will close on a turnaround if the next recruiting class is not one of the best ‘big’ groups in DU history.

The other question that must be asked of this program is this: does the Princeton offense put DU at a rebounding disadvantage? Does the constant motion and rotation on the court leave DU rebounders out of solid rebounding position? Pete Carril, mastermind behind the Princeton offense, coached from 1954 to 1996. Since then, players have gotten bigger and longer. They’ve gotten better at limiting interior passing, especially against today’s longer teams.

In the Princeton offense, players are interchangeable. This can leave 6’3″ Joe Rosga and 6’0″ Bryant Rucker under the basket fighting 6’7″ – 6’9″ defenders with little chance to secure an offensive miss. Size would at least mitigate some of this disadvantage.

On the defensive end, over their last seven games, Denver has given up 198 points in the paint – 38 points more than their opponents. These ‘easy buckets’ stop DU defensive runs, improve opposition shooting percentages, and can be demoralizing. Again, DU’s size, especially with the loss of Daniel Amigo and Abiola Akintola, place them at a distinct disadvantage to their opponents.  The average height of DU’s last game starters was 6′ 4.5″.

DU has two options – either play man-to-man and face size mismatches or play zone and risk opponents going over the top for easy points in the paint.

Again, all is not lost. This team is young and plays hard. Some solid pieces are in place. The current squad will have to play with this size disadvantage for the balance of this season until larger players find their way to University and Evans.

Look for our game summary of tonight’s game against South Dakota and the third quarter report card.