Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Rebounding is about smarts, energy

Came across a good article recently about Nick Kohs, a 6-foot-8, 215-pound center at Christian Brothers University in Memphis, who has "developed into one of NCAA Division 2's most consistent 20-point, 10-rebound performers."

According to the article, "at 6-8, Kohs doesn't necessarily tower over opposing players. He isn't exactly what you would call a wide body either. And blocking out isn't necessarily a specialty of his."

''I think the best rebounders are the smartest rebounders,'' Kohs said. ''When a shot goes up, if you know where it's going to hit off the rim, then you know where to go to get it. I'm not the best person at boxing out, but if you're going to go up and get the ball, you've got to be fearless going to get the rebounds."

Michael Beasley, 6-10, led the nation in rebounding last season. The season before that, it was 6-8 Rashad Jones-Jennings. As it stands now, 6-10 Blake Griffin is the top rebounder.

Back in 2002-03, 6-foot-7 Brandon Hunter averaged 12.6 rebounds per game, tops in the country. Now go back seven years, when 6-foot-6 Jeremy Bishop averaged 12 rebounds a game for Quinnipiac.

You may be thinking, "Quinnipiac plays in the Northeast Conference, not the ACC, Big 12, SEC, Big East, Pac-10, or Atlantic 10. A 6-6 guy would have trouble leading the nation in rebounding if he played in one of those conferences."

But that's exactly what Pitt's Jerome Lane (pictured above) did back in 1987, when as a 6-foot-6 guard-forward he led the nation in rebounding with 13.5 per game while playing in the Big East.

And he did it in the NBA, averaging 9.3 rebounds a game with the Nuggets in 1990-91. In a 1990 game against the Houston Rockets, which featured Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon and Otis Thorpe, Lane had 27 rebounds and 19 points. He also played, for a time, in the CBA, where he had a 35-rebound game.

In the book "Pitt: 100 Years of Pitt Basketball," Curtis Aiken, Lane's teammate, said:

"Jerome amazed me. He shocked me. He did the things he was able to do because of willpower. Most of his rebounds weren't because he could sky over you, but because of positioning. He had a knack for the ball."

Says Lane:

"You can't teach rebounding. I guess I just wanted the ball more than anybody else. When the ball goes up, you just attack the rebound. In my situation, I figured, 'If I can't get the rebound, then I can't get to the other end of the court and score.'"

According to a February 1987 article in the NY Times, "Lane, at 212 pounds, hardly looks the part of monster rebounder. His shoulders aren't exceptionally wide and he's not a sky-walking jumper."

''That's why I'm surprised to be leading the nation,'' says Lane in the article. ''I'm more of a finesse player, I'm not a strength player. There's no way I could get up and just gorilla over somebody. I'm expecting that every ball that goes up is going to be a miss, while the other guy's probably thinking that it's going to be a make. I'm going to the hoop thinking that everybody is going to miss their shot. Maybe that's the difference. If I don't rebound, we're going to lose. Everybody can't score, everybody can't play the same role."

CLE forward Ben Wallace, who's led the NBA in rebounding twice and is a four-time member of the NBA's All-Defensive team, puts it this way:

"Rebounding is not about size, rebounding is about energy. You know the ball goes up and you've got 10 guys on the court. Whoever wants it the most is going to come up with it. That's what rebounding is about."