So when the sophomore grabbed 13 rebounds against Alabama in early January, it looked like an aberration. But then Beverley grabbed 12 against South Carolina. And after setting a career-high with 15 rebounds against LSU two games later, it started becoming clear the paint may be right where Beverley belongs.
"It's pretty absurd," Arkansas center Steven Hill said. "He's always going to the boards. He wants them. All he talks about is rebounding. He loves to rebound."
Beverley enters tonight's game at No. 4 Tennessee (21-2, 8-1 in Southeastern Conference) as a guard with an uncanny knack for getting the ball as it caroms off the backboard and rim. The Chicago native is averaging a team-high 7.1 rebounds a game and has been even more impressive in the first half of SEC play.
Beverley is averaging a league-high 11 rebounds in conference games and has grabbed 10 or more in seven of the past eight. How is he accomplishing it? Coach John Pelphrey said Beverley is simply playing much, much bigger than his size.
"All I can say is the kid loves to play, loves to compete," Pelphrey said. "It's important to him. I know that he doesn't have great physical size, but if you crack his chest open, take a look at his heart, it may be 7-feet."
The way Beverley attacks the boards has teammates, coaches and opponents watching with admiration. Pelphrey said it best when he recently described Beverley's rebounding spree as "uncharted territory" for a player of his stature. At least at Arkansas.
Ronnie Brewer, who is 6-7, led the Razorbacks on the boards in 2004 (5.5) and 2005 (4.8). Joe Johnson — also 6-7 — grabbed a team-high 5.7 rebounds in 2000 and 6.4 in 2001. And, of course, Sidney Moncrief led Arkansas in rebounding four straight years during his illustrious career from 1976-79 even though he was 6-4.
But one thing that distinguishes Beverley from those three is this: He's at least three inches shorter. In fact, his 7.1 rebounds a game puts him on pace to become Arkansas' shortest rebounding leader in more than 30 years.
"He's got a nose for it," Auburn coach Jeff Lebo said. "He wants it. I think a lot of times guys have the mentality when a shot goes up they think of it as a pass to them.
"He has that mentality and goes and gets that ball whether it's an offensive rebound or a defensive rebound. And he's relentless. He doesn't just go when he feels like he can get it. He goes all the time and gets rewarded."
Moncrief, who is now a shooting coach for the Golden State Warriors, said all of those instincts are important for any rebounder.
Moncrief averaged 8.3 rebounds a game during his career and was known for his tenacity. But what Beverley is accomplishing left an impression on him Tuesday.
"That's very unique, 11 a game for anybody is pretty impressive," Moncrief said. "I think rebounding is such a skill, something people think you can teach, but it's basically your heart and your ability to go after the basketball."
Moncrief said teammates also play a critical role in anyone's ability to grab that many rebounds, something Beverley has acknowledged.
He doesn't stand under the basket to box out post players. Instead, taller teammates like Hill and center Darian Townes have done a good job of tying up defenders. Beverley has handled things from there with his quickness and desire to corral every loose ball.
"I feel like they go out there and they do all the dirty work," Beverley said. "They box out. I just go in there and I'm in the right place a the right time."
But Beverley is doing so at a much greater rate now. He averaged 4.5 rebounds a a freshman. That number was up to 4.9 boards before SEC play began this winter.
Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said Beverley has simply turned up the tenacity since conference play began. The rest of the Hogs have done their part and, as a result, he is one of only three players — and the only guard — averaging a double-double in SEC play.
"It is hard to come up with another 6-1, 180 pound double-double guy," Pearl said. "It just speaks to what a special athlete he is. He plays hard. He's such a productive player."
Beverley said he never knows how many rebounds he collected until someone tells him after games. But teammates joke that his confidence is turning into greed.
For instance, Beverley outrebounded teammate Michael Washington in the Mississippi State game and ended up throwing the 6-10 forward to the ground. He also ripped the ball out of Hill's hands in Arkansas' win against Ole Miss last Saturday.
"I tell him that all the time, ‘We're the one that's banging down low so you get that free lane for the rebound,'" Hill said. "He's getting 11 a game and he's only a sophomore. I need all the rebounds I can get. He's selfish in that area, but it's OK."
Said Pelphrey: "I was kidding him the other day that he's hurting our frontcourt players. He's hurting their careers because he won't let them get any rebounds."
But the Razorbacks don't want Beverley to stop hitting the boards.
He is on pace to have the highest rebounding total for an Arkansas player since 1999, when Derek Hood averaged 10.3. He's also on pace to set the school's single-season record for rebounds in SEC games. Hood grabbed 9.5 rebounds that year.
In addition, no guard has led the league in rebounding in SEC games dating back to 1990-91, according to records. It's not clear the last time a guard led the SEC in league games, but Beverley would be one of just a few if he can continue his current pace.
After watching him the past few games, the Razorbacks are certain it will continue.
"He's just got some confidence in his rebounding," Hill said. "That just kind of fuels the fire with Pat. If he's having success with something, he just wants to keep doing it."
Arkansas' Patrick Beverley, is on pace to set a school record for rebounds per game during SEC play. Even if he stands just 6-foot-1. Here is a look at where Beverley ranks among other Razorbacks' rebounding leaders in SEC games.
PLAYER HT RBS YEAR
*Patrick Beverley 6-1 11.0 2008
Derek Hood 6-8 9.5 1999
Nick Davis 6-9 9.3 1998
Corliss Williamson 6-7 7.8 1994
Todd Day 6-6 6.9 1992
* Eight SEC Games Remaining
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