Indiana's recent rebounding struggles aren't just a concern to Mike Davis.
"It's scary," said the Hoosier head coach.
Since conference play opened, Indiana has been bludgeoned on the boards, getting out-rebounded by an average of 10 per game. Michigan owned a 42-29 edge in the league opener behind 21 from forward Graham Brown, and Ohio State dominated on the glass in the first half before eventually out-boarding the Hoosiers 36-30.
Those struggles were overshadowed by the fact Indiana managed to pull out a pair of homecourt wins last week, but the problem was in the spotlight in East Lansing as the Spartans dominated the glass, 29-18. IU's leading rebounder on the season, Marco Killingsworth, was limited to just one rebound after averaging 7.5 in the first 12 games.
"If you're a poor rebounding team you should be able to at least get 25 and we got 18, so we're below poor," said Davis.
In need of further evidence? Davis pointed out that Indiana's third-leading offensive rebounder this season is 5-8 Errek Suhr, whose 10 offensive rebounds trails only Killingsworth (21) and Robert Vaden (12).
"How scary is that," asked Davis rhetorically.
Indiana headed into conference play owning a +6.5 rebounding margin, but it's seen that shrink to +2.7 after three league contests. On the offensive glass Indiana has been outdone by its foes 140-108 on the season, including 41-22 in conference games. Indiana ranks last by a wide margin in league games with its -10.0 rebounding margin.
While "scary" might be an exaggeration, it's a point of frustration for Davis and the coaching staff.
"We talk about it all the time, we work on it," said Davis. "I don't understand it. For us to be a good basketball team, we have to be better in that area."
Exacerbating the Hoosiers' rebounding problems is the loss of D.J. White for a second time with a broken left foot. Despite averaging only 17.8 minutes in the five games he played in, the 6-9, 242-pound sophomore still pulled down 6.0 rebounds per contest.
With White gone, Indiana will have to determine of it can afford to a go with a lineup that is, for all intents and purposes, a four-guard setup with 6-5 wing Robert Vaden playing at the power forward position. While Vaden has proven to be a huge match-up problems for foes that try to defend him with a bigger player, there's little question the smaller rotation has contributed to some degree to IU's rebounding woes.
Davis said Friday that he is considering starting the biggest player on IU's roster, 6'11" freshman Ben Allen, against Illinois in Tuesday's nationally-televised matchup. It's a move that is presumably a response to the Hoosiers struggles on the glass as well as the fact Illinois will likely start a trio of big men on the front line in 6'10" James Augustine, 6'10" Shaun Pruitt and 6'8" Brian Randle.
While size is a factor, Davis says it's not the most important thing when it comes to remedying IU's rebounding woes.
"Rebounding is desire," said Davis.
News and Notes:
- Lewis Monroe was shooting on the side in practice Friday, although he didn't participate in the regular drills. His status remains day-to-day, although it appears likely he'll be ready by the time Tuesday's matchup rolls around.
- one player who continues to impress the coaching staff is junior Rod Wilmont, who is averaging 7.8 points per game off the bench. In Big Ten games Wilmont is averaging 10.0 points and 24.3 minutes per contest.
"He's cut back on his shot selection, shooting bad shots," said Davis. "He's rebounded the ball better, and defensively he's giving us effort and energy. I thought he gave more energy in the (Michigan State) game than anyone on Wednesday night, he just got in foul trouble."
To Rebound, IU Must Rebound
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