The numbers listed on the stat sheet are, at first glance, a bit jarring. Next to the tough, self-described wild, toothpick wielding Dustin Hogue’s name is a number that requires a double take.
This is last season’s Big 12 rebounding runner-up, a guy that averaged 8.4 rebounds per game in a difficult conference in 36 starts. This is a guy that hasn’t been known for scoring (he did average 11.6 points per game), but rather the rough and physical nature of his rebounding.
Yet the number that sits next to his name through a small sample size of five games is 2.7 rebounds per game.
“I’ve got to have a conversation with the stat guy,” Hogue said with a laugh, proving the odd spell hasn’t quite gotten him down. “I don’t know, this rebound struggle is still going for me.”
The struggle reached its pinnacle last week when Hogue grabbed zero rebounds in Iowa State’s 18-point win against Arkansas. Three other teammates grabbed six rebounds in that win and point guard Monte Morris had four.
That, though, might just be the point. The rebounds have been few and far between for Hogue through a handful of non-conference games, but it might, after all, just be a numbers game.
"When you go back and watch film, Dustin is one of the guys that is consistently blocking out,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He gets locked up with a big guy and a lot of times ends up out of bounds with him in a wrestling match and somebody else comes in and gets the rebound.”
So the rebounding numbers are low, but maybe there’s another way to quantify what Hogue has meant to a rebounding average uptick for others.
“My teammates tell me I’m doing my job,” Hogue said. “They tell me jokingly I’m leading the country in block-outs. I’ll take that and roll with it for now, but I’m going to get back to the way I was playing.”
In essence, Hogue is assisting. Or something like that.
“If that was a stat I’d gladly take pride in that,” Hogue said with a smile. “Rebounding assists in the country. I think I lead the country.”
Hogue would rather lead the team in rebounding, though, so back to the point. He says his form will turn back to old form and his coach agrees.
The answer, then, might rest in Hogue’s matchup on the court. Last season, the smaller 6-foot-6 forward played at the three spot on the floor against smaller players. With Melvin Ejim now out of the equation and Jameel McKay not eligible to play until Dec. 20 following his transfer, Hogue has shifted up to the four-spot.
In all likelihood, he’ll see most of his time at the three position beginning next week.
“You can’t look too deep into Dustin’s numbers,” Hoiberg said. “But when he gets back to playing more three — which will happen when Jameel gets eligible — hopefully we’ll have a chance to be a very good rebounding team.”
For now, he’s getting noticed in a new way.
“I think he’s doing a good job of keeping his guy off the glass, so credit to him,” teammate Georges Niang said. “If his rebounding numbers are down, that stinks, but I think it’s all right when we win games.”