Rebounding may be key for newcomers

In last week's game againsts Northern State Shagari Alleyne and Lukasz Obrzut combined for 24 minutes but only managed to gather in four rebounds. No that isn't four rebounds each, but four rebounds combined. Freshman center Jared Carter, who has been mentioned as a redshirt candidate managed to snare seven rebounds in only eleven minutes on the floor. Rekalin Sims proved to be an active body on the glass, and defensively. Two traits sure to endear him to his coach.

One of the deep dark secrets that was revealed in the exhibition game against Northern State was who was going to be the two front line starters to go along with the three guards, Rajon Rondo, Patrick Sparks, and Joe Crawford. Tubby Smith sent out Lukasz Obrzut and Sheray Thomas as the other two starters.

Sure, the Wildcats were playing a Division ll school from a state (North Dakota) better known for it's Snow Owls than it's basketball players. However coach Don Meyers had a squad well coached enough to give coach Smith's squad a good enough look to see where his team needs improvement.

It was obvious that when Rondo is on the floor, he can do most anything he wants to do and when Sparks is hot, he's hot. The Cats 60 percent shooting in the second half proved that when they push the ball up the court the shooting and scoring increases.

Coach Smith voiced some concerns with his team. The theme of the night seemed to be rebounding and aggression. "With a height advantage we should have done better," Smith lamented. "We weren't aggressive enough."

Given that Obrzut and Shagari Alleyne logging 12 minutes each and collectively gathering in 4 rebounds, that was one of the concerns the coach expressed. Like it or not, much to Smith's chagrin, he may have to consider more playing time for newcomer 7-foot-2 freshman Jared Carter. Carter's numbers were much more impressive. He logged 11 minutes and pulled down 7 rebounds. Smith's track record indicates that he would much rather put experience on the where ever possible and is a little squeamish with playing freshmen unless they are star caliber.

When asked does Carter do this all the time in practice? Sheray Thomas jokingly said: "Sometimes! I'm not surprised because I know what he's capable of."

"Carter knows how to play around the basket," coach Smith said. This writer observed Carter in the Adidas Derby Festival Basketball Classic back in April and observed his ability to use the glass, something that's a lost art. This ability should yield huge dividends in the future for the Cats.

Another newcomer to the Cats Rekalin Sims a 6-foot-8 power forward exhibited that he is strong in fundamental basketball. He takes the ball the basket well on offense but more than that he appears that his value to this team will be in a much-needed area. He has a nose for the ball coming off the boards and he doesn't mind taking charges.

"Sims is very active," Smith said. "He took two charges and we didn't have that all last year." Sims showed a busted lip and said, "it's tough out there and my own teammate Obrzut got me. I don't think he did it on purpose although he's known for it.

"I felt pretty good. I got a chance to get out there and do what I'm good at and that's taking charges and rebounding. You've got to know how to do it – it's a little flopping involved but not too much flopping. I've got it down!"

You can bet that in the coming days the aggression and rebounding theme will get a lot of attention. To reach the level of a final four team, that is a big key for this team.

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