Rebounding Woes

There are many factors that enter into determining success for a college basketball team. One of the keys is, without a doubt, rebounding. Limit your opponent to one shot and get the ball back for your team.

It’s a basic of basketball. Give your opponent too many second and third chance opportunities at scoring and eventually the ball is going to end up in the basket. Along with that, your team needs the ball to score. Most teams that are good rebounding teams have at least one player who is a stud on the boards.

Over the past few years, Providence has been a very effective rebounding team. One of the primary reasons for that has been the presence of senior forward LaDontae Henton. Henton came to Providence with a reputation of getting after the ball. In high school, in Lansing, Michigan, Henton scored 2,000 points and pulled down 1,210 rebounds, huge numbers for a high school career. The 6’6 forward developed a reputation of being a junkyard dog, playing bigger than his size and scoring inside and cleaning the glass in a very basketball-competitive area.

During his first three seasons at Providence, Henton was, without question, the stud on the glass. He was often a double-double machine, scoring at will while hitting both the offensive and defensive boards with equal success. While his numbers did decline slightly during his junior year, that was due, in part, to the emergence of senior Kadeem Batts as an effective boardman. But nothing prepared Friar fans for the dramatic decline in Henton’s numbers so far this season.

One way to measure Henton’s effectiveness is his all-around game. With his scoring and rebounding abilities, Henton was always a threat for a double-double, or at least, a near double-double. Take a look at his year-by-year totals:

Henton double-doubles, along with season rebounding average -
Freshman: 9 (8.6 rpg)
Sophomore: 11 (8.3 rpg)
Junior: 6 (7.9 rpg)
Senior through 11 games: 2 (5.3 rpg)

As the team’s leading rebounder during each of his first three seasons, Henton established himself as one of the top rebounders in the Big East, often outrebounding opponents four to five inches taller. This season, Henton sits second on the squad in a tightly bunched group, with numbers that are 2.5 to 3.5 lower per game.

Friar rebounding leaders:
Tyler Harris – 5.4 rpg
LaDontae Henton – 5.3 rpg
Kris Dunn – 5.2 rpg
Carson Desrosiers – 4.7 rpg

It could be argued that the balance in PC’s rebounding is contributing to Henton’s lower numbers, but that balance has been in evidence in prior seasons, as well. Last year, for example, Henton averaged 7.9 rpg, while Batts checked in at 7.4 rpg, Tyler Harris was at 5.1 and Carson Desrosiers contributed 4.8. In actuality, Harris and Desrosiers are at their norm.

Another way to look at it is percentage of rebounds recorded. That statistic measures an individual player’s contribution towards the team’s total.

YEAR

TEAM
REBOUNDS

HENTON'S PERCENTAGE
2011-12 1181 23.2%
2012-13 1289 21.8%
2013-14 1278 21.6%
2014-15 384 15.1%


Even here, Henton’s percentage of team rebounds has taken a dramatic dip so far this season. Other players aren’t taking boards away, at least not any more so than in other years; rather, Henton simply hasn’t been as effective on the glass.

Like points per minute, rebounds per minute helps to determine how effective and productive a player is being with his time on the court. Over his career, LaDontae has been a very productive player, entering the 2014-15 season with 832 career rebounds, already good for 9th on the all-time Providence list. Coming into the season, it seemed a slam-dunk surety that Henton would become the 7th Friar to top 1,000 career rebounds, having never pulled down less than 274 in a season. However, at his current pace, by the end of the regular season, Henton will grab just 164 rebounds, leaving him four shy of 1,000, a number he would presumably reach in the postseason.

Henton’s rebounds per minute:
Freshman – 0.23
Sophomore – 0.24
Junior – 0.21
Senior through 11 games – 0.16

LaDontae Henton is as gritty and tough as any who have ever donned the black and white and this analysis is not meant as a criticism, just a statistical proving of a perceived drop in his rebounding effectiveness. But, to be clear, the fault is not all Henton’s. This is a team issue.

Since Ed Cooley arrived, Providence has had a toughness on the boards that is epitomized by Henton. Providence has consistently outrebounded its opponents, but the team’s total number of rebounds per game and margin has dipped this year.

REBOUNDING MARGIN
2011-12 PC 36.9 +0.9
  OPP 36.0  
2012-13 PC 37.9 +3.2
  OPP 34.7  
2013-14 PC 36.5 +3.3
  OPP 33.2  
2014-15 PC 34.9 +2.4
  OPP 32.5  


Providence has simply had a difficult time this season keeping teams off the glass, and especially in limiting second chances. Some of it has to do with the changing defenses that PC has employed, but Cooley has always switched between zone and man-to-man. The theory is that players sometimes lose their man and don’t block out as well in zone, but that didn’t prove to be true against Stony Brook.

This was an interesting game to track, as PC played all zone in the first half, and 99 percent man-to-man in the second half. The numbers are interesting. For the game, PC was outrebounded by the smaller Seawolves, 46-45, and 21-14 on the offensive boards. In the first half, while playing zone, PC was outrebounded 26-24 and 12-10 on offensive rebounds. In the second half, while playing man-to-man, PC outrebounded Stony Brook, 21-20, however, the Friars were still outrebounded on offensive rebounds, by a 9-4 margin.

Rebounding is all about effort. Sometimes, you can play hard, box out well, put yourself in the best position to get the ball, but the ball just bounces the wrong way. But if you do that enough, you’ll get your fair share of rebounds. One of the keys to how far Providence advances this season will be their ability to fix whatever is wrong with their rebounding. And look for senior LaDontae Henton to rise to the challenge and lead that effort.

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