Bangin' the boards

There's one positive to missing a lot of shots; you get a lot of offensive rebound opportunities.

That helps explain why the Tennessee Vols lead the Southeastern Conference with 14.15 offensive rebounds per game. They are erratic when it comes to getting the ball in the basket but consistent when it comes to getting it off the backboard. Head coach Bruce Pearl says there are several more reasons the Vols lead the league in offensive rebounds.

"It's a combination of your personnel, good size at the 3, 4 and 5 (positions), and inside shots lead to inside rebounds," the coach said. "If we can get inside, we have a chance to rebound inside."

Another reason Tennessee does a good job on the offensive backboard is that Pearl builds it into his scheme.

"Dr. Tom Davis was my mentor, and he talked a great deal about offensive spacing and backside rebounding," Pearl recalled. "In a lot of the things we do as far as play calls we have offensive rebounding responsibilities, just like you might have defensive rebounding responsibilities. It's a combination of all that."

Rebounding also involves an element of anticipation, whether it's off the offensive or defensive glass. Thus, knowing the shooting tendencies of your teammates is helpful.

As Pearl put it: "The last thing would be having a good understanding of when one of your teammates is going to shoot it, then have the feeling, 'I'm going to take my teammate off the hook here ... because if you don't make this shot, don't worry about it. I'm going to go get it for you.'"

Offensive rebounding has won a lot of games for Tennessee this season but the Vols' earlier game with Florida wasn't one of them. The Big Orange beat the Gators 79-63 on Jan. 31 but pulled down a mere 7 offensive rebounds – half their season average – in the process.

Tennessee and Florida collide in the rematch Sunday at 2 in the O'Connell Center at Gainesville. The Vols (17-10 overall) and Gators (21-7 overall) are tied with Kentucky for second place in the SEC East with 8-5 league records, one game behind 9-4 South Carolina.

CBS will televise.


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