We all know Michigan isn’t the biggest team. I think everyone can see that by watching a game or two – even watching layup lines. But that’s not always a great excuse when it comes to rebounding the ball on the defensive end of the floor. Especially now seeing that the Wolverines are a game out of first place in the Big Ten standings, with the Buckeyes coming to town on Saturday. In Columbus, Ohio State dominated both the paint and the offensive glass. Of all people, Lenzelle Smith, had eight of the 14 offensive rebounds that Michigan gave up, leading to 16 second chance points. At Michigan State it was the same story. So if Michigan wants to take a crack at the Big Ten regular season championship, it must do a better job rebounding the ball and protecting the paint. Let’s look at three defensive rebounding situations in the Ohio State game, focusing on the following:
- Defensive Rotations
- Locating a Body
- Be the HAMMER
Defensive Rebounding: Transition Defense
Turnovers kill you. They put so much pressure on your team to get back quickly, identify a man, and stop an easy basket from happening. Michigan actually does a superb job here of getting back, stopping the ball and matching up.
Trey Burke guarding Buford is not ideal, however, that’s what happens when you turn the ball over. You can’t always pick and choose who you guard. So Novak does an excellent job identifying the mismatch and slides over to help. Tim Hardaway Jr. then takes a quick peek through his peripheral and sees no one coming. But he’s got to actually turn his head and look. He never sees Smith in the corner making a dash to the basket and that’s a recipe for an offensive put back.
Watch Smith (32) run unopposed directly to the rim.
As the shot goes up you can see that no one is there to contest and he’ll have the easy put-back…
Turning the ball over puts your defense in a tough situation. But, when it happens, you have to get back, see the entire floor, and make the proper rotations to prevent rim runners from getting easy put backs.
Defensive Rebounding: Double Teams
He’s big. Anyone can see that… So Michigan pretty much has to double him in the post. Just like turning the ball over, double teaming can also put your defense in a tough spot. The entire team must be alert, see the ball, and make rotations. Michigan is in perfect position here and everyone knows it’s going to become a double team.
Smith cuts through the lane and Novak doesn’t follow him. Just like he’s instructed. He sits in the lane and is ready to double when Sullinger turns back to the baseline. Jordan Morgan is playing up on Sullinger’s left shoulder to force him into the double team.
Stu Douglass has to see this a tad bit earlier. Everyone knows it’s a double team. His job here is to help the helper and cover Zack Novak’s man. But in doing this, he must make a hit. Be the hammer. Not the nail! (That’s exactly how the coaches yell it) He has to basically hip check Smith, get into his legs, and drive him out of the lane and away from a potential rebound. Stu fights, however, he doesn’t get a good enough hit on Smith. Smith uses his jumping ability to corral the rebound and put it back in.
Now watch as Douglass makes the hit…
But it’s not genough and Lenzell Smith still manages to grab the offensive rebound.
Defensive Rebounding: Zone Defense
So we’ve looked at how turnovers and double teaming can put a lot of pressure on your team when trying to effectively rebound the ball. Well…playing a zone is no different because you don’t have a specific man. Here, Smith attacks the middle and makes Jordan Morgan step up before he launches a pass to Buford in the corner. This creates a scramble.
Shot Goes Up
When you’re in a zone, it’s extremely important that you find a man when the shot goes up. Jordan Morgan sees that Trey Burke is matched up with Sullinger and does the right thing. He helps.
Locate a Body
This isn’t easy by any means. Especially when you play 30-35 minutes a game. It takes extreme focus and a lot of effort. But Tim Hardaway Jr. has to recognize that Jordan Morgan helped and Smith is not boxed out. No hit, leads to no rebound. No rebound, leads to no stop. No stop, leads to two points.
If Michigan wants to beat Ohio State this weekend, it simply cannot afford to give up 16 second chance points. Period. These are three scenarios where a little bit better execution could make a significant difference despite Michigan’s size and athletic disadvantages against Ohio State.
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