If a team’s missing that size, common sense says it won’t be able to rebound ?effectively.
IU’s been able to turn that around with a rebounding-by-committee approach. Rather than relying on one or two big men to position themselves under the basket and corral missed shots, the Hoosiers have used all five players on the floor.
Despite ranking 205th nationally in average height, IU has outrebounded opponents by four boards per game this season.
Junior guard Yogi Ferrell said it’s a matter of the Hoosiers’ guards getting underneath the basket when shots go up. When opponents focus on keeping IU’s bigger players off the glass, it frees up room for its guards to snatch rebounds.
“All of us are going to be in there,” Ferrell said. “It’s really a matter of guards going to get the ball, because we know that (the forwards) are going to be busy with the big guys.”
Much of the Hoosiers’ success on the glass has come on the offensive end. Long shots create long rebounds, and IU relies heavily on the 3-point shot. When those jump shots miss, the ball often ends up further away from the rim than usual, creating more opportunities for guard rebounding.
“When you’re taking 3s, there’s no question it’s the bounce a little bit,” Crean said.
IU’s gang-rebounding approach has garnered more than 11 offensive rebounds per game this season, but has cost the Hoosiers in transition. When all five players crash the offensive glass, it allows opponents to leak out into transition and score easy baskets.
Crean has had to work to find a balance between selling out for offensive rebounds and getting back in transition.
“We don’t send as many to the glass as we used to, because we need to make sure our transition defense is really strong,” he said. “And if they don’t go, we’ve got to get it understood why, we’ve got to correct it or we’ve got to make changes in the game.”
IU appears to have built a workaround path to rebounds for its undersized roster. It’s certainly had practice — the Hoosiers haven’t faced a team with a smaller average height since Jan. 5.
Thursday night, they’ll try to make that approach work against a pair of 7-footers. They have before — IU pulled in 34 rebounds to Purdue’s 31 in a loss last month.
The Boilermakers’ two centers — 7-foot junior A.J. Hammons and 7-foot-2 freshman Isaac Haas — combined for just three rebounds in that game.
Crean said rebounding can be planned to an extent, and then it comes down to three factors: determination, concentration and focus. IU will need that effort to avoid another lopsided loss to ?Purdue, he said.
“We’re going to need every bit of those skills, energy, toughness, all of that to beat Purdue,” Crean said. “We’re looking forward to it.”