I can hear it now: Arizona is coached by four former point guards, what do they know about rebounding?
UA coach Sean Miller was dependable at Pitt with an efficient assist-to-turnover ratio, something sophomore Lamont “MoMo” Jones needs to work on, but how does rebounding fit in his forte?
The same question goes for his brother Archie Miller, and assistants Book Richardson and James Whitford, all of whom played away from the basket in college.
An answer: Does it matter what size you are to know what it takes to be a good rebounder? The best players who attacked the glass at Arizona that I’ve seen in my lifetime is a tossup between Al Fleming and Pete Williams. Fleming was listed at 6-foot-8 and Williams 6-7. They really had no business being elite rebounders.
Fleming played alongside 6-10 center Bob Elliott, yet he pulled down 1,190 rebounds in his four-year career (1973-76). It remains the school’s career record. Williams was an undersized center in Lute Olson‘s first two years at Arizona. He averaged the most rebounds in a season — 9.9 in 1983-84 — until Jordan Hill posted 11 a game in 2008-09.
Being a good rebounder comes from positioning, working hard to block out, timing your leaps and most of all — effort. I asked Sean Miller during Tuesday’s Pac-10 teleconference about how his coaching can remedy the UA’s rebounding woes Sunday in a 76-75 loss at Oregon State.
“It’s certainly my responsibility, and our staff’s responsibility, to make sure guys are blocking out,” Miller said.
Any time the starting post player (Derrick Williams) and power forward (Jesse Perry) combine for only four rebounds — like they did against the Beavers — not only does the ball seem out of reach, but so does a victory.
Miller said that rebounding is “one of the several hot buttons of our team,” even though the Wildcats are No. 1 in the Pac-10 in rebounding margin (plus-6) over their opponents. That stat is more of a result of who the Wildcats played in the non-conference portion of the schedule.
Only a few of Arizona’s previous opponents were as aggressive as Oregon State on the boards. The Beavers outrebounded Arizona 34-31. The game brought back memories of how NAU nearly upset Arizona in McKale Center by dominating the glass, 29-19.