Effort and rebounding generally go hand in hand.
Lately, the Gonzaga Bulldogs haven’t been getting their hands on as many rebounds as they did earlier this season. Now, it’s hardly a crisis. GU entered last week 20th nationally in rebounding margin at plus-7.5 per game, but San Diego, the 214th best rebounding team statistically, won the boards 38-32 on Saturday night, including 25-14 in the second half.
USD grabbed 14 offensive rebounds in the final 15 minutes, leading to 13 of its last 20 points.
“We kind of let our guard down and relaxed sometimes and slipped a bit on the glass,” junior forward Kelly Olynyk said. “In our conference there are a lot of guards that rebound really well so I think that’s something that hurts us a little bit, but also our bigs need to shore up a bunch of that stuff.”
Washington State was the only team to outrebound Gonzaga (32-31) before the Zags opened WCC play in early January. Five of GU’s last nine opponents have won the boards, including four of eight conference foes. Some have been close (Santa Clara and Butler were plus-2). Pepperdine and San Diego were plus-6. Saint Mary’s had a 39-27 rebounding edge.
The Toreros simply outworked Gonzaga at times and were rewarded with a 14-11 edge in second-chance points, 13-4 in the final 20 minutes. Guards Chris Anderson and Johnny Dee combined for 14 rebounds. Four of Dee’s were offensive boards.
“If you’re going to get outworked, it shows up there every time,” coach Mark Few said. “That’s all rebounding is about. It’s not about size or athleticism, but if you can get size and athleticism that plays really hard and pursues every rebound like it’s your last chance to get one, then you have a heck of a rebounding team.”
Few reiterated that this isn’t the most talented team he’s had in 14 seasons as head coach.
“We’ve shown within the league that we have to be ready to go,” he said. “If we’re not a team that plays harder and more attentive and executes defensively and offensively at the highest level then we’re not talented enough or so athletically dominant that we can survive for very long.”