Dayton senior forward Josh Benson always stays locked into what coach Archie Miller has to say during a game. But when he feels the need for a little more input, he peers into the stands for direction.
The Dunbar High School product often seeks out his father Willie, who was once an accomplished player himself. And Benson can sense the message being conveyed even without words being spoken.
“Since I was playing basketball as a little kid, there are certain signs I recognize,” Benson said. “With him playing basketball and knowing the game, he knows certain things that can help me. Throughout my career, I’ve peeked at him to see if he has his two cents.
“He always tells me to run. Or I can read his lips when he tells me I’m not rebounding or if I’m not doing something. Most of the time, it’s the same things Archie is telling me.”
What the 6-foot-9 co-captain has been hearing from all fronts is to pick up the pace on the boards. He’s averaging only 4.8 per game, which is third on the team and slightly less than the 5.2 he pulled down last year before undergoing season-ending knee surgery in early January.
Although he’s made a strong recovery from a torn ACL, he believes his leaping ability isn’t all the way back yet.
He’s averaging 11.0 points, slightly more than last season, but he’s not satisfied with his paltry rebound total.
“I’m really hard on myself — not just rebounding, but any aspect of the game,” he said. “But it’s a learning curve. You’re not going to get every rebound or every point. You just have to make sure you’re giving your all for the team.”
He added: “Rebounding is always important in games. You could probably say 80-90 percent of the time, the team that wins on the glass wins the game. (Almost) all the games we lost, we lost in rebounding. That’s a pretty good stat to go by.”
The Flyers (9-4) have been out-rebounded four times this year and are 1-3 in those games. They also were defeated by Colorado despite winning the board battle by two.
In a 63-61 overtime loss at Southern Cal on Sunday, Benson grabbed just two rebounds in 32 minutes and has a mere 11 in his last four games.
“I think Josh is underachieving on the glass right now,” Miller said. “That’s something we talk a lot about with him. Him mixing it up, him being more physical — he’s had games where he’s had a double-double, and he’s had games where he plays 37 minutes and gets two rebounds.
“The role he plays for us and with the size and talent he has, I think he’s a much more capable rebounder. As he embraces that challenge, we’ll get better.”
UAB (8-6) at Dayton (9-4), 7 p.m., Ch. 7, 95.7, 1290