At the end of Wednesday’s practice, Dayton coach Archie Miller grabbed a stat sheet kept by his staff and rattled off the rebounding totals for some of his players during the course of the two-hour session.
While the team did its post-workout stretch, Miller heaped praise on freshman forward Jalen Robinson, who hit double figures for the day. And he wasn’t the only one who earned some compliments.
The Flyers (9-4) have hit a mini-slump mostly because they’re not exerting their usual dominance on the boards. Junior wing Devin Oliver leads the Atlantic 10 in rebounding with an 8.8 average, but his teammates haven’t displayed that same enthusiasm for mixing it up inside.
Having done enough stomping and yelling to challenge his players, Miller apparently figured a little positive reinforcement couldn’t hurt.
“We’re not rebounding the ball worth a damn,” Miller said Thursday. “It’s been something we’ve done well and something we take a lot of pride in, but we haven’t been getting enough defensive rebounds, and the biggest thing for us is offensive rebounding.
“If you look at our team, there are some things we have to do well to be successful, and that’s a huge component. We talk about it, but at the same time, we’ve got to get some guys committed to do it. Wanting to get the ball is something Devin Oliver takes great pride in doing. I don’t think everybody does that.”
The Flyers have been out-rebounded slightly in their last three games, including losses to Southern Cal and Illinois State. In their four defeats, they have a minus-2 rebounding margin per game. In their nine victories, they have a plus-7.1 edge.
Of course, they bludgeoned some inferior teams in victories, which can skew the totals. But Miller believes rebounding margin is a telling stat.
“It’s all relative to who we’re playing, but when we rebound effectively on both ends of the floor, we’re a different team,” he said. “That sets the tone for how physical we are. A lot of it is you’re playing against teams that take great pride in keeping us off the glass as well. But we have to ratchet it up. In practice, we’ve taken a few steps forward, getting that mindset back again.”
UAB (8-6) at Dayton (9-4), 7 p.m., Ch. 7, 95.7, 1290