COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team allowed 17 offensive rebounds in an 84-80 overtime loss to visiting Purdue on Friday night.
The scary part about that total is there are teams in the Big Ten who are better than the Boilermakers at crashing the offensive glass.
One of them is Maryland (14-3, 5-1 Big Ten), which hosts the Badgers (11-5, 3-2) on Monday night at the XFINITY Center.
Maryland leads all Big Ten teams and is 11th nationally in offensive rebounding percentage (37.5). That charge is led by a pair of athletic, rangy 6-foot-10 forwards – sophomore Bruno Fernando and freshman Jalen Smith – who have combined for 99 offensive rebounds through 17 games.
“You’ve got to be ready for a physical battle,” UW assistant coach Dean Oliver said. “And then when they have such great athletes, which they do, your job is even harder. Because sometimes you even do your job boxing out and they still get it.
“We had to get better at it anyways, but now this is really going to test our abilities of blocking out and just playing solid.”
UW ranks fourth in the Big Ten with a defensive rebounding percentage of 74.6. But against Purdue, that figure was a paltry 58.5 percent.
What needs to change when the Badgers play the Terrapins?
“Just a lot more toughens than what we showed against Purdue,” UW senior center Ethan Happ said. “We went over it in the film and learned from it, and we’ve had a lot of games where we’ve been really good rebounding the ball. We’ve just got to go back to the fundamentals.”
UW committed 17 turnovers vs. Purdue, and that bothered the coaching staff a great deal. But assistant coach Howard Moore said he was more angry about the rebounding issues.
“We got checked a little bit,” Moore said. “We got chin-checked. Either you’re going to wilt or you’re going to step up and show a little resistance, and I know we’ve got guys who will show more resistance.”
Purdue only converted its extra opportunities into 12 second-chance points, which was actually three fewer than UW had in that category despite the fact the Badgers grabbed nine fewer offensive rebounds.
But the extra chances UW was giving up led to longer possessions on defense and, thus, more fatigue.
“When you want to be a great defensive team, that’s the end result of the defense,” Moore said. “And if you can’t finish the possession with a defensive rebound, you’re putting so much pressure on not just your defense, but on fouls and on other things. It’s a demoralizing situation when you guard for 28, 29 seconds and you can’t come up with the rebound.”
Happ did his part, finishing with 13 rebounds and 10 of UW’s 24 defensive rebounds.
But nobody else on the team had more than five rebounds. Sophomore forward Nate Reuvers had two in 17-plus minutes, sophomore forward Aleem Ford had two in 19-plus minutes and junior guard Brevin Pritzl didn’t collect a single rebound in nearly 24 minutes of action.
“We’ve got a (great) rebounder,” Moore said of Happ, the program’s all-time leader with 1,043 in his career, “but it’s got to be more than him. It’s got to be everybody.”