On Saturday, Tom Izzo takes his Michigan State Spartans to College Park to take on the Maryland Terrapins in what should prove to be a great showdown in the BIG. As you take a quick glance at this matchup on paper, you quickly realize that it will be a grind-it-out kind of game as both teams are only allowing 61 points per contest. That in mind. to me, the one statistic that is usually overlooked with good defensive teams is rebounding. This matchup on Saturday brings in the #1 team in the conference with rebounding margin in Michigan State at +8 per game, and Maryland is not too far behind with +4 which is good for 4th in the conference. And, if you look at conference games alone, the rebounding margin for Maryland is 3rd in the conference with Michigan State trailing at 4th.
So, why is rebounding so important? How does it make your defense great? The old coaching adage is defense is not done until the rebound is had. You can be the greatest defensive team but if you cannot rebound on the defensive glass it truly does not matter. Michigan State is getting 27 defensive boards per game and Maryland is getting 28 defensive boards per game. On Saturday it will be a great game to watch from a coach's point of view to see both teams do a great job on the defensive boards.
On the other side, offensive boards can make a break a team especially in the BIG Conference. When games are close, rebounding and free throws are crucial. If you tend to get out rebounded or if you are a poor free throw shooting team, you're going to struggle to scratch out wins. Working hard on the offensive glass to get extra chances can be the difference in a close ball game. Michigan State, which is always a leader on the offensive boards, is getting 11 offensive boards per game and Maryland is getting 9 offensive boards per game. It is interesting to note that Michigan State has 29 more offensive rebounds than their opponents this year. Maryland's opponents actually have more offensive rebounds so far during this season. 2nd chance will be very important during this game. I am going to give Michigan State the advantage during this game because of their ability to offensive rebound.
The question you might be asking is why is Michigan State so great at rebounding? One I would point out that Izzo really focuses on rebounding. It is something that is focused on during practice. His practices are physical and he demands they rebound in each and every drill not just rebounding drills. The other item that is interesting about Coach Izzo and rebounding is that he teaches it very differently than most coaches. Most coaches have the "butt in the gut" philosophy. I am sure you have heard this before. I know my coaches preached this to me growing up. So, when the shot goes up the defensive players finds his player with his forearm and reverse pivots and pushes the player back with his butt. What Izzo teaches is to hit and go get the ball. So, he wants his players to make contact with the offense but there is no reverse pivoting and pushing back. Once that contact is made the defensive player goes and gets the ball. As a coach I have always been intrigued with how Coach Izzo coaches rebounding. It has been very rewarding for him as Michigan State is always one of the top rebounding clubs in the conference.