If you’ve read any of our football articles recently you may have heard about Georgia Tech’s struggles on the O-line. Going into Basketball season I want to highlight one of Georgia Tech’s other struggling spots, rebounds. Like the O-line problem, rebounding is something you don’t really notice if everything is going well. If your team is consistently getting the ball back when it falls its just something you expect. But when your team struggles with rebounding, and the opponent gets 2 or 3 tries to score, it infuriates you every time you think about it.
Rebounding is something Tech Basketball has struggled with in recent years. according to Sports-Reference.com Georgia Tech ranked 335th in total rebounds last year. It says something that I was more surprised to find out there were 335 teams in college basketball than to find out we were that bad at rebounding. Oh wait... there’s 347 total teams in college basketball, and we are 335th in rebounding. No wonder it continues to drive me crazy.
Luckily, it looks like things might start turning around this year.
A New Hope(s)
During Pastner’s tenure Georgia Tech has usually found its rebounds through one player on the court. There was some help from other players on the floor but the highlight players for rebounds were generally Ben Lammers in 2016 - 2017, James Banks in 2018 - 2019, and Moses Wright last year.
This sounds like a good thing on the surface. After all, you want more rebounds so the more rebounds one person gets the better. But having one person focus on getting all your rebounds also takes away expectations for the rest of the team and puts pressure on the single player to get the ball every time. It also lets your opponent focus on one player to box out on shots and try to prevent them from getting the ball. This brings in the “opinion” part of my opinion article.
With Moses Wright gone logic stipulates that we will need to turn to another athlete to focus on getting rebounds. After all Pastner has talked about how important rebounds were to our victories in the ACC tournament championship. Well I think this year the plan should be to split the rebounds among multiple players. Its not as exciting, since you don’t see things like double doubles on the score sheet, but if every starter is getting 6 rebounds a game you have 30 rebounds right there, which is around what we averaged last year. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but we have the talent in the front court to get there. So lets talk about who is helping get these numbers.
A lot of pressure was on Jordan Usher to be the guy who stepped in as the top rebounder. Usher is the senior player left in the Forward position where most of the post rebounds take place. Usher’s stats from last year don’t necessarily reflect his presence on the boards. Usher was overshadowed by ACC player of the year Moses Wright, but Usher has his own style. Usher will be leading the team with rebounds with his physicality, but his supporting cast will be there to help him out.
The one you can’t miss is Saba Gigiberia. At 7’1”, you literally can’t miss Saba when he is on the floor. Saba has the size, but can be slightly tentative when going for rebounds. Hopefully he can learn from Usher to know when to be aggressive in going up for the ball.
The other two forwards to watch out for on the boards will be Sophomore Jordan Meka and Freshman Jalon Moore. Both players have the size and have shown a tenacity when boxing out big opponents and chasing down the ball. They both need to garner some more experience, but Meka and Moore both have the raw talent to become star defensive players in the future.
While guards are not as well known for making rebounds, that doesn’t mean they can’t be good at it. Last year Michael Devoe proved this by being the second best at total rebounds on the team, just barely edging out Jordan Usher. Devoe is speedy and never quits when he goes after the ball. Despite being smaller than the forwards on the team Devoe also puts serious effort into boxing out opponents. Watch for Devoe to chase down some long rebounds, especially on the offensive glass, this year.
What we’ve seen so far
Luckily we don’t have to be purely speculative. In the exhibition game last weekend against Morehouse we saw some good play out of the Jackets. Usher and Saba led the way with 6 rebounds each. Jordan Meka and Jalon Moore both finished with 5 rebounds, although Meka found a way to squeeze all 5 of his rebounds from only 9 minutes of play which was quite impressive.
This was just an exhibition, but it was also against Morehouse.. so we would like to see better numbers overall. we did get 36 total rebounds which is well above last year’s season average of 30.3 total rebounds last year. There is room for optimism going forward. We do need to see better boxing out and combinations of using forwards in the future. I choose to believe this will be the starting point of better rebounding efforts by the Jackets moving forward. Given the stats from last year we can only get better. Either way, I’m ready for the Basketball season to get started! Let’s go Jackets, swarm the boards!!!