When teams rebound the basketball at a higher rate than their opponents, they can generate boards into scoring opportunities and have a better chance of winning games.
Just ask the Massachusetts men’s basketball team.
The Minutemen (10-15, 3-7 Atlantic 10) are first in the A-10 in offensive rebounding with 15.4 per game, and lead the conference in overall rebounding with 41.4 per game.
UMass is sixth in the NCAA in offensive rebounds per game and in total offensive rebounds (386), and are in the top 40 in rebounding margin (5.0), and are third in the conference in that statistic. While outrebounding 17 of their 24 opponents so far this season, the Minutemen have recently turned that statistic into two key victories against Duquesne and Saint Joseph’s, and hope to do the same against George Washington tonight.
The Colonials are seventh in the A-10 in rebounding offense and fifth in rebounding defense, and are third in the conference averaging 13.7 rebounds per game.
In the victory against the Hawks, UMass again outrebounded its opponent, 44-35, with Carter adding 11 while Anthony Gurley had nine, as the Minutemen had 16 points in the paint and six second-chance points.
Against the Dukes, UMass outrebounded Duquesne, 60-33, as redshirt sophomore Sean Carter had his first career double-double with 11 points and a career-high 19 rebounds in the victory. This led to 26 points in the paint and 20 second-chance points.
The last time the Minutemen had 60 rebounds in a game was during the 1996 Final Four season against the Hawks, as Marcus Camby had 15 in UMass’ overtime win on Feb. 28.
Three members of the Minutemen are averaging more than four rebounds per game, including Carter (7.1), freshman forward Terrell Vinson (5.5) and redshirt junior center Hashim Bailey (4.9). Carter is now 11th in the A-10 with 178 total rebounds so far this season, and is fourth in offensive rebounding (3.6).
Harris on fire
In his last three games, senior guard Ricky Harris has had his most impressive stretch of his career. While averaging 29.4 points per game in the stretch, he is also averaging 27.4 points per game in his last five games, scoring at least 25 in four of them while averaging 50 percent shooting from the floor.
The Minutemen have won two of their last three games, and are 3-3 in their last six contests. Harris is now second in the conference in scoring behind Xavier’s Jordan Crawford with 19.5 points per game, while Crawford’s average sits at 19.6. Harris has scored 469 points in 24 games this season, while Crawford has scored 470.
Against the Dukes, Harris had 29 points and six assists, and was named the A-10 Player of the Week. He followed that performance up with a 27-point effort against the Hawks, including two assists and two steals.
Harris is now the fourth on the career-scoring list in UMass history with 1,816 career points.
Against the Colonials last season, Harris led all scorers with 19 points, shooting 5-of-8 from 3-point range. The last time both teams met at the Smith Center, Harris had 20 points and hit five shots from beyond the arc in the win.
Former UMass player Marcus Camby was traded Tuesday from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Portland Trail Blazers for guard Steve Blake and forward Travis Outlaw. Camby, a member of the 1996 Final Four team and one of the best players in school history, is second all-time in blocked shots (336).
Camby won the 2006-2007 Defensive Player of the Year Award, leading the NBA in blocked shots per game.
This season, Camby is averaging 7.7 points per game and 12.1 rebounds per game, which is second in the league behind Dwight Howard.
David Brinch can be reached at email@example.com.