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Let’s Talk About Syracuse’s Rebounding Problem

Calling SU’s abysmal team rebounding a problem is an understatement.  Although the Orange was able to knock off Colgate last night with a three-point barrage, once again the zone saw itself get out-rebounded by a team much smaller than it.

Colgate rotated nobody taller than 6-foot-9 into the lineup, yet the Orange and Raiders finished the game with 32 boards apiece, which is off-putting enough.  Factor in the idea that Colgate collected 13 offensive rebounds with such a small lineup, and it looks even worse.

So what do the fancy stats tell us about the Orange’s rebounding through the first nine games of the season?  The Orange is currently 202nd in the country in total rebounding, pulling in 35.6 per game.  In the last three games though, the team is averaging less than 30 per game.  There’s probably a pretty strong correlation between this number and the team’s two losses in the last three games.  Furthermore, Syracuse is in the bottom chuck in defensive rebound percentage.  SU is ranked 324th out of a possible 351 schools.  At just 64.4 percent, the Orange is far from league leaders like Michigan State (84.9 percent) and Arizona (84.1 percent).  Safe to say, the defensive rebounding is the real problem.  Offensively, the Orange isn’t doing a bad job rebounding the ball.  At 30.4 percent, Syracuse ranks 108th in this category, a stark contrast to its other numbers.  The team’s total rebounding percentage is 239th in the country at 47.8 percent, essentially meaning that SU collects under half of the rebounds per game.

It’s easy to identify the problem; the hard part is fixing it.  Mike Hopkins and Jim Boeheim are in a sticky situation here with just nine players that may see the floor.  One potential solution is to do away with the “small” lineup with Lydon in the middle of the zone, except for stretches when SU needs to find offense.  By playing big down low with Lydon, Coleman, and Roberson in the game, the Orange should look a lot better on missed shots.  Assuming foul trouble isn’t an issue, this should be the easiest fix.

Another potential option is flipping Malachi Richardson and Michael Gbinije in the zone, but not on offense.  Richardson is averaging 4.2 rebounds per game on the wing, which is tied for third on the team with Coleman.  However, Richardson is averaging more than twice as many minutes as Coleman.  Gbinije, averaging 3.1 rebounds per game at the top of the zone, averaged five rebounds per game last season when playing the wing.  The only thing that this would affect offensively is the fast break, which can also be run by Richardson.  It’s certainly a lineup change for Hopkins to think about, because it keeps the rotation intact.

What do you think about the Orange’s rebounding woes? Can Hopkins fix this before Boeheim returns?  Remember to follow @OrangeFizz on Twitter for SU basketball coverage.

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