The Mikan Drill

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UNC’s struggle on the defensive glass against Michigan State

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Tom Izzo’s teams have historically been great offensive rebounding teams. That didn’t make their 32% offensive rebounding percentage any less surprising, especially considering it came against the Tar Heels. Every team won’t crash the boards as hard as Michigan State will but there were some troubling aspects to the defensive rebounding of UNC.

First, the ability of John Henson to block shots can often hurt the team on the offensive glass. While Henson is an intelligent shot blocker, rarely going for blocks he can’t reach, any great shot blocker will find themselves out of position at one time or another when they are going for a block. In our one example from their opening game, we see Henson switch on a pick and roll and stay with the ball handler as he goes for a block.

UNC rotates properly but they are left with Kendall Marshall trying to block out Draymond Green. Marshall has no shot and Green overpowers him to get the putback.


I don’t think this will happen that often but it has the potential to occur with Henson attempting to block so many shots. UNC may not be able to get a body on his man and if they do, it will likely be a guard, as happened here. This leaves Henson’s made wide open for an offensive rebound opportunity if Henson doesn’t block the shot.

The other problem that UNC had on the glass was from a physical standpoint. This is the one I am a bit more concerned about as the big men of UNC did not want to push their man away from the glass. It is only one game and I think that Coach Williams will force them to become more physical but it was not a promising opening game.

Take a look at the following clips. Many times, the UNC player had the inside position to the rebound. What they didn’t do, was get into their man and push them away from the rim. They seemed to be content with relying on their height and athleticism to out jump their opponent to the loose ball, which isn’t going to work.

Too many times, they waited for the rebound to come to them instead of going and getting the rebound. They need to focus on being more physical on the glass to keep their opponent at bay and finish the play by attacking the loose ball.

Again, I don’t think UNC will struggle on the glass all season and they faced a tough matchup as Michigan State is one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the nation. While they may sometimes be vulnerable when Henson attempts a block, the bigger cause for concern is their lack of physicality on the glass. If this keeps up, teams will exploit this weakness as a way to beat them. Lucky for UNC, it is the opening game of the season. They have a long season ahead to improve.


Written by Joshua Riddell

November 12, 2011 at 5:10 am

Posted in Team Breakdowns

2 Responses

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  1. Obviously early in the season, like you said, but the amount of offensive rebounds UNC allowed Friday night was concerning to me. There’s no excuse for the Tar Heels’ sizeable lineup to fail to box out and get beat on the glass like that.

    This was true last year as well, but UNC lacks big men off the bench. After McAdoo, Roy Williams had absolutely nothing else to turn to. Justin Watts lasted all of one minute before he was pulled because he allowed offensive rebounds on back to back possessions. You show the one where he is beasted under the rim following the Green missed free throw, but he was also responsible for that free throw in the first place after Green completely man handled him on the boards and went up, drawing the and-1.

    I agree that this shouldn’t be a consistent problem for UNC as not many teams will hit the glass on offense like MSU will this year, but it’s something to watch for.

    In a related observation, no one impressed me more during that game than Derrick Nix. The transformation his body went through is something to behold on its own, and how productive he was with that new physique really put his showing over the top.


    November 14, 2011 at 3:05 am

  2. […] For a more in depth look, I recommend reading a recent post from Josh Riddell (@TheMikanDrill) on UNC’s rebounding performance against Michigan State. However, the benefits outweigh the downfalls. Especially with a suspect guard defender in Kendall […]

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