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Memphis hopes ‘cutthroat rebounding’ improves prowess on boards

Oct 22, 2012, 5:45 PM EST

Memphis v Georgetown Getty Images

Anytime you hear the word ‘cutthroat’, chances are the meaning attached isn’t pretty. That applies to Memphis’ new rebounding drill.

An article by Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial Appeal details the Tigers’ new practice ritual for developing a killer instinct for hitting the boards.

It’s ‘Cutthroat Rebounding.’ An assistant fires a shot from the wing and all hell breaks loose. It’s four-on-four. Bodies get beaten, there’s tons of contact and the winner is the team that pulls in the rebound. Players are told to use two hands and jump off both feet. Points are awarded for a defensive rebound and the team that loses (doesn’t get the rebound) leaves the floor and rotates out. A team has to get a defensive rebound before they can switch to offense.

Not exactly a science, but rebounding is as physical as blocking in football, so the more contact a player can handle, the better.

“There’s going to be some fouling. It’s not going to be an exact fundamental drill,” Pastner said. “It’s more about, ‘When the ball is in the air or it’s a 50-50 ball, you better go get that sucker with two hands and you better jump off the ground with two feet.’ “

It’s no secret Memphis was average at-best rebounding last season, and has been in Pastner’s previous two seasons. In 2011-12, they were 96th in total rebounds, 179th in rebounds per game and as Smith shows in the article, the Tigers’ had a plus-1.3 rebounding margin, 136th nationally last season.

Fortunately for Pastner, this team doesn’t lack the beef inside. Tarik Black (6-9. 262 pounds) and Adonis Thomas (6-7, 240) return along with Ferrakohn Hall (6-9, 220) and now they add freshman Shaq Goodwin (6-9, 246). The problem is, two of the teams’ top rebounders, Will Barton (a team-leading 8.0 per game) and Wesley Witherspoon (third on the team with 3.7 per game) are gone.

David Harten is the editor of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.