There’s a new way of looking at one of the game’s paramount stats. Now some coaches have found new ways to attack the glass.
If you hold steadfast to the belief that numbers never lie, you probably still concede that they sometimes don’t point due north. Because, let’s face it, there are few statistics in this game that require as much additional context as rebounds.
Rebounding totals can be deceiving on their own, especially in this age when there are more three-point attempts than ever. It makes sense that more coaches are turning to rebounding percentage over more traditional rebounding figures.
Not all 15-board nights are the same. That’s why this stat is needed—to help separate the rubber from the road.
How It Works
Offensive rebounding is one of the Four Factors, a group of stats some coaches live by, and also plays a crucial role in a team’s effective field goal percentage.
Looking at the two game totals below, tell us which night Team A was more effective on the glass.
Team rebounding percentage totals are calculated as an estimated percentage of available rebounds captured. For offense, here’s how that formula is going to look.
For defense, revert some of these values. In other words, opponents’ defensive rebounds in the offensive formula becomes opponents’ offensive rebounds below, and so on.
Crunch the numbers and ask yourself, which game did Team A have better control on the glass?
How Teams Value It
At the nationally-ranked Beaver Dam (Wisc.) girls basketball program, coach Tim Chase found a recent study that shows an increase in offensive rebounding percentage as a team piles up three-point attempts. Chase now sets a goal of holding opponents to less than 10 three attempts per game.
With the explosion of three-point attempts in today’s game, some thought leaders such as Basketball Immersion have theorized that the best place to be positioned for a rebound is at the free throw line. That makes sense, since long-range shots tend to have a longer recoil.
But on this point, Chase has gone against the grain and emphasizes crashing the glass instead of sitting at the foul line, or hanging at the wings trying to prevent a would-be fast break.
“You might give up, once in a while, something on the other end,” Chase said. “But as I’m watching that game I’m thinking, the points we’re going to get per possession for getting offensive rebounds, compared to what we’re going to get being deep and sitting back, which kind of goes against some of your basketball instincts, right?”
The results speak for themselves. The Golden Beavers have won three straight Wisconsin state titles, last losing to an in-state opponent in 2016. The last two seasons, they’ve hovered north of 40 percent on offensive rebounding percentage, and above 70 percent on defensive, averaging 35.3 boards per game.
Highly-successful Lynden Christian (Wash.) girls basketball coach Brady Bomber has has taken a different approach to rebounding too. And it’s reflected in his team’s 76.5 defensive rebounding percentage for 2018–19.
By the traditional methods of rebounding, Bomber found that his players ended up fishing for bodies to box out instead of focusing on tracking the ball. Now he borrows tackling shields from the football team so his players can practice a “hit and get” technique, sticking a forearm in the opponent’s chest and then hunting for the ball.
“I know a lot of coaches have gotten away from the offensive glass in a lot of settings, but we’ve gotten more into embracing it,” Bomber said. “Like hey, we’re sending four to the glass, and our shooting percentage can vary a lot depending on the opponent, so let’s go chuck and chase.”
How You Can Use It
In an era where teams aim to push the ball at a blistering tempo, the best transition defense is an offensive rebound.
Some college and NBA teams theorize that if they can keep their opponents’ total number of possessions under a certain figure, they have a very good chance of winning the game. Offensive rebounding percentage can affect this goal greatly, which is why some of these aforementioned teams are doubling down on crashing the boards.
From a scouting perspective, if you understand your opponent’s rebounding percentage, you’ll not only know how they’re attacking the glass, but how you can counter. If they’re not hitting the offensive glass hard, should you sit in a zone and try to force low-percentage shot attempts? If they have a high overall percentage, should you switch to a man-to-man defense and try to get on bodies?
Seeing the rebounding percentage breakdown by quarter will also give you some perspective on what lineups are working, and which ones aren’t. Say your third-quarter defensive percentage is too low for your liking—do you need to reevaluate your substitution patterns for those final few minutes of the frame? Once you decide, you can then look at lineup efficiency data to further narrow down where improvements need to be made.
Interactive reports from Hudl Assist will give you advanced rebounding stats tied directly to video, so you can see what’s leading to those percentages.
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