Duke's rebounding problem

Can the Blue Devils overcome their terrible rebounding numbers?

Updated: December 7, 2012, 1:47 PM ET
By Ken Pomeroy | Special to ESPN Insider
Rasheed SulaimonStreeter Lecka/Getty ImagesMaking baskets hasn't been an issue for Rasheed Sulaimon and Duke this season.

The Duke Blue Devils have deservedly earned respect in the first month of the season because they have successfully negotiated a difficult schedule without a loss. What's more interesting to me is that they have done so while being a particularly poor rebounding team. Heading into the weekend, they rank well outside the top 200 in both offensive (252nd) and defensive (245th) rebounding percentage. Among the 78 other teams in this predicament, the closest things to at-large teams are Davidson and Georgia, two teams who aren't very close. (UConn is also on the list and obviously would have a shot for an at-large bid were they eligible.)

You might be curious what this means for Duke. Can a team rebound like a low-major and still succeed? Given the Blue Devils' accomplishments over the first month of the season, one might assume the answer to that question should be yes. Indeed, Duke has won enough games over quality teams to demonstrate that a team can play at a high level without rebounding well.

This isn't some form of basketball magic: If a team makes enough shots and forces enough misses, its rebounding ability is marginalized. And so far, Duke is ranked 26th in both offensive and defensive effective field goal percentage. But there has to be some fear that things may not go as well in the shooting departments during tournament time and that ultimately the lack of rebounding will doom this team.


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