"Crashing the Boards: Team USA Basketball's Rebounding Woes"sports,basketball,TeamUSA,rebounding,boards,crashingtheboards
"Crashing the Boards: Team USA Basketball's Rebounding Woes"

“Crashing the Boards: Team USA Basketball’s Rebounding Woes”

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Team USA Basketball: The Rebounding Concern

In the knockout stages of the FIBA World Cup, there is one major concern hovering over the Team USA basketball team: rebounding. This concern has been highlighted in their recent defeat to Lithuania, where they were dominated on the glass. Starting center Jaren Jackson Jr., the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year, has only managed to grab one rebound in the team’s games against Montenegro and Lithuania combined. This statistic stands out, especially after Team USA’s convincing victories in the group stage, where they boasted an average margin of victory of 36.3 points.

Defensive Vulnerability

Team USA’s struggles on the glass have been primarily on the defensive end. In their recent games, they have been outrebounded by their opponents, and their inability to secure defensive rebounds has led to their opponents gaining second-chance points. The team’s head coach, Steve Kerr, has highlighted turnovers and rebounds as the major concerns, stating that if they can stay even in the possession game, they have a great chance of winning against any opponent.

The roster construction of Team USA has played a significant role in their rebounding struggles. Jackson is better suited as a power forward, and with the absence of true big men on the roster, the team often finds itself at a size disadvantage against teams with more traditional frontcourts, particularly European teams. This disadvantage becomes evident on plays where Jackson is pulled away from the rim, leaving smaller players to deal with opposing big men under the basket.

The Importance of Rebounding

Team USA’s small-ball approach has its advantages in many areas of the game, but rebounding is an integral aspect of winning the tournament. It starts with Jackson setting the tone as the starting center, even though rebounding is not his forte. When Jackson is not around the rim due to defensive responsibilities or challenging shots, the rest of the team must step up to compensate. Instances like Mindaugas Kuzminskas’ crucial basket at the buzzer against Lithuania, where all five Americans were in the paint but failed to secure the loose ball, should not happen.

Personnel Considerations

It may be time for Team USA to explore giving more minutes to players like Bobby Portis and Walker Kessler, who have shown potential as strong rebounders during the 2022-23 NBA season. Despite being statistically the team’s best rebounders, they currently rank lower in minutes played, reflecting Coach Kerr’s preferred small-ball strategy. However, if the rebounding struggles persist, a personnel change may become necessary. Portis, in particular, brings experience in big games, the ability to space the floor, and relentless effort, which could greatly benefit the team.

Moving Forward

Team USA’s first opportunity to address their rebounding concerns will come in the quarterfinals against Italy. The Italians have proven to be the second-best rebounding team remaining in the tournament, averaging 11.4 offensive rebounds per game. Despite having a talent advantage over every remaining team, Team USA must recognize that success in international tournaments is not solely reliant on individual talent. In these shorter games, on smaller courts, against battle-tested opponents, it is the little things like rebounding that often make the difference.

As Team USA progresses in the FIBA World Cup, rebounding will continue to be a critical factor in their success. They must address the issue not only through the efforts of Jackson but also by utilizing other personnel effectively and ensuring a collective team effort to crash the boards. Otherwise, their championship aspirations may slip away.


"Crashing the Boards: Team USA Basketball
<< photo by Ryan Graybill >>
The image is for illustrative purposes only and does not depict the actual situation.

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Green Rache

Hi, I'm Rachel Green, a journalist who has worked in both print and broadcast media. I'm a firm believer in the power of journalism to change lives, and I strive to make a positive impact through my reporting.

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