Tennessee basketball coach Donnie Tyndall may have a few worries about the spindly collection of post players he and his staff threw together in a whirlwind month of replenishing the Vols’ roster. But there’s one thing he’s not concerned about, nor has he ever been as a head coach.
The Vols will rebound, and they’ll keep their opponents off the glass as well.
“That’s something we emphasize every day, and in every film session,” Tyndall said.
The numbers tell the tale. In Tyndall’s first eight seasons as a head coach, six at Morehead State and the last two at Southern Miss, his teams were either first or second in their respective leagues in rebounding margin. At Morehead, aided by rebounding machine Kenneth Faried, the Golden Eagles were first in the Ohio Valley in that stat in Tyndall’s first season, second in his second and first in the last four.
At Southern Miss, the Eagles were first in Conference USA in 2012-13, Tyndall’s first season, and second a year ago.
“I don’t want to sound like I’ve invented the wheel,” Tyndall said. “In coaching, you get what you emphasize. And we emphasize rebounding. We use a toughness rebounding drill called 3 on 3 rebounding. It’s like a football deal for 25 minutes a day. It gets your mentality that blocking out [on the defensive boards] is huge and going to rebound it offensively is huge. It’s just getting what you emphasize.”
So far, the three post players Tyndall has on campus have demonstrated rebounding ability. Jabari McGhee is a long, natural athlete with a nose for the ball. Willie Carmichael, also long at 6-8, but lean at less than 190 pounds, attacks the glass as though his life were tied to his rebound average. And finally, newcomer Tariq Owens, has shown in pick-up games that he’s a solid offensive rebounder and, at 6-10 with a massive wingspan, a rim protector.
None of the three players are accomplished offensively, though, so Tyndall hopes to use his remaining summer skills instruction time and fall practice to turn all three of his freshman post players into more than just put-back guys.
Help could come from FGCU transfer Eric McKnight, but he’s not yet on campus, so he’s still an unknown commodity. As a fifth-year senior who began his career at Iowa State, he’ll at least have an understanding of the physical nature of the college game.
Tyndall won’t be afraid to utilize a smaller lineup, but he’s hopeful a low-post scoring threat can emerge between now and the Vols’ first game against VCU on Nov. 14.