Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Ben Howland's good teams, going back to his years in Pittsburgh and probably beyond them, have always been burly, physical rebounding teams. This year's squad has not consistently matched that profile, and has allowed teams they'd controlled back into games by giving them multiple extra opportunities to score.
UCLA is last place in the conference, allowing 37.7 rebounds a game and allowing their opponents to to take back 30.9 percent of their missed a shots every night.
"If there was a negative to look at, which is what usually gets pulled out, it would be obviously our rebound margin," said Coach Howland at the Tuesday post-practice press conference inside Pauley Pavilion.
"If we're gonna have a chance to win this conference, we're not going to win it continuing on the path we're on from a rebounding perspective; we're dead last in that area.
"What's alarming, and what's been alarming for us for a while, is we have to somehow figure out, is our rebound margin"
The Bruins' need more from their guards, specifically Larry Drew II, Jordan Adams, Norman Powell and Shabazz Muhammad at the defensive end. Rebounding there needs to be emphasized, underlined and conditioned to an almost Pavlovian extreme so that when the ball goes up, the lads reflexively drool in their eagerness to hunt it down.
Coach Howland made an anecdotal, statistical point near the end of the conference using Final Four teams over the last ten years—three of which were his—having intimidating rebounding numbers.
"Almost without exception every one of those teams rebound margin is close to double digits," said the coach. "So it directly correlates to winning; dominating the glass. We've made up for it by taking great care of the basketball and being efficient offensively, for the most part during the year."