Following Kentucky’s 20-point win over Mount St. Mary’s, John Calipari had one thing on his mind: offensive rebounding, and rightfully so. The Cats may have out-rebounded the Mountaineers 35-31, but UK’s opponent grabbed four extra balls off the glass. Mount St. Mary’s had 10 offensive boards compared to Kentucky’s six.
It’s not something that’s totally new; the same thing happened in the loss to Evansville. The Purple Aces brought in 11 second-chance rebounds to the Cats’ eight. On the season, UK has recorded 37 total offensive rebounds, good for 7.4 rebounds per game. According to the national statistic website Team Rankings, Kentucky is currently ranked No. 98 out of 353 teams in offensive rebounding efficiency, coming in at 29.9 percent. Upcoming opponents Louisville and Ohio State come in at No. 53 and No. 99, respectively, while Sunday’s matchup, Lamar, is currently ranked No. 294.
“We only get six offensive rebounds. C’mon. It’s not like we made every shot,” Calipari said after the game. “We shot over 50 percent, but there’s still 25 rebounds and you get six. That’s not acceptable. It’s just not.”
How does that happen?
“Being out of position; guys just trying to leak out or focused on finding their man on the offensive side of offensive rebounding,” Ashton Hagans said after the game. “We’ve got to get back to practice and get aggressive and fight more.”
Kahlil Whitney agreed.
“It starts in practice. In practice, we do a lot of box-out drills,” Whitney said. “That’s something we have to get better at, and we’ll get better at it.”
According to Calipari, the Cats can’t do that – “get better at it” – without changing their attitude.
“Your mentality has to be every shot that we take – the three, four and the five, sometimes the two, off guard – is this is a miss. You’ve got to train yourself [to think] every shot we take offensively is a miss, and I’m going to go get it,” Calipari said.
So why aren’t they doing it? Well, it’s just a little easier to get a head start on their matchup on the other side of the court.
“When you go get it, that’s three more steps you’ve got to run to go back on defense. So it’s a little easier just to [think] ‘I can’t get that; I’ll be at the top of the key and start running so I got a five-step lead on this guy. If he’s right next to me and he runs, I’ve got to sprint.'”
If you have a favorite player you wish would earn a couple of extra minutes, here’s Calipari’s big secret: that player should try going for a few more offensive rebounds.
“I’m telling you: if I get a guy that will offensive rebound, he’s staying in the game. [I’m] giving you the answers; [I’m] giving you an A. Go rebound offensively.”
Friday night, Hagans led all rebounders with seven total boards, all of which were defensive. Nick Richards rightfully led the charge of offensive rebounds with four, while EJ Montgomery and Nate Sestina each had one. That’s good for Kentucky’s six total offensive boards, which is not even close to what Calipari wants to see from this team.
“Do not accept being blocked out, fight for every ball and if you don’t get it, sprint back. What if we had three guys doing that?,” Calipari asked. “Some of my teams were that way. We were getting 17, 18, 19 offensive rebounds, which gives you four or five or six easy baskets. Which means if you play how we play, it’s hard to beat us.”
By that logic, the Cats are six down, with 11, 12 or 13 more to go.