Opinion: Men’s basketball team in need of defensive rebounds

Maher Kawash, Basketball Reporter

The Eastern men’s basketball has three forwards that are 6-feet-8 or above yet somehow rank 10th in the Ohio Valley Conference in defensive rebounds.

It is important to note that height does not always correlate to rebounds as strength and position are also factors in snagging a board over the defender.

Regardless, it seems like the Panthers three-headed monster in the post of Muusa Dama, Aboubacar Diallo and Lucas Jones should be racking up more rebounds.

And when looking at recent games, rebounds have been a key factor in all of Eastern’s wins.

For example, the Panthers last victory came against Tennessee-Martin, and the 20-point margin of victory was aided by the four-rebound advantage Eastern ended the game with.

Dama is the biggest factor of all in that as well.

In that game, the 6-foot-9 forward pulled down 13 rebounds, which stands as his highest total in the last six games.

And to no surprise, the Panthers are 1-5 in that span.

There are several factors that go into a win, but when a team is without three of its guards like Eastern is, the rebounds and frontcourt performances go a long way.

“We’ve got to rebound better because we have fewer guards,” Coach Jay Spoonhour said. “You just get more big guys out there and need to rebound better.”

Dama leads the Panthers with 145 rebounds on the season, but the second highest total may not come from an expected person.

While playing-time factors into this, it is not the other two big men on Eastern’s squad that has totaled 103 rebounds this season; instead, it is the 6-foot-4 wing Jujuan Starks.

It has been said before that Starks really just plays bigger than his size expects him to, but he has been a key cog down low for the Panthers.

But then on the other hand, he is the second-best rebound so far for Eastern while averaging just five per game.

That should put it into perspective of the fact that the Panthers must improve on the boards if they are going to salvage their season in this final stretch of conference play.

There is some bad news for the road ahead though.

Eastern’s next opponent, Jacksonville State, is one of the better rebounding teams in the Ohio Valley Conference.

In fact, the Gamecocks do it in a special way; crashing the offensive boards.

They rank first in the OVC with about 100 more offensive rebounds than the next ranked team.

On average, Jacksonville State outrebounds its opponents by about six per game, and that is good for second best in the conference.

It does not matter if it comes from the guards or the big men, the point is Eastern will have to improve its rebounding if wins are to come.

Maher Kawash can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]