Corny title aside, it’s the simple truth. Does the offense need work? Absolutely. It has been sloppy and it has lacked variety. Against Colorado State, it boiled down to C.J. Wilcox doing whatever he could and not much else. The defense isn’t terrific either. But I really think that the 73-55 loss could have been very close, or even gone the other way, if Washington had managed to stay even in rebounding, rather than losing out 40-19. Most importantly, the Rams’ grabbing 19 offensive boards is an embarrassment. Colorado State has solid size, but their leading offensive rebounder, Pierce Hornung, stands 6’5″. It wasn’t about size, it was about will.
Hornung and the 6’10″ 260 pound Colton Iverson came in with a willingness to block out, to fight, to scrap for every ball. To pay attention to position. To assert themselves. In response to this, Washington did nothing but stand by. N’Diaye, with eight rebounds, was the only player to get even close to playing his part. Even then, it was often his fault that Iverson was in position to nab easy rebounds. But the real blame has to go to the other posts. In particular, the rail-thin Jernard Jarreau was outmuscled and outworked. In 32 minutes he had two boards. Desmond Simmons, though he often seems to put in a lot of effort on the court, simply did not do a good job of diligently working on blocking out his man, so all the scrappiness in the world only got him four.
Yes, by the time the conference games start, Shawn Kemp Jr will be back. He is a big, physical player that I have to imagine would do a better job of putting in work on the offensive and defensive glass, but I don’t think it’s all that smart to depend on a very unproven young player to rescue this team. Instead, change has to come from within the existing fabric of this team. Perhaps Jerreau, Simmons, and Breunig need to take it upon themselves to actually take some pride in their work. Perhaps guys like Gaddy and Wilcox need to do a better job of crashing the boards. Maybe the coaches have to do their job and impress upon the entire team how important rebounding is to their success as a group. I’m not sure. But I do know that until the rebounding improves, this team will not.