The day after Memphis Madness, coach Pastner and the Tigers were back to focus as their season opener against Austin Peay is gradually approaching us. It was good to see that the players didn’t have a hangover from the 18,000 fans that showed the basketball program a lot of love. So far in practice, sophomore forward Shaq Goodwin and freshman forward Nick King have been performing at the highest level.
During Monday’s practice, Goodwin was grabbing rebound after rebound. Once he lost weight over the summer, he has more pep in his step and can get up and down the floor at ease. Goodwin is not the only big man who can jump for a rebound. King is also doing good deeds at practice.
King is starting to earn the respect of his teammates. During 4-on-4 drills Monday at the Finch Center, King split a double team and went for a lay-up. He missed it but was able to get his rebound for a put back. Being aggressive will earn King a lot of minutes on the floor.
King is one of the most versatile players for the Tigers, but can he contribute to the rebounding aspect? Thus far, he is doing it. He had 11 defensive rebounds in practice and added two offensive rebounds. This was more than double the amount of the second-highest total gathered by a player.
Senior guard Joe Jackson feels that he can help the Tigers on the glass.
“The last person that got 11 defensive rebounds at practice was former Tiger Will Barton, and that’s something that he’s capable of doing,” said Jackson. “If he can do it in practice, he can definitely do it in games.
“Rebounding is just strictly effort, and that’s what he’s showing, that he can make effort plays. When you can get double-figure rebounds, that’s big-time as a freshman. Hopefully it transfers to the games because we’re gonna need it.”
Rebounding was a big part of the Tigers’ success last season. They were a plus four in the rebounding margin (37.5-33.5). After last season, the Tigers lost three of their four top rebounders except for Goodwin.
In key games last season, Memphis lost the rebounding battle. In the loss to Xavier, they were outrebounded 27-14. Michigan State outrebounded them 49-29 in the NCAA Tournament.
Pastner has told King that if he wants to get playing time, he will have to rebound and forget about everything else.
“Early on, this summer, he was shooting 3-pointers, trying to showcase all of his skill set,” said Pastner. “I told him, ‘If you want to get on the floor, you get the 50-50 balls and you rebound. All the other stuff you do is not going to get you on the floor because you’re not shooting the ball at a high enough level and you’re turning it over.’ ”
I received this information from the Commercial Appeal.