The North Carolina Tar Heels currently rank #1 in the nation in rebounding at 43.1 boards per game. This is probably the most surprising and impressive statistic when you consider that Carolina lost both their starting big men from last years team Tyler Zeller and John Henson to the NBA Draft. UNC was not expected to be a weak rebounding team but leading the nation is far ahead of preseason expectations. Maybe even more impressive than the raw statistic itself is the way the Tar Heels have done it.
Big men traditionally grab the majority of the boards and are counted on to do so on most teams in both college and professional basketball, but it’s been the guards who have taken on a considerable amount of the production for UNC. Of the teams top four rebounders, two are guards including the teams second leading rebouder Reggie Bullock who grabs 5.8 per game second to only James Michael McAdoo’s 8.3.
Starting center Desmond Hubert ranks just eighth on the team at 2.2 boards per game, behind the teams two shortest players who are in the regular rotation Marcus Paige 2.5 rebounds per game and Dexter Strickland 2.6 rpg. The teams starting big men McAdoo and Hubert combine for 10.5 boards per game while their guard counterparts average a combined 10.9.
Of those who play regular minutes the big men average a combined 19.8 boards per game (McAdoo, Hubert, Joel James, Brice Johnson and Jackson Simmons). Their guard counterparts average a combined 19.9 rpg (Paige, Strickland, Bullock, P.J. Hairston, Leslie McDonald, J.P. Tokoto) okay okay the guards have a one player advantage here but come on we’re talking about a roster where the starting point guard is pulling more boards than the starting center, I think that’s an even playing field for comparison purposes.
This team relies on their guards to rebound more than most due to their combination of uniquely talented big man (McAdoo) and young bigs not yet ready for big time minutes (James, Johnson) forcing Roy to play a couple of bigs he normally wouldn’t (Hubert, Simmons).
McAdoo isn’t your traditional back to the basket, living in the paint, relying on his muscle and size type of big man. His skill set is pretty unique and he finds himself on the perimeter and away from the basket more than most who play his position meaning players like Reggie Bullock need to attack the boards for UNC to be successful.
For all the talk of this team not hustling and executing and I’ll admit I do a lot of the chirping and it’s definitely warranted at times, this is a statistic this team should be proud of. As young as this team is they have showed maturity when it comes to crashing the boards. As players like Brice Johnson and Joel James mature and the program welcomes Kennedy Meeks and Isiah Hicks next season the potential of complete and utter domination on the boards is scary.