Anatomy of a rebound

Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

A video breakdown of FSUs awful night on the defensive glass

FSU allowed 19 offensive rebounds vs UNC. The Tar Heels OR% was 59.4%, which was the 12th highest OR% vs any Division I team this year in all of college basketball (out of roughly 3,000 games). No FSU team has allowed that level of offensive rebounding since at least 1999, which is when tempo free data became available.

Up until yesterday I never really had a good opportunity to break down film of FSU giving up more offensive boards than they'd ever done in history. So hey! When opportunity knocks you better listen, am I right?!

But before I get to the film, let's do a little housekeeping.

Man, we miss last year's rebounding.

I keep hearing this. In game threads. On Twitter. On the television. But last year's team, the one everyone is longing for, was 213th nationally in defensive rebounding. Entering the UNC game this team was 237th. So was last year's team a better rebounding team? Yes. But the difference isn't that great. Our opponents average 34 missed shots a game. The difference between last year's rebounding and this year's rebounding is one board per game.

Get Terrance Shannon out of there!

This is the new favorite comment during game threads. When he gets the ball, does he shoot too much? Yes (though not as much as Michael Snaer or Aaron Thomas). Is he turnover prone? Yes (though not as prone as Montay Brandon, Devon Bookert or Boris Bojanovsky). What people seem to be missing is that he's the best interior defender on the team. Despite being undersized he blocks 3.6% of opponent's shots, and he uses his quickness advantage to generate a steal on 3.2% of possessions.

And - since this story is about defensive rebounding - he's grabbing them at an elite rate. When he's on the floor he rebounds 20.5% of the opponent's misses. That's more than Bernard James best season. More than Okaro's best. More than Singleton's best. In fact it's better than any Florida State player since Uche Echefu grabbed 20.7% in 2007-08.

So just stop with the nonsense. Stop turning Shannon into another Ryan Reid, Derwin Kitchen, Luke Loucks or any other Seminole the fans randomly choose to dispense their hate upon despite that player's obvious value to the team.

To get boards, put in the 7-footers

This is a myth which needs to be dispelled. The ability to rebound is correlated with height, but it has its limits. How many of the top-25 defensive rebounders in the nation are 7-footers? I'll save you the research and just give you the answer. It's zero. 19 of the 25 are between 6-6 and 6-9. This has always been the trend, and will always be the trend. If we want boards, play Montay Brandon, Okaro White, Terrance Shannon, and Robert Gilchrist. Not Kiel Turpin, Michael Ojo, and Boris Bojanovsky.

To the film!

I decided to use FSU's epically poor night on the glass to diagnose the ills. As I broke it down I was surprised - part of it I knew, part of it I assumed, and part of it was completely new. By the end my dissatisfaction with the loss had been replaced by a keen interest in how they lost.

It was a bizarre game, and while watching it live I completely underestimated the effect that crappy calls had on the outcome.

No. 1

Part of FSUs rebounding problem is due to how much the defense rotates. Players are constantly switching from one man to another, and when these switches occur at the time of the shot there is often confusion regarding box out responsibilities. Here's a great illustration.

I've put stars on the photo to indicate the most likely rebound locations for the 3-ball which was taken. The most probable location is past the basket on the exact line the ball was travelling. Since there is a backboard, this creates an angle - so to find the most likely location take the angle of the shot and reverse it off the backboard, and then have the ball travel ¼ of the distance of the shot (from the wing, where there is no backboard, increase the distance to ½ the length of the shot). Got it? If not, read that again. That star is just behind the right foot of UNC's center Joel James. Devon Bookert is headed to that spot, while Ian Miller boxes his man out creating a rebounding pocket in front of him.

The next most likely location is directly back to the shooter, roughly ½ the distance of the shot, or exactly where Michael Snaer is. Snaer - who crashed - most likely assumed that Okaro White was going to box out the shooter and protect that rebounding pocket, but he was wrong. Okaro drifted downcourt.

(click to enlarge)


No. 2

James Michael McAdoo is a good rebounder. Not great. But good. At 6-9, 230, he's the ideal size. Here, off a mid-range jumper from a teammate he goes and grabs the board. In doing so he gets away with a blatant push in the back against Boris Bojanovsky (who otherwise had ideal position) and then wins a tangle with Terrance Shannon.

Just a few seconds after No. 2, Ian Miller jumps a passing lane and tips the ball high into the air and right in the corner where PJ Hairston comes down with it. Boris, who had a rough couple of seconds with the ref, closes him out but gets called for a foul when Hairston goes out of bounds. I don't see anything on the film, but it extends the possession regardless.

No. 3

McAdoo takes a 17 jumper from the wing and Devon Bookert doesn't see his box out responsibility.


No. 4

On a 3-pointer Terry Whisnant (6-3, 185) just gets manhandled by Reggie Bullock (6-7, 210). This is just the case of 5* recruit who is now a junior making a play. It is fun to watch 6-9 sophomore Desmond Hubert get redirected by Michael Ojo with one finger.

No. 5 and No. 6

James Michael McAdoo gets to them rim where he then just beats Okaro White to the ball. Twice. When Michael Ojo gets what appears to be a held ball, he's called for the foul of being too big.

This is one of the real prices FSU pays for Okaro White's inability to add bulk. He's a good rebounder because he's such a good athlete. But against strong guys like McAdoo he gets bodied all over the place.

No. 7

Two FSU players make a hard close-out on a 3-pt shooter, and freshman Marcus Paige (the smallest guy on the court) shows his understanding by sprinting to the second most probable rebounding spot. He's able to beat Aaron Thomas to the ball and tap it to the midline corner. Terry Whisnant makes one of the great hustle plays of the day by racing ahead of the UNC player and tipping the ball off of him and out of bounds. The ref inexplicably rules that the ball went off of Whisnant.

No. 8

Terrance Shannon does a great job bodying McAdoo. But when Shannon skies for the board he gets hammered from behind by McAdoo. No call. UNC gets the loose ball.

No. 9

FSU has no one home on the weak side of a 3-pt attempt. Kiel Turpin makes an impressive play on the ball but knocks it out of bounds.

No. 10

This is where things start to get really weird. Terrance Shannon plays textbook help defense and gets a finger on the shot against red hot PJ Hairston. Okaro goes for the ball and attempts to tip it to Whisnant but instead tips it directly back to Hairston.

No. 11

After an awkward hand off from Devon Bookert to Terrance Shannon, UNC gets the steal for the breakaway layup. But Shannon makes a great recovery and blocks the shot out of bounds. The block was definitely clean, but he got him with his body after the shot and was not called for it.

No. 12

Okaro grabs the board on a missed rebound. He's completely straight up, with the ball, with a UNC player flying in from behind to tip it out of his hands. This is an easy call for the refs, and the result is always that it is the defensive team's ball. And so the refs award FSU UNC the ball.


No. 13

Freshman JP Tokoto shoots a 16 foot jumper 15 feet. It barely grazes front iron, bounces off of Okaro's head, and UNC gets the ball. Fun.

No. 14

Montay Brandon has position for the weak side rebound but just jumps too soon.

No. 15

McAdoo takes a short shot in the lane, and Okaro doesn't box him out. Instead he relies on his athleticism, but the ball takes an improbably long bounce and Okaro pays for the lack of effort.

No. 16

Okaro White rebounds a wild runner from Marcus Paige, but his hands just aren't strong enough to secure the ball reliably. He loses it in the air and UNC is right there for the board.

No. 17

Reggie Bullock air balls a 10 footer and Terry Whisnant (who has already been screwed on a similar play) boxes out McAdoo while the ball bounces out of bounds. This screencap was taken with McAdoo's foot already out of bounds, and without him having yet tipped the ball.


No. 18

Not Montay's finest moment. He has the weak side on a corner 3-pointer, and he just lets Jackson Simmons come from the strong side and grab the board. He doesn't even jump.

No. 19

To cap the night off, PJ Hairston tosses up a 3-pointer, and in classic Hairston fashion he really misses when he misses. The shot was about two feet long and at least a foot to the right and it takes a hard bounce off the backboard right to a UNC player who then commits a shot clock violation.

And here they all are.

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