In Which I Focus on the Wrong Things

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but sometimes I focus on the wrong things sometimes.  And last night is one of those times.

I watched the last ten minutes of the Washington game, getting progressively more anxious about whether Noah was get his 10th rebound and continue his streak of double-doubles. I very much wanted this to happen. Every time he came out of the game, I caught myself thinking, “Doesn’t Crean know he only needs one more rebound? Do you think Noah’s going to tell him and ask to go back in the game? Should he do that? That seems insane. Why would he do that? Why would Crean put him back in the game just to get another rebound to stuff the stat sheet? He wouldn’t that doesn’t make any sense. Ooh! He’s coming back in the game. Why is he setting high ball screens? Get under the basket! Ugh, we made the shot. What?! Why is the guy he’s guarding playing at the top of the key? Just leave him and go get the rebound. Dammit Will! Why did you get that steal?! They didn’t even get to shoot. Crap! He’s going out of the game again!”

As you can see, I have problems.

But, I’m fascinated by this.

During the Stony Brook game one of the announcers made the comment that no IU player had started the season with four double-double in a row since DJ White in the 2008 season, but DJ was a SENIOR when he did that and Noah is just a freshman, which makes what he’s doing even more remarkable.

You know what’s even more remarkable than that?

It’s wrong.

DJ didn’t start the season with four double-doubles. In fact, he barely rebounded at all those first four games.He had four against Chattanooga, three against Longwood, three against UNC-Wilmington, and seven against Illinois State. In fact, his first double-double came the following night, in the team’s first loss of the year, against Xavier. Now, to be fair, DJ did have double-doubles in each of the next six games, and basically spent the rest of the season in double-double beast-mode, but he didn’t start the season with four double-doubles in a row.

Did I mention that I sometimes focus on the wrong things.

But here’s what captures my imagination with Noah and his double-doubles and why I was hoping he’d get his fifth in a row last night. I’ve never seen an IU team that rebounds like this one. I’ve seen plenty that seem allergic to the notion of boxing out, but none that seem to have a collective focus on the glass. But beyond the rarity of the deal, I’m fascinated on what this can do for this team.

We’re far enough in that rebounding like this doesn’t seem to be an anomaly. And neither does our mediocre outside shooting. We were a powerful 23.1% from three last night, and this would worry me, if we didn’t also get 20 offensive rebounds. Now, I’d prefer that Washington didn’t get 15 offensive boards of their own, but we grabbed 30 defensive boards, and getting 66% of the opponents misses isn’t too bad, especially when you consider that we also got 59% of our own.

And none of this is about athleticism. Rebounding is not about being able to out jump your opponent. That helps, but it’s about positioning, timing, and desire. And we have those things. And it is paying off.

We’ll see if we can keep it up against UConn tonight. I think we can, and I think it will be the difference.

But, mostly I’ll just be hoping Noah starts another streak. Nine rebounds is for sissies.

Jeff Taylor