In my view, two of the three most important things a team can do are making free throws and rebounding well (the other is taking care of the basketball). There will be nights when your shots don’t fall and when the opponent seems to drain every shot they make, but at least to a certain extent, you can control how you shoot free throws, how you take care of the ball, and how you rebound.
Texas Tech has been out-rebounded in all three Big 12 games this season. They’ve generally done alright on the offensive glass, but they been worked over on the defensive boards in the past two games. Joel Ntambwe‘s departure lost them an impact player on that front, but there are guys such as Marcus Santos-Silva and Tyreek Smith who have some size. There will be teams who have taller guys, and you can’t control how the ball bounces off the rim, but Tech simply has to do better here.
Grabbing just 36.6 rebounds per game, Beard’s team is just seventh in the conference. Meanwhile, it is just eighth in defensive rebounds per game at 23.8.
Part of this rebounding problem is that Santos-Silva has spent too much time on the bench in recent games. He hasn’t played over 25 minutes in any of his last five games due mostly to foul trouble and ineffective play (as was the case against the Cowboys on Saturday and against Kansas).
As a result, Tech has gone to a five-guard lineup with Shannon or Peavy being the biggest players on the floor. That’s left the team vulnerable on the glass. But there is one card Beard could play more to help in this regard.
Though he’s only 6-foot-7, redshirt freshman Tyreek Smith plays bigger than his stature. He possesses elite athleticism that allows him to be a factor on the boards while also protecting the rim. And per every 40 minutes played, he’s averaging 11.1 rebounds per game, which is behind only Santos-Silva when it comes to players in the regular rotation.
So it’s a bit puzzling why he’s played exactly 12 minutes in five of his last seven contests. Here’s betting that number increases as we move through Big 12 play because Beard has to find some solutions on the boards.