Looking Past Olympic Prelims, Team USA Needs To Improve Rebounding

. Thursday, August 14, 2008
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It can be difficult to critique U.S. women's basketball team given that they have blown out their opponents by an average of 47 points in three preliminary games.

Yet despite their dominance, a number of players have pointed out that rebounding – particularly preventing their opponents from getting offensive rebounds – is a key area to work on. DeLisha Milton-Jones addressed the issue and why it’s important after the China game:

You can always get better. One thing that we stressed at half-time was that China had a lot of offensive rebounds. They were able to get put-backs and that put us in trouble because normally in that situation you end up fouling.
Although they ended up beating China on the offensive boards 16-10, Mali managed to get nearly 40% of the available offensive rebounds and totaled 15 offensive rebounds to Team USA’s 7.

It might seem like nitpicking considering they beat Mali by 56 points, however it was a problem that hurt them against Australia in the championship game of the Diamond Ball tournament. And if it leads to increased fouls as Milton-Jones said, then Australia is a team that can beat them from the free throw line – Australia went 17 for 19 from the free throw line in that game.

In Team USA’s defense, Mali is apparently a good offensive rebounding team and Lisa Leslie commented that they’re still trying out different defensive schemes.
I thought playing against Mali would be tough because they offensive board so well. We really wanted to try and put a lot of pressure on them and we got a chance to work on a lot of different defenses and that really helped us. We’re looking forward to (playing) Spain, you just never know what defense you’re going to need so we got a good chance to review them all.
So it’s possible that in experimenting with different defenses, they missed an occasional rebounding assignment that led to an inflated number of offensive rebounds. It’s also possible that Mali got more offensive rebounds because they only made 25% of their shots – with more missed shots, it makes sense that there would be more offensive rebounds.

But offensive rebounding is generally about effort so the fact that it’s cropping up as a problem despite the fact that they have such talented interior players is reason for concern. Hopefully, it’s something that they can work out as they play more games before they play Australia again.

Transition Points:

One thing Team USA has improved upon since the Diamond Ball tournament is their ball control, increasing their ball movement and decreasing their turnovers. Against Mali, their assisted field goal percentage was almost 44% and they only had 10 turnovers. Conversely, Mali’s assisted field goal percentage was only 12.5% and they had 29 turnovers, 12 of which were steals by Team USA.

Relevant Links:

Additional Quotes: USA 97, Mali 41