Jan. 31, 2013; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide guard Levi Randolph (20) is fouled by Arkansas Razorback guards Rickey Scott (3) and B.J. Young (11) during the second half at Coleman Coliseum. Alabama won 59-56. Mandatory Credit: Kelly Lambert-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama Basketball: Rebounding Must Improve For The Crimson Tide

The Alabama Crimson Tide go on the road today in Nashville to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores. The Tide bounced back from a gut-wrenching loss to Tennessee last weekend with a 59-56 win over Arkansas on Thursday night, despite turning the ball over 19 times.

Alabama did not play particularly well down the stretch, as they only managed seven field goals in the second half. They did, however, go 18-25 from the free throw line (72 percent), and, perhaps more surprisingly, out-rebounded the Hogs 34-27.

This rebounding statistic was the difference in the game, and it is indeed something Coach Anthony Grant needs to have more emphasis on going forward. At this point in the season, Alabama is not a good rebounding team. They are dead last in the Southeastern Conference in rebounding, averaging only 31.9 a game.

This is a very troubling statistic. For a team that only averages only 61.8 points in conference play, every possession is important. Alabama’s strength is obviously their defense, but they have been unable to finish defensive series’ at times; ‘Bama is ranked 13th in the SEC in defensive rebounding, averaging only 21.6 a game.

Much of this has to do with our front court personnel. Our leading rebounder is Moussa Gueye, who averages only 4.4 a game, but being obviously limited, only averages 14.4 minutes of playing time. He “splits time” with Nick Jacobs at center, but Jacobs only averages 3.4 rebounds, and plays on average 18.9 minutes a game.

This, frankly, is unacceptable. Our two best post players average a combined 7.8 rebounds per game. Auburn’s center Rob Chubb is seventh in the SEC in rebounding, averaging 7.8 per game, and he is one person.

It’s not for a lack of effort. Coach Grant’s players play extremely hard, but there simply needs to be more emphasis on rebounding each time down the floor. The good news for Alabama today: Vanderbilt is just as poor a rebounding team as we are. They are 13th in the conference in rebounding with 32.2 a game.

Simply put, if Alabama basketball is to make a run at an NCAA at-large bid, this stat must improve. The Crimson Tide needs to make this a focal point today, and make sure they win the rebounding battle against a struggling Vanderbilt team. Tipoff will be at 4pm ET on ESPN 3.

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