Why Duke is the No. 1 rebounding team in the country

Duke forward Marvin Bagley III snatches a rebound from teammate forward Javin DeLaurier, right, and Saint Francis guard Andre Wolford, left, on Dec. 5.
Duke forward Marvin Bagley III snatches a rebound from teammate forward Javin DeLaurier, right, and Saint Francis guard Andre Wolford, left, on Dec. 5. cliddy@newsobserver.com

There’s an art to rebounding in basketball.

Aside from getting good positioning and boxing out, analytics are involved, and players have to study and play the percentages.

That means Duke freshman forwards Wendell Carter Jr. and Marvin Bagley III can tell you where a basketball will likely land based on which spot on the floor a player shoots the ball from.

“For example, if you shot from one corner, it’s more than likely either going to hit the rim and go back to that same corner or going to go over the rim,” Carter said Thursday. “Like me and Marvin, when someone shoots from the corner, he takes the front side, and I take the back side.”

Bagley, who’s 6-11 and 234 pounds, and Carter, who’s 6-10 and 259 pounds, are a big reason No. 2 Duke (13-1, 1-1 ACC) leads the country in rebounding (45.3 rpg) and is second in points per game (94.6). Bagley, who averages 11.6 rebounds per game, is fifth in the country and first in the ACC, while Carter, who averages 8.9 rebounds per game, is 50th in the country and sixth in the ACC.

When a shot goes up, Bagley and Carter always seem to be under the basket, particularly on offense. It has given them opportunities to take advantage of missed shots when Duke’s guards’ shooting may be off and to score on second-chance points. Duke rebounds 41.7 percent of its misses, according to teamrankings.com, also the best in the country.

Duke freshman forward Marvin Bagley III talks about Duke's win and what Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski told the team after the win over Florida State.

“They are such good athletes and have such great hands and timing and strength that it was very difficult for us,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said of Carter and Bagley after the Seminoles’ 100-93 loss to Duke. Carter and Bagley together out-rebounded the Seminoles 37-35. “When you have two guys like that, they make up for mistakes. They make up for misses.”

Bagley accounted for 21 rebounds, 11 of them offensive. Carter had 16, seven of them offensive. Both were career-highs. Those offensive rebounds led to 28 second-chance points last week.

“We are a good offensive rebounding team. Part of it is we don’t make as many shots as we would like,” Krzyzewski said last week. “That’s one of our strengths, is rebounding and offensive boards.”

Rebounding will be key for Duke in its game against N.C. State (10-5, 0-2) at PNC Arena on Saturday. N.C. State averages 38.5 rebounds per game. But its leading rebounder is 6-5, 210-pound junior guard Torin Dorn, who averages 7.6 rebounds per game.

The last time Duke was out-rebounded in a game, it lost to Boston College, 89-84, on Dec. 9. Boston College in that game was without 6-8, 200-pound Deontae Hawkins, its leading rebounder (9.1 rpg) who’s out for the season with a torn ACL. Boston College had 35 rebounds against Duke, while the Blue Devils had 34.

Bagley said offensive rebounding is about having “heart.”

“When you see the ball bounce off the rim, just to fight, do whatever you got to do to get it for your team,” Bagley said last week. “That’s how I see it. ... You can’t teach it, you just got to play. And I just try to play every game like it’s my last game, good or bad.”

Jonathan M. Alexander: 919-829-4822, @jonmalexander

Duke at NC State

When: 8 p.m.

Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh


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