CARBONDALE — The Southern Illinois University basketball team passed its boards Saturday.
San Jose State came into Saturday’s game with just a 2-4 record, but had been killing opponents on the boards. Through the first six games the Spartans were averaging 41.5 rebounds per game while holding opponents to 29.7.
No team had out-rebounded San Jose State … until Saturday. The Salukis enjoyed a 30-28 advantage on the glass in a 76-58 win. Both the Salukis and Spartans had nine offensive rebounds.
“We’re the first team to outrebound them, first team,” said a smiling coach Barry Hinson.
The Spartans are tall and long, starting 6-foot-11 Oumar Barry, 6-8 Keith Fischer and 6-9 Ryan Welage. And, 6-11 Ashtin Chastain comes off the bench.
“I didn’t think they were that physical,” said SIU forward Jonathan Wiley. “But, their length is something you don’t see too much, especially at the mid-major level. They have some pretty good length.
“We were a lot tougher than they were. I think that helped a lot, just everyone being aggressive to everything they did, defense, closing out.”
The Salukis used a team approach on the boards with six players getting three rebounds or more. Armon Fletcher, who averages just 3.8 rebounds per game, led the team with six.
“Huge, and I don’t mind telling you we challenged Armon Fletcher,” Hinson said. “That’s a big deal. We told him to quit worrying about scoring, go be a rebounder. That’s one of the things we talked about, no team had outrebounded this team. That’s pretty good. That was our emphasis.”
Rudy Stradnieks and Sean Lloyd both had four boards while Wiley, Aaron Cook and Eric McGill all had three. Thirteen of the team’s 30 boards came from the guard position.
“In most occasions when you’re a good rebounding team your guards are part of that process,” Hinson said. “It’s not just bigs. It’s always guards being part of the process. We talk about that. We go out of every locker room, “Guards have to rebound.” Every time we go out on the floor. I thought we did tonight.”
The effort by the guards minimized the fact that SIU’s bigs – Kavion Pippen and Wiley combined for just four rebounds.
“It was definitely an emphasis all week because San Jose State out-rebounded everybody they played, even the games they lost they were still outrebounding teams, which is really rare,” Wiley said. “I think it was just an emphasis all week, just crash the glass, crash the glass.”