Rebounding will be key as No. 9 Utah prepares for Payton II, Beavers

Rebounding+will+be+key+as+No.+9+Utah+prepares+for+Payton+II%2C+Beavers

By Griffin Adams and Griffin Adams

When thinking of some of the best rebounders to ever play the game, there’s one player in history that no one can deny was one of the greatest — Dennis Rodman. Standing at just 6-foot-7, the Hall-of-Famer was able to battle it out with much larger players his entire career, dominating the glass and going after the rock by all means necessary.

RECENT HEADLINE: RUNNIN’ UTES ENTER THE TOP 10

After No. 9 Utah’s win over California on Sunday, Ute head coach Larry Krystkowiak mentioned how his big men, specifically Chris Reyes and Jakob Poeltl, had that Rodman mentality as they grabbed three and six offensive rebounds respectively against the Golden Bears.

Krystkowiak challenged his big men before the game to really get after it on the boards, and while the offensive rebounds were good for both Reyes and Poeltl, the Utes still got outrebounded as a whole 35-34. That didn’t sit too well with the head coach, and he said he was “disappointed” his team was outrebounded.

Reyes has started at the power forward slot the entire season and is currently averaging 4.4 rebounds per game. According to him, it’s not just the coach that gets upset when Utah doesn’t win the rebounding battle.

Cole Tan

“We take that really personally,” Reyes said of getting outrebounded. “Only a couple of teams have outrebounded us this year, so if we win the rebounding battle, we usually win the games.”

In order to shore up some of the rebounding woes Reyes said that Krystkowiak has been working with the big men for last few weeks during practice.

One thing that Krystkowiak has preached time-and-time again is making initial contact, getting a body on the players’ matchups and exploding to the ball. Reyes says that it’s essentially a do-or-die moment going for rebounds, as Krystkowiak is not afraid to use the well-documented depth that Utah has.

“We’re always trying to get that rebound. If we get blocked out, we already know coach is probably gonna take us out,” he said. “That’s our mentality, either rebound or get pulled out.”

The Runnin’ Utes hit the road again this weekend to take on Oregon State on Thursday evening, and they will need to rebound well in order to walk out of Corvallis victorious.

“We’ve watched a little bit of film on [Oregon State], their big men crash the boards hard,” Reyes said. “That’s going to be key for us this weekend.”

Leading the way in rebounding for the Beavers is point guard Gary Payton II. The do-it-all guard has made a name for himself at Oregon State, but Salt Lake City natives may recognize the name for another reason – and not as NBA legend Gary Payton’s son.

Payton II got to Corvallis by way of Salt Lake Community College where he competed for the Bruins for two seasons, and led them to a 27-7 record his sophomore year. Currently Payton II is leading the Beavers in points scored, minutes played and steals, as well as aforementioned rebounds at just 6-foot-3. Utah guard Delon Wright says its like looking in a mirror when talking about his OSU counterpart.

“He kind of reminds me a little of myself, getting steals and just does a lot of things for his team,” Wright said. “It’ll be fun to play against a guy like that.”

Payton II and the Beavers are currently undefeated at home in Pac-12 play, meaning the Runnin’ Utes will need to tread lightly when they walk into the Gil Coliseum.

An interesting aspect to the game will be three-point shooting. As of Thursday, the Utes are the current Pac-12 leaders in three-point percentage while the Beavers lead the conference in three-point defense. Thanks to the funky zone defense that it uses, Oregon State could cause fits for Utah on offense.

“They are a good defensive team, that zone is kind of detrimental to teams,” Utah’s Brandon Taylor said. “We know we have to get dialed in on both sides of the ball.”

Tip-off between Utah and Oregon State is scheduled for 9:00 p.m.

[email protected]

@GriffDoug