If Michigan wants to survive in the paint against Michigan State and its Big Ten-leading plus-9.1 rebounding margin this Wednesday, it better learn to get a body on people soon.
Saturday against Vermont, the Wolverines got outbattled, outhustled, outpositioned, outworked and completely outplayed on the boards.
The Catamounts tied a Crisler Arena record with their season-high 25 offensive rebounds, two more than Michigan could salvage on its own end of the court. In total, the Wolverines were outrebounded 44-31.
“Coach emphasized (rebounding) at halftime, but they just killed us and we can”t have that,” said forward LaVell Blanchard, who finished with five boards.
After the game, Michigan coach Tommy Amaker lamented his team”s inability to rebound against an opponent from the meager America East conference.
“It”s concerning. We”re hoping this was just a one-time lapse,” Amaker said. “That would be nice if that”s that case.”
The rebounding issue had not been this depressing recently, but it has been a weakness all season. In the Big Ten home opener against Purdue, the Boilermakers won the battle on Michigan”s glass 18-17. Boston College and Eastern Michigan also grabbed more than 15 offensive rebounds during their respective visits to Crisler earlier this season.
Amaker admitted that his team”s rebounding ills allowed Vermont to “keep within striking distance.”
Those second and third chances added up for the Catamounts, who finished the game with 75 field goal attempts 16 more than the Wolverines.
Trevor Gaines, Vermont”s leading scorer and rebounder during the season, notched 12 of his team”s 23 second-chance points.
Whistle blower: LaVell Blanchard has battled with foul trouble in each of his team”s past three home games, fouling out twice. Saturday, he was limited to just 19 minutes and finished with 12 points and four fouls.
“We need him on the floor for us to be successful,” Amaker said. “What it does is it causes us to go to our bench in a different way than we planned.”
Amaker pointed to poor positioning as the cause, and Blanchard agreed.
“Three of those fouls came trying to get rebounds,” Blanchard said. “When I come over the back on the defensive end, that”s definitely a positioning thing.”
No love for Crisler: This weekend the Columbus Dispatch ranked Crisler Arena as the second-worst Big Ten basketball venue behind Penn State”s Bryce Jordan Center.
The article called Crisler “a notorious noise underachiever” and “a dark, old mushroom in need of some juice,” noting that even with the talented Fab Five “the place just did not hop.”
King of all media: Vermont head coach Tom Brennan”s weekly radio show Corm and Coach on WCVP draws better ratings in Burlington, Vt. than the Howard Stern Show, and has consistently done so for nearly nine years.
“I”d never claim I am as good a coach as Rick Pitino or 326 other guys, but I am every bit as good as Stern,” Brennan told CBSSportsline.com.