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Fundamental Advice on Boxing Off From Rick Pitino, Rick Majerus & Tom Izzo

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I consider myself a student of the game of basketball and I've had the benefit of working with some great coaches throughout my life and especially during my playing days.

When I was a Freshman I was invited to the 5 Star Basketball Camp in Pennsylvania. This was a big deal for me as it would be my first real test against players outside of my area and region. While there I learned some very valuable lessons…

#1) I wasn't as good as I thought I was

#2) I had a lot to learn about the game of basketball

Coach Rick Pitino played Billy Owens in a one on one game that week and I will never forget it. Billy Owens was one of the premier players in the country and was going to be attending Syracuse University.

Coach Pitino smoked him in a game of one on one. It wasn't close. You're probably wondering how this ties in to boxing off and rebounding and I'll tell you. Billy Owens was an athlete, 6 feet 8 inches tall with long arms and a very strong and athletic body.

Rick Pitino was a smaller guy and much older. Pitino got every rebound that I could remember. Afterwards he talked about it and what he taught are things I will never forget.

He specifically named his ability to rebound as the reason that he beat Billy and he blamed it on bad coaching. When Billy Owens would take a shot Coach Pitino got his hand up every time. Not once did he neglect to get a hand in his face.

As the shot went up Coach Pitino would then take his arms and have them meet Billy right in the chest. He stood him up and got him out of an athletic position. His knees were not bent. Then he turned and made contact and most importantly he went for the ball. Owens never got one rebound on a missed outside shot of his. It was very impressive.

I worked with Coach Majerus for a while when he was at the University of Utah and he had the same strategies for rebounding.

  • Make Contact
  • Stand your opponent up
  • Turn
  • Make Contact
  • Go get the Ball

He would always say that anyone could be a good rebounder if they did those things. Very rarely did anyone ever say that a Rick Majerus coached team was outworked, out hustled, or more prepared.

One of the best rebounding teams in college basketball is Michigan St. coached by Tom Izzo. I love watching them play because they are so sound rebounding the ball. That shot goes up and instantly instead of turning and getting their back ends into the defender, they face them and make contact before they turn to box out. Pay attention to it next time you are watching.

By doing these things you will be able to negate anyone you play against who may be a better jumper than you or even a better athlete.

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