March 18, 2014
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By MATT WEITZEL
DAYTON, Ohio — Two of the nation’s top rebounding teams — the University of Iowa and Tennessee — will meet Wednesday night in an NCAA Tournament first round game.
The Volunteers own a +8.5 rebounding margin over their opponents this season, a margin that ranks third-best in the nation. The Hawkeyes have had a +7.4 rebounding advantage, an average that is ninth-best in the country.
One of Iowa’s top rebounders this season has been junior Gabriel Olaseni. The 6-foot-10 center ranks third on the team in rebounding (5.1), playing an average of 16.7 minutes per contest. Olaseni believes the battle on the glass Wednesday night will come down to who wants it more.
“We are going to have to have the desire to out-work them,” said Olaseni. “Hopefully we can win that battle.”
Olaseni is the only basketball player from a BCS conference to grab more offensive (82) than defensive rebounds (81). Overall, Olaseni is one of just four Division I players (minimum 160 rebounds) to have more offensive than defensive rebounds, joining Mark Henniger of Kent State, Butler’s Khyle Marshall, Kelsvin Penn of Florida Atlantic, and Towson’s Timajh Parker-Rivera.
Point guard Mike Gesell says Olaseni’s ability to clean the offensive glass gives the team a big boost.
“The offensive rebounds are huge especially when we’re struggling offensively,” said Gesell. “It’s huge when you can go back and get offensive rebounds and get another chance to score. He brings a lot of life and energy to this team.”
Olaseni says his offensive rebounding productivity comes down to desire, heart and determination.
“You don’t get anything you don’t work for,” he said. “You have to keep working and hopefully you get a couple. No rebound is going to fall to you; you have to go out of you area to get a lot of them.
“You have to go after the rim, but you have to look where the shot is going up from. If it’s a close shot, it’s going to be a close rebound, but if it’s a 3-point shot it’s going to fall to a different position.”
Olaseni credits his teammates in his rebounding success.
“I go against (Adam) Woodbury every day, and he’s a very good rebounder, he helps me out,” said Olaseni. “I try to learn a lot from him, Zach McCabe and Melshan Basabe.”
As a team, Iowa ranks 19th nationally in offensive rebounds pulling down an average of 13.8 per contest. Junior Josh Oglesby says the second-chance opportunities are crucial to a team’s success.
“Second-chance points play a big part in wins and losses,” said Oglesby. “To get a second or third opportunity on offense is key to our success.”
Last year, Olaseni collected 96 rebounds (2.6) in 37 games. This season the London native has increased his rebounding total to 163 (5.1) through 32 games. Along with seeing more playing time, Olaseni attributes his rebounding aggressiveness to “confidence and understanding the game a lot more.”
Iowa (20-12) and Tennessee (21-12) will tipoff at approximately 8:10 p.m. (CT) from Dayton Arena.