Often said, but never overstated — rebounds will carry heavy significance with the Lady Lions if they have aspirations of going deep into the NCAA tournament.
Since 2007, the lowest rebounding margin (difference between the team’s and its opponent) for a NCAA Champion was plus-4.5 by the 2006-07 Tennessee Lady Volunteers. The next lowest was plus-6.0 by the 2009-10 Texas A&M Aggies.
Last season, the Lions had a rebound margin of plus-1.8, which ranked 116th in the NCAA. Not surprisingly, the Lions were out-rebounded 15 times in 2011-12.
Fortunately for the Lions, they are returning their top two leading rebounders, senior Nikki Greene and redshirt senior Mia Nickson, who both averaged 7.8 rebounds per game. The 2012-13 season offers a new slate to dominate the boards, but it also presents new talent.
Freshman Candice Agee, a 6-foot-6 center, will add another big body down low.
“Rebounding is always a key,” Nickson said. “We always want to get the ball and get more possessions. [Agee] is definitely going to help with that, especially with her size and her ability to find the ball.”
But the pressure will not only fall on Agee to pick up with the rebounds, it will fall on the whole team, said junior forward Ariel Edwards.
Regarded as a “stat stuffer” by assistant coach Kia Damon, Edwards will be expected to pick up some of the rebounding slack. In 2011-12, she averaged 4.3 rebounds per game, fifth-best on the team.
“After we lost Julia Trogele, a couple of seasons ago, she was a big rebounder for us,” Edwards said. “When we lost her, we kind of took a hit in that department. They want me to step up and fill that spot that she left.”
From the guard position, redshirt junior guard Dara Taylor will try to do her part to help the rebounding battle as well.
A transfer from Maryland, Taylor averaged 2.2 rebounds per game in her Terripan career, but she will look to improve that with the Lions.
“I know I am a little small, but I’ll get in there and help out with the rebounds,” she said.
Junior forward/center Talia East, who averaged 5.2 rebounds per game last season, believes the 2012-13 season will have a different outlook on the glass.
“Our guards have actually stepped up. They all have decided to improve their rebounding coming back to this year,” East said. “Just with them improving and the post improving, I think we should definitely be able close the gaps on those games that come down to rebounding.”