Tom Izzo – Creating a Rebounding Culture

Tom Izzo – Creating a Rebounding Culture by Bob Starkey

This article was originally featured on Coach Starkey’s website: HoopThoughts.Blogspot.com.

“Rebounding is one of his staples,” said Izzo’s former associate head coach and current Northern
Illinois head coach Mark Montgomery, whose own team finished last year atop the Mid-American Conference in rebounding. “It’s something he’s going to work on every single day.”

We came across an article from a year ago from Grantland.com written by Brett Koremenos on the culture of rebounding at Michigan State and how it is developed by Tom Izzo. The article is titled “How Tom Izzo Turned Michigan State into a Rebounding Factory.” Below are a few excerpts I took from the article but you’ll want to click on this link for the entire post because Koremenos has video to go along with his column.

Montgomery says that everything Michigan State does — from its film sessions to past players coming back to impart wisdom — is aimed at creating the tough, gritty culture we see embodied in its play every season. The emphasis on rebounding is a key part of that because, along with defense, tracking down a missed shot doesn’t require any basketball-related talent.

“There’s no skill involved,” Montgomery says. “You want the ball more. It’s in your heart. It’s body on body. It’s kamikaze. You go in there and come away with it.”

In order to rebound, as with anything in life, you have to learn to crawl before you can walk. And Izzo starts by breaking down his rebounding technique in the form of one-on-zero, one-on-one, and two-on-two drills from different spots on the floor. Except, Michigan State doesn’t drill the traditional boxout that most fans associate with the game. You won’t go to a Spartans practice and find players putting their backsides into an opponent, trying to shield them off from an errant shot. Instead, Izzo teaches a technique for defensive rebounding he calls “hit-find-fetch.”

Michigan State players spend a good portion of their practice time honing this technique and mentality under Izzo’s watchful eye. Many other coaches spend only a cursory amount of time on this facet of the game — not that it makes them inherently better or worse, just different.
Izzo doesn’t just stop at those smaller breakdown exercises, though. In fact, they’re only a prelude to the grand march of rebounding drills: the war drill, a 5-on-5 slugfest featuring one ball and 10 Big Ten athletes trying to secure a rebound amid total chaos.

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