It’s the Boards, the Boards

Of course you’ve got to score points, East Hampton’s coach, Howard Wood, has said, but rebounding is key. Durell Godfrey

    “We got killed on the boards,” Bill McKee, who coaches East Hampton High School’s boys basketball team, said during Biddy hoop practice at the John M. Marshall Elementary School Saturday morning.
    McKee was referring to the previous night’s lopsided 70-49 loss at Amityville.
    Howard Wood, who coaches East Hampton’s girls team, said the same thing Monday morning after a two-hour practice session during which he emphasized the importance of “boxing out.”
    While the boys had pretty much been blown out, the girls were in Friday’s game here with their Amityville counterparts all the way, until a Hail Mary heaved by the visitors’ point guard at the buzzer swished through the nets for a 44-43 win.
    “Amityville was a much bigger team — the girls played their hearts out,” McKee, who saw the game, said during Saturday’s conversation. “They were behind for a lot of the game, but kept it close. I think they hit their last six foul shots to go up 43-41. . . . I felt so bad for them.”
    For his part, Wood said, “With 30 seconds left, Amityville’s girls were begging for a timeout. After it, we inbounded with seven seconds left, and they didn’t contest it. Kaelyn [Ward, the team’s star junior point guard] came off a screen to get the ball, but it was an errant pass. They intercepted and came down looking to get the ball into Price down low, but they couldn’t. The girl just heaved it from around the C. As I tracked it, I could tell it would go in. . . . It was like they’d won the championship.”
    “It was an unfortunate incident, but the most positive thing I took away from that game is that we didn’t lose our focus, even when we were down. We fought and fought and fought to the end. ”
    A few fewer turnovers and some more made foul shots and his charges could well have come out on top, said Bonac’s coach. “But our biggest problem is that under the basket we’re not down and dirty enough. We don’t box out, we don’t push back. We don’t get the over-the-back calls because we’re in too close to the basket, we’re not working hard enough.”
    “It’s not about height — Dennis Rodman is smaller than I am — it’s about desire. Rebounding is wanting to do it. The guy who put the best defensive move on me was one of my teammates [at the University of Tennessee], Ralph Parton. He was 5-6, 5-7. I was crashing the boards from the outside, and — I still remember this — he locked me up. I was a foot taller than he was, and yet in boxing me out he stopped me cold. It kinda hurt.”
    That was the way he wanted his charges to play, said the coach, who sees that kind of play when he watches men’s and women’s college games on television. “You got to score, but really the game is about the boards, the boards, the boards. Calipari said that it boils down to ‘doing what’s right when it’s hard to do what’s right.’ ”
    Wood added that “our perimeter players have been doing all right, it’s our inside girls who have to improve. Kaelyn, as I’ve said before, can’t do it all. She can’t be expected to shoot, rebound, and bring the ball up. She needs help. . . . I don’t have the book with me, but I think she got 17 points in that Amityville game.”
    “We’re 1-4 at the moment,” he said in parting, “and we’ve got to finish at 6-6 to make the playoffs. We’ve had a couple of bad games, but we’ll see.”Of course you’ve got to score points, East Hampton’s coach, Howard Wood, has said, but rebounding is key.