With a few games under our belt, the basketball team seems like a typical Izzo-coached bunch in all respects save one - offensive rebounding. Generally, Michigan State is in the top 10 nationally in offensive rebounding percentage. This year, according to Ken Pomeroy, we're a lowly 109th. It's still early, but we are in uncharted territory so far this year, and not in a good way. Some theories to explain this include: the loss of Morgan, who was an excellent rebounder, and Green spending time at the 3, thus pulling him away from the basket and cutting into his rebounding percentage.
The loss of Morgan could, in theory be made up for by increased minutes for Nix/Sherman and Payne. We don't have statistics from last year for Payne, but so far he is exceeding Morgan's offensive rebounding percentage (which was 9.5 last year) in limited minutes, with a 16 offensive rebounding percentage. Both Sherman (8.4 last year) and Nix (14.7) were good offensive rebounders. Nix surpassed Morgan's offensive rebounding percentage by a substantial margin, while Sherman was a percentage point below Morgan. However, Sherman is grabbing offensive boards at a lower rate than last year - he's dropped from an 8.4 offensive rebounding percentage to 6.1. Nix has played only limited minutes, but has an offensive rebounding percentage of 5 - a third of last year's rate. It looks as though Sherman will be taking most of Morgan's minutes, and if he can return to last year's rate we should almost break even on the exchange.
Green is performing at almost exactly last year's level on the offensive boards, so having him spend more time on the perimeter doesn't explain the overall team drop off. The main culprit so far seems to be Roe, as he is both playing major minutes and rebounding at a much lower rate than last year. Last year his offensive rebounding percentage was a robust 10.8. This year it's dropped off precipitously to 5.9 - basically 5 percentage points lower. This should be reason for optimism, as Roe has a two year track record as an excellent rebounder on both ends. There's no reason to believe he can't return to form with a little emphasis in that area.
However, the trend for all of our main returning contributors on the offensive boards is negative - Sherman, Nix, and Roe are all rebounding at substantially lower rates than last year, which may be an indication that offensive rebounding isn't being emphasized this year to the same extent as in years past. Another explanation may be our red-hot shooting this year (which hopefully will continue) - maybe our post players have less incentive to go after boards if the shots are falling - this would be the why do all that work if the ball is going to find the bottom of the net explanation. I have a hard time buying that Izzo hasn't been emphasizing offensive rebounding, or that we're shooting at a higher enough rate to de-incentivize offensive rebounding. Hopefully it's just a slump. If we can get Roe and Sherman/Nix back up to last year's levels, we should round back into an excellent offensive rebounding team. Lets hope that happens, because our effectiveness on the offensive glass is a staple of our offensive system.