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Brandon Costner: The Key To NC State's Defensive Rebounding

Brandon Costner is NC State's best defensive rebounder, and I've had a growing suspicion of late that as he goes, so goes the team. That is, BC's defensive rebounding correlates to the team's defensive rebounding moreso than any other player. Do the numbers back that up?

Here's what I did: I categorized our sixteen conference games as either good or bad defensive rebounding performances. You'd expect there to be some gray area in a few cases, but there really was no in between for the Wolfpack this year. We either did a good job or a poor job. There are five games in the Good column: vs. Duke, vs. UNC, at Georgia Tech, vs. Virginia Tech, at Virginia Tech. The other 11 games go in the Bad column.

I then looked at defensive rebounding percentage for each NC State player in the good games and the bad games. So, how did each player's DR% change between the games in which State rebounded well as a team and the games in which it did not? There were three players whose defensive rebounding percentages were positively correlated with team DR%. These would seemingly be the guys who the team relies on to carry the defensive rebounding. The numbers are below. The first column (Good) lists each player's DR% in the Good games. The second column (Bad) lists their DR% in the Bad games. The last column gives the difference between the two.
 Good Bad Diff
Costner 29.0 14.7 +14.3
McCauley 15.6 12.5 +3.1
Grant 13.1 11.2 +1.9
Atsur, Fells, Nieman and Horner rebounded slightly better in the Bad games, so clearly they have had no impact on the team's overall defensive rebounding. No surprise there.

Individually, Grant and McCauley don't make much of a difference, either. Gavin's defensive rebounding has essentially been constant regardless of the team's level of success. McCauley's differential is more marked, but even when the team rebounds well, his DR% has not been exceptional. It's not these guys who carry our defensive rebounding.

It's Brandon Costner. His DR% in the Good is nearly double what it is in the Bad. He more than anyone else has stepped up his defensive rebounding in the games where the team has rebounded well defensively. That 29% is a huge number--if he averaged that for the entire season, he'd rank second nationally in DR%. The 14.7 figure, by contrast, is just okay. If he averaged that percentage for the entire season, he wouldn't even rank in the top 500.

In terms of defensive rebounds per 40 minutes:
 Good Bad
Costner 9.5 5.5
McCauley 5.1 4.6
Grant 4.3 4.2
Costner grabbed 40 of his 91 defensive rebounds in the five Good games (50 in the other 11).

Keep an eye on him at the defensive end tomorrow night. If he is active on the defensive glass, we'll more than likely rebound competitively as a team. His production hasn't been there of late--in the last four games of the season, he had a total of 15 defensive rebounds and never more than four in any one game--and the team has been getting crushed.

We deprived Duke of second chance opportunities once and we can do it again; it's all going to start with Brandon Costner.