CHATSWORTH — Murray County High School boys basketball coach Greg Linder cups his hands and shouts it maybe three dozen times a game.

“Box out!” Linder yells once more, his voice reverberating throughout the Ninth Grade Academy’s cavernous gym during Monday’s practice.

The Indians have taken to mind Linder’s emphasis on putting a body between the basket, averaging 27.6 rebounds a game in their impressive 11-3 start.

“That’s a pretty good number for a nightly basis,” said Linder, in his first year at the helm. “Our goal is to have 30 a night, and we do that by concentrating on rebounding and boxing out.”

For the players, boxing out involves a delicate mix of simplicity and complexity.

“You get low and get your butt on the other player,” said junior Stephen Spivey, the tallest Indian at 6-foot-5 and the team’s leading rebounder with six per game.

“You just have to want it,” adds senior Myka Lane, averaging four boards per game. “Getting your butt on the other guy, that’s easier said than done.”

Senior Cody Rainey, whom Linder calls his best boxer-outer, places it in different terms altogether.

“You have (coaches) yelling at you to box out, and finally one day you figure out that you won’t get yelled at if you box out,” he said. “I like boxing out. I like pulling down rebounds, and you don’t get rebounds without that.”

After practice adjourns for the night, Linder takes a minute to describe the technique. He frames his words carefully.

“Boxing out is about finding your man and putting your rear end out — I’m trying to be politically correct about this — and getting out in front,” he said.

“But the main thing is holding that position and attacking the basketball, pulling it down strongly, pivoting out and getting it out onto the break.”

That’s boxing out in a nutshell. But there’s more, senior Daylon Mathis says.

“We think a lot of it is desire,” Mathis said. “Height’s always an advantage, but if everyone boxes out, it can give you an advantage.”

With eight players standing under 6-1, the Indians are considered undersized. Spivey (6-5), Rainey (6-3) and Travis Ashe (6-4) are the team’s lone big men.

Linder has placed such importance on boxing out partly because of the Indians’ lack of size. He’s also done it because boxing out well is one of basketball’s great truisms.

“We believe that we have to force bad shots and get the rebound on those shots to win,” the coach said. “We don’t get every rebound, but we want to put focus on being in the best position to get every rebound.”

And what if a basketball pundit told Linder his team can’t get it done without big men?

“I don’t believe in that at all,” Linder said after laughing almost dismissively. “If you teach technique and fundamentals and box out, you’re going to come out on top.”

What makes boxing out work so well for the Indians is the way it feeds and facilitates the team concept. Rainey, Linder says, might not get the rebound following a missed free throw.

“But, on tape, you’ll see that somebody else got the rebound because Cody boxed out right,” said Linder. “If a teammate gets it, Cody did his job.”

So far, so good for the Indians, who are getting the job done as a group on the boards.

React to this story:


Recommended for you