By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (January 2, 2016) — Lonn Reisman can’t help but see some of Dennis Rodman in Romond Jenkins.
No, the 29-year Tarleton head coach isn’t saying Jenkins is on his way to supplanting Rodman as the greatest rebounder in the history of the sport. But he does see ways Jenkins, the No. 6 rebounder in the country entering last Saturday’s victory over Ouachita Baptist, can improve by adding another facet of Rodman’s game.
“I want to see him run the court like Dennis Rodman. A lot of people don’t realize how fast Dennis was, how he didn’t just grab a rebound, he got it out of his hands and up the court quickly and then he was running the floor and getting it back for easy buckets at the other end,” explained Reisman, who helped develop Rodman into a star while serving as assistant coach at then-NAIA Southeastern Oklahoma State. “Romond probably runs the floor as well as any big many I’ve coached since Dennis, and I’d like to see him the get the ball out quick and get down the court for some more easy buckets.”
There have been flashes of Jenkins getting a rebound and becoming part of a fast break, and Reisman feels his 6-7 senior center from Midwest City, a suburb of Oklahoma City, can add to his scoring by looking not only to lead the fast break with an outlet pass but to join it with his own foot speed.
“Romond is one of the fastest guys on our team,” Reisman said. “You don’t think about that when he’s in there banging around for rebounds, but he really is. He’s a very good athlete who really knows how to run the floor and finish at the rim, and I’d like to see him take advantage of that even more.”
Not that Reisman isn’t already impressed with his center. Saturday, when Jenkins tallied 12 points and 14 rebounds, certainly was not the first time an opponent didn’t have an answer for Jenkins in the paint. He’s third in the nation with eight double-doubles and that was his third straight.
No. 11 Tarleton (12-1) has won nine straight games and is entering the meat of its schedule, beginning with what may be an all-top 10 showdown (new rankings come out Tuesday) Thursday evening at No. 7 Angelo State (10-0). Tipoff is about 7:30 p.m. following a 5:30 p.m. women’s contest at Stephens Arena.
Jenkins is averaging 12.8 points and 11.8 rebounds, putting him on pace to become the first Texan since Eric Williams in 2008-09 to average a double-double for the season. Williams, who has gone on to be a pro star in Australia, averaged 12.3 points and 10.1 boards as a senior at Tarleton in 2008-09, two seasons after John Davis collected 19.8 points and 10.8 rebounds in his senior campaign.
Danny Jones, who Reisman refers to as one of the best players he’s ever coached, averaged a double-double twice back when Tarleton was just breaking through and becoming a national power in NCAA Division II. Jones averaged 15.1 points and 12.6 boards in 2001-02, and more than 14 points and 11.0 rebounds in 2002-03. He holds the school record with 43 career double-doubles and the third and fourth best season marks with 23 as a junior and 22 as a senio.
“Romond is a high energy player a lot like Danny Jones, but Danny was a better shooter and could really stretch defenses all the way out to the 3-point line,” Reisman said. “I would have to say the player I’ve coached that Romond is most like would have to be Rodman.”
Sports Illustrated once ran a full-length feature on the science of rebounding, how Rodman studied opponents and understood when there was likely to be a long rebound or if a shooter consistently missed a certain way. But Jenkins says for him, rebounding is just an attitude.
“I think it’s just attitude and desire. You have to have that attitude that every ball that goes up, if it don’t go in it belongs to you,” Jenkins said. “I mean there is technique in how you block out and all that, but really, it’s just about being determined to make the ball yours.”
That attitude – along with a strong frame and leaping ability – have allowed Jenkins to claim more than just rebounds. He’s claimed the entire paint as his own domain.
With thunder dunks on alley-oops or put backs, an ever-developing one handed sky hook, and an assortment of athletic finishes including a reverse layup on an off-target alley-oop pass during Saturday’s 87-68 thumping of Ouachita Baptist, Jenkins has proven to be much more than just a rebounder and defender, but he certainly doesn’t mind that dirty work.
“Without Romond I don’t know that we would be a very good basketball team,” Reisman said of the two-time Lone Star Conference Defensive Player of the Week “You look at all the things he does and they are vital to our success. He’s the one in there fighting for rebounds, defending our basket and really just playing at a very high level in the post area.”
Jenkins had no idea he ranked so high nationwide in rebounding. He actually leads the nation in total boards grabbed this year with 140, while coming in sixth in rebounds per game and seventh in offensive rebounds per game.
“I didn’t know that at all, I had no idea I was that high up there,” said Jenkins, who is 1.3 rebounds away from leading the nation in boards per game. “I want to get that, to lead the nation.”
Jenkins is also third in the nation in field goal percentage (70.5), finishing at a high rate around the rim, and spurring his head coach to seek more ways to get him the ball.”
“I want him to get even more looks down there because he’s a great finisher,” said Reisman. “I want to see him getting rid of the ball quickly and getting down the court with a purpose where he can get some easy ones in transition. He does it some already, but not as much as (Rodman) did. I’d like to see him get out there on the break as much as possible.”