Dick Harmon: Rebounding effort of BYU's Nate Austin, Kyle Collinsworth as consistent as Tyler Haws' points

Published: Monday, Jan. 27 2014 5:25 p.m. MST

Few players in the NCAA are shooting the ball like Tyler Haws. BYU teammates Nate Austin and Kyle Collinsworth may never have his touch or timing in their lifetimes. But in the realm of where they excel, they’re making their own marks.

These guys can rebound.

They’re quiet but as deliberate as gold miners. In every BYU game, they wear their hard hats, carry lunch pails and simply do the heavy lifting for coach Dave Rose. Each hauls down just more than eight rebounds a game. Consistent and countable.

This is definitely the youngest team Rose has ever coached at BYU, and his squad has been bounced around by the toughest schedule he’s ever faced. It’s also undoubtedly the strangest travel schedule anyone can remember. Who knows how this basketball year will end.

Outside of the point piling by Haws, the biggest bright spot for Rose has to be the consistent rebounding by Austin and Collinsworth.

Behind Portland’s Ryan Nichols (193 rebounds), Austin (183) and Collinsworth (182) are the league’s No. 2 and No. 3 rebounders.

They’re the only Rose players who have started every game. They’ve played a combined 44 games and combined for 1,363 minutes. Amazingly, each has had exactly 55 offensive rebounds.

Austin and Collinsworth are built as different as a pair of rebounders could be.

Austin is 6-10, lanky and pesky long. He falls on the floor a lot. Sometimes it’s diving for a loose ball; sometimes he just kind of topples over like you’d imagine the Leaning Tower of Pisa doing if things gave way. That he’s on the floor so much, yet rebounds so well is remarkable.

Collinsworth is a shade taller than 6-6 and likes to play point guard. Thing is, he can also play shooting guard, small forward, power forward and center. He’s like one of those newfangled tools that you can pick an attachment for to meet the project.

Austin kind of pounces. He plays with his hands high and has great anticipation.

Collinsworth is extremely strong and fast to the ball. He envisions missed shots and beats people to the spot.

Both embody a trait that all great rebounders have: It’s a kind of attitude that the ball belongs to them. They don’t take plays off. They are always working and rarely get caught staring. They believe the mission is theirs, not to witness somebody else try to get it done.

They always get in the mix, jump in the fray, and keep grabbing, reaching and poking until they’ve got the ball or someone else has beaten them to the orb.

Pat Riley put it this way, “Great effort springs naturally from great attitude.”

And that’s what Rose has in this pair.

They aren’t the greatest free-throw shooters. Austin has a nice outside stroke he occasionally dabbles with, while Collinsworth knows his best chance is to attack the rim and be crafty inside the key. At times, Austin needs to finish at the rim with more authority and at times Collinsworth may force a drive into traffic and fail.

But the thing is, outside of scoring, which isn’t their prime directive like Haws, Rose has nobody who works as hard at the other stuff than these two Utah County guys.

I remember the last collegiate game Jimmer Fredette played. It was in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament, a double-overtime loss to Florida. Fredette injured his calf muscle just before halftime. After the loss, looking at the box score, the thing that stood out was that Collinsworth, just a freshman, had 16 rebounds.

That’s a number usually posted by a 7-0 center or a bruising 6-8 power forward, a Dennis Rodman kind of freak. But no, it was 16 by this kid from Provo High who was heading on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Russia.

This week, Rose’s team is preparing for a series of league home games, including hosting St. Mary’s on Saturday.

His season has been filled with ups and downs, highs and lows, and a series of almosts.

But through it all, it has been important that Collinsworth and Austin have never shirked the hard stuff inside the key — the things that get you bruised and tired and even hurt.

In somebody’s ledger somewhere, that’s gotta count.

Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at dharmon@desnews.com.

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