The Dallas Mavericks hope some of the rebounding issues that have plagued them this season will be solved with the return of forward Al-Farouq Aminu.
After missing the previous two games with a sprained left shoulder, Aminu (6-foot-9, 220 pounds) was back Wednesday against the Orlando Magic. Aminu entered the game averaging 5.4 points and 4.1 rebounds.
“He’s probably, pound for pound, as good a rebounder as we have,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “You take him into the equation and it has helped us.”
Still, Carlisle knows the Mavs need others to do their fair share of board work.
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“We’ve got to keep preaching it, we’ve got to keep selling it,” he said. “We do morning shootaround drills where we do two or three block-outs in a row.
“Not to where we’re banging and killing each other. Just reminders to go put a body on somebody.”
Carlisle is not only asking the inside players to be more active on the boards.
“We’ve got to keep getting the guards more involved,” he said. “When our guards combine for 10 or more rebounds, that’s a game-changer for us.”
Carlisle praises Brown
Carlisle tossed a bouquet toward SMU coach Larry Brown, who has the Mustangs in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1993.
“He’s been a game changer for like his whole career,” Carlisle said of Brown. “Just about every place he goes things get better exponentially.
“That was a very challenging situation over there and they got it turned around very quickly.”
Brown is the only coach to win an NCAA and an NBA title. He coached Kansas to the 1988 championship and led Detroit to the 2004 NBA championship in his first season replacing Carlisle as the Pistons’ coach.
“You’re talking about one of the all-time great coaches in the history of this game,” Carlisle said. “I’m not surprised by what he’s done.
“Some people may be. But it’s important to know that it is not to be overlooked and it’s something that’s pretty significant.”
SMU opens the tournament at 2:10 p.m. Thursday against UCLA, which Brown led to the 1980 national championship game before losing to Louisville 59-54.
Young at heart
Mavericks assistant coach Darrell Armstrong went up against his old team Wednesday in the Orlando Magic. Armstrong played for the Magic from 1995-2003 and is considered a legend in that part of the country.
Carlisle said Armstrong, who turns 47 on June 22, can still hold his own against current NBA players.
“I brought him in as an energetic guy who knows the game and is the kind of guy any organization would want on the floor working with players,” Carlisle said. “The great thing about Darrell is I’m not sure how old he is, but he still gets out on the floor.
“He plays in pickup games with your guys when we need an extra guy — he’s still very competitive. My joke I have with Darrell is I’m trying to prolong his playing career until he’s 60.”
Guard Devin Harris, who played at Wisconsin from 2001-04, quite naturally has his college team doing very well in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
“I’ve got them going to the Final Four,” Harris said. “But anything can happen.”
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760