Evans finding rebounding success with Nets

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Evans finding rebounding success with Nets

BOSTON Reggie Evans attacks the game of basketball with the kind of ferocious intensity you often find on the football field.
Growing up in a football-rich environment in Florida, Evans once had visions of gridiron grandeur.
But as a youth, Evans never had a chance because he was too heavy for his age group to play youth football.
"I was very frustrated," Evans said. "I used to have a friend, one of my home boys Nut-nut. He was bigger than me. More wide, more heavier than me. And he used to make it. And I didn't. I used to run with a garbage bag over me, try and sweat it out."
When that didn't work, Evans decided to stick to basketball.
And since then, the 6-foot-8 forward has been throwing his weight around, and is among the many reasons why the Brooklyn Nets have emerged as one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference this season.
You talk about impact players off the bench?
Evans is averaging a team-best 8.5 rebounds per game for the Nets despite playing just 18 minutes a night, the kind of production that should garner Sixth Man of the Year consideration if he can maintain that level of play throughout the season.
"He reminds me of a young Dennis Rodman," former Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal said on TNT after the Nets defeated the New York Knicks in overtime on Monday. "He gets every rebound, doesn't want to shoot and doesn't want to score."
Getting to the root of Evans' rebounding success isn't easy. That's because on so many levels, what he does can't be quantified by X's and O's.
"Nobody is going to confuse him with being a great player," said one Eastern Conference scout. "But he has one skill, rebounding, and he does as good as anyone in the league."
Actually, Evans is the league's best rebounder with his rebounds per 48 minutes rate of 22.1. The only other player with 20 or more per 48 minutes Cleveland's Anderson Varejao.
Although Evans did average a double-double in junior college as well as at Iowa, it was clear early on that his greatest impact at this level would be on the boards.
In Seattle (now Oklahoma City), Evans said this point was driven home to him by then-Sonics (now they're called the Thunder) coach Nate McMillan.
"He was telling me what he needed me to do for the team and we got scorers and stuff," Evans told CSNNE.com. "I averaged a double-double in college, but coach said, 'I just need you to do this. If you listen to me, you won't have anything to worry about.'"
McMillan pointed to the fact that despite him not being a go-to guy during his playing career or a big-time scorer, he still managed to have his jersey hung in the rafters.
"So I listened to my coach," Evans said. "He was talking to me and looking at me eye-to-eye and I felt it was real. I followed his direction and I didn't change at all."
And the Nets aren't looking for him to change, either.
He provides them with the kind of physical play and muscle that when you look at teams with deep playoff run aspirations, most if not all possess a player or two with that skill.
"Reggie's a big part of what we're trying to do here," Nets guard Jerry Stackhouse told CSNNE.com recently. "For us to have the kind of success I know we're capable of, it's going to take all of us."

Curran's Sunday 4-pack: So, what HAS Tom Brady been up to?

Curran's Sunday 4-pack: So, what HAS Tom Brady been up to?

Six days – four quarters of football – remain in Tom Brady’s four-game suspension.
 
The fact is the Patriots are 3-0 and have gotten a long – and enjoyable – look at their quarterback depth behind Brady. Brady, meanwhile, has gotten a chance to shave one-quarter off the season-long wear-and-tear he takes.
 
But highlighting silver linings and pointing out there’s not much sand left in the suspension hourglass is no real consolation. Said one team source Thursday night, “It’s never going to go away.”
 
What’s Brady been up to? Mixing family time and working out. He’s routinely spent four hours a day training, I’m told, presumably with his body coach Alex Guerrero at TB12 Sports Performance at Patriot Place. Also, aside from his Sunday session with Wes Welker, Brady’s been throwing to young college players at undisclosed locations, eschewing the opportunity to bring in some of the “name” former players who’ve reached out and offered their services.
 
Spotted in Italy with wife Gisele Bundchen last week, Brady’s also been back home in San Mateo visiting with his family.
 
Speaking to two people close to him, I was told he succeeded in making peace with the time off and avoiding the creep of too much bitterness. I was also told he’s unbelievably motivated to return at a high level and wants his transition back to be seamless in terms of performance and conditioning. That last part is, of course, to be expected. But it will be interesting to see how Brady does perform out of the gates after a month’s forced exile.
 
NINKOVICH RETURNS, TOO

The lesser of the two suspended prodigal sons set to return next week – Rob Ninkovich – is no doubt going to benefit physically from the quarter-season vacation as well. And the defensive ends who’ve performed well in his absence – Jabaal Sheard and especially Chris Long – will do well to have Ninkovich back in the mix. Mention should also be made of Trey Flowers who has shown up in opponent’s backfields on a weekly basis. It depends on what your personal cup of tea might be, but through three games, Long seems to me a much better defensive fit for this team than Chandler Jones. Jones was the more explosive pass-rusher but Long’s ability in the running game, and his play-in, play-out impact in applying pressure on the tackle in front of him makes it seem so far as if he’s an upgrade.
 
NEW DEALS AHEAD?
 
Still no word on which Patriot may be in line for a new deal since the team restructured Devin McCourty and freed up some cap space.

Donta Hightower, Malcolm Butler and Jamie Collins have been seen as the most likely targets for extensions and a redo of Hightower at this point would whittle down his $7M cap number and possibly allow another extension to be executed for either Collins or Butler, as our Phil Perry pointed out.  Jabaal Sheard, meanwhile, is the Patriot who flies under the radar when extension talk starts. He may be every bit as important to the success of the Patriots defense as the other three.
 
REX WRECKS
 
The Bills are 0-2, the natives are beyond restless in Buffalo and the Cardinals are in Western New York on Sunday. The Bills are expected to play without wide receiver Sammy Watkins and are a team staring into the esophagus of 0-3 with a visit to the Patriots coming next week. Have a gander at the Bills Mailbag in the Buffalo News.  Seems like years since Rex was all giddy about the paint job on his new truck. It was less than 19 months ago.