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."

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