Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Aminu owns boards in ACC
Wake Forest post player Al-Farouq Aminu poses a hefty challenge for Virginia Tech tonight.
Courtesy BRIAN WESTERHOLT
Sports On Film Wake Forest's Al-Farouq Aminu has gained 15 pounds since last season, helping him emerge as the ACC's rebounding leader.
Virginia Tech Hokies basketball
Tonight's game at Cassell Coliseum won't just feature the leading scorer in the ACC.
The leading rebounder will be there, too.
Wake Forest's Al-Farouq Aminu, who is descended from a line of Nigerian kings, rules the boards in the conference.
The 6-foot-9, 215-pound sophomore averages a double-double, ranking seventh in the league in scoring (16.5 ppg) and first in rebounding (10.9 rpg). The power forward could become the first Demon Deacon to lead the ACC in rebounding since Tim Duncan 13 years ago.
"Some kids will get boxed out, they'll get hit and then they'll stop. He gives multiple efforts on the glass," Wake coach Dino Gaudio said Monday. "He doesn't have obviously a physique that you look at and fear, but ... [if he gets] an elbow in the chest or in the face, he just keeps playing. He plays through stuff, and I think that's why he's as good a rebounder as he is."
Wake Forest (18-5, 8-3), which cracked the Associated Press Top 25 poll for the first time this season at No. 23 on Monday, visits Virginia Tech at 7 tonight in a game that will air on ESPN2.
Two standouts on Wake's 2009 NCAA tournament team, point guard Jeff Teague and forward James Johnson, were chosen in the first round of the NBA Draft last June. The Demon Deacons were picked only sixth in the ACC preseason media poll last fall but enter tonight's game in second place.
"Everybody was telling us, 'Oh, y'all don't have Jeff and James, so y'all going to be busts,' " Aminu said. "Everybody took it personal and worked on their game real hard ... and basically kind of had like a chip on their shoulder."
The Demon Deacons not only feature Aminu and standout point guard Ishmael Smith, but also 7-foot center Chas McFarland and 6-11 backups David Weaver and Tony Woods.
"I know the NBA's on All-Star break. We probably should bring a couple guys in to simulate their length," Hokies coach Seth Greenberg said.
Aminu isn't the only strong rebounder on his team, which could be trouble for the Hokies (20-4, 7-3). Tech boasts the league's top scorer, Malcolm Delaney, but has been outrebounded in seven ACC games, including the past four.
Aminu leads the league in offensive rebounds (4.2 rpg), defensive rebounds (6.7 rpg) and double-doubles (15). He had 19 points, 10 rebounds and four steals in last weekend's win over Georgia Tech.
"He runs the floor like a deer and he rebounds every missed shot," Greenberg said. "He's so quick. He's so long. He can finish around the basket in a heartbeat. He's got great hands. He reminds me a little bit of Jeff [Allen] on the defensive end -- he has the ability to knock balls away."
Aminu made the ACC all-freshman team last season, when he averaged 12.9 points and 8.2 rebounds. After gaining 15 pounds in the offseason, he is tied for ninth in Division I in rebounding this year.
"Because I'm stronger this year, I'm able to grab [rebounds] and actually keep them," he said. It helps with "trying to get position on the boards, as well as when somebody hits you, being able to take it and keep going to the boards."
Gaudio said Aminu has more confidence in his jump shot this season, and stays after practice to work on it. He sank two 3-pointers in last weekend's win.
Aminu's older brother, Alade, was a senior at Georgia Tech last season and now plays in the NBA Development League. Aminu picked Wake over the Yellow Jackets because he didn't want to be in his brother's shadow.
Aminu was born and raised in Georgia. His father was born in Nigeria, while his mother was born in Queens, N.Y.
The forward's first name is Nigerian for "the chief has arrived."
"Growing up, Al-Farouq and Alade were not the most common names," Aminu said. "I remember us wanting to change them ... to regular names. So [their father] would sit us down and tell us what our names meant. He would tell us about where we came from and stuff like that, and kind of made us proud that our names were different."
He can be proud of his game as well as his name.