JacksonThe shot goes up and bounces off the basket into mid air. Hands reach drastically for the ball and the crowd yells “rebound.”

Jasmine Jackson, sophomore guard, and Tylar Hartfield, junior forward, are dominating the boards for the Lady Builders.

The two lead their team in rebounds—both are individually ranked in the conference in rebounds, and in the nation with offensive rebounds. Jackson is No. 41 in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Division II in offensive rebounds. Hartfield is ranked No. 27 for offensive rebounds per game, No. 35 total rebounds per game, and No. 49 for defensive rebounds per game.

To top it off, their combined efforts help the women’s basketball team to be ranked in the top 10  in the nation in offensive rebounds. The 15-5 Lady Builders have been ranked as high as No. 4 during the season in offensive rebounds per game.

Dave Denly, head women’s basketball coach said, “You look at it and a lot of rebounders over the years, whether it’s men or women, it’s not necessarily the most athletic kid, it’s not necessarily the kid who’s the biggest, it’s just the kid who has a knack for going and getting the ball. Obviously Jasmine and Tylar both have a lot of athletic ability. They both jump very well, and do some things. You still have to put yourself in the right position, and you still have to go get the basketball.  It’s not just going to come to you.”

Jackson doesn’t even know how many rebounds she has in her career. Hartfield, however, will tell you about Jackson’s school record in the game against Kansas Wesleyan when she had 25.

Denly said, “Those two are pursuers. They’re not necessarily kids that stake claim to an area. Both those kids are more of the movement type of rebounder where they’re just kind of flowing, using areas, and different angles to go get the ball.”

Being competitively driven to jump for the ball has yet to lead to a tussle between the two over who will get it. Hartfield said, “Like whoever is there to get it then that’s who gets it. We haven’t had one of those moments yet, where we end up snatching the ball from each other. I’m waiting for that to come though.”

It is not just a matter of rebounding for the two. Hartfield leads the team in total rebounds with 171, with Jackson coming just behind her with 115, but Jackson also leads the team and conference in steals with 55 and is placed 33rd in the nation with that number.

Jackson said, “As a team we feed off our defense. That’s probably why we are so good defensively.” She said the team is not even as good as they could be right now. “We still have so much more to grow, so much more to gain.”        

Hartfield agreed. She said, “A lot of the energy that we have as far as our starting five comes from Jaz because she’s at the top of the press. She is always working hard, so I feed off her energy. I think I focus on the game more than rebounds because rebounds just come naturally to you. So I focus more on the game.”

Denly said, “I think our identity is revolved more around defense this year. I think we have bought into, the whole team has bought into the fact that we could be pretty good defensively, and it shows.  Obviously you’ve got to be able to do both. Our offense has gotten better over the last month, which is related to us playing better. But there’s no question that we rely a lot on our defense to get us going and create some offense off of that.”  

                The leaders share credit for the Builders’ 8-2 conference record with the rest of the team. “Jasmine Manuel is a great shooter. She has a really good consistent shot. We get to finally run the floor and push the ball up the floor like we have wanted to do. And this team this year, is the team to go all the way,” Hartfield said.

Hartfield and Jackson are focused on making themselves better this season.

Hartfield ended her first collegiate year by being named to the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference All-Freshman and Honorable Mention teams in 2008, but spent last season watching from the bench with a torn ACL. Hartfield said, “I just want to show other people, other coaches in the league, and the fans that I’m still that good of a player that I was my freshman year.”

Neither pays much attention to the national stats or rankings, even though both are ranked in their different aspects of the game. “If the coaches post them I’ll glance at it and look at it. Other than that I try not to pay attention. Most of the national ranking is based on last year season anyway. So this season the team can’t be that good. So you never really know,” Hartfield said.

                Jackson agreed. “I think it’s just ink.”

Both talent and hard work have combined to help these two control the boards. Still sometimes, they admitted, they rely on a fundamental basketball strategy. Hartfield said, “A lot of the time I get all my rebounds from being lazy because I don’t like to play defense. I’m tired so I just get the rebound.”