When coaches and commentators discuss how important rebounding is to winning games, the general understanding is that it is a task for the big guys and the guards will help out. For this season's 7DAYS EuroCup champion, at times one of the smallest men on the court became the most important rebounder.
Marcos Knight led AS Monaco with 3.8 defensive rebounds per game, set a EuroCup Finals record with 10 defensive boards in Game 2 of his team's sweep of UNICS Kazan and helped his team triumph in both finals games with decisive rebounds.
"Rebounding is all about... wanting it more than anybody else."
Knight's rebounding mindset was instilled in him early as a player by his coaches. Just as much as rebounding is about positioning and boxing out, it's also about toughness and desire: "It is all about wanting to do it, wanting it more than anybody else... I think great guards always rebound, and it is something I definitely enjoy," he said.
That toughness came into play this season in many ways in addition to rebounding. Monaco coach Zvezdan Mitrovic credited Knight's toughness on defense as one of the keys to the team's success in a recent interview.
"Marcos is one of the MVP players in this EuroCup season. It is not only rebounds and numbers - we are an undersized team and since the quarterfinals, all teams started to play attacking us in the low post in position '3' because Marcos is a great player, but he is only 1.88 meters," Mitrovic explained. "Buducnost did that with Melvin Ejim, Gran Canaria did it with Beiran but these good post-up players could not find any advantages there, and for me, this was huge."
Knight pulled down the two most decisive rebounds of the 2021 EuroCup Finals – one in each game. Monaco grabbed only 6 offensive rebounds in the first 39 minutes of Game 1, but got 3 in the final seconds. The last one settled in the hands of Knight, who was fouled, went to the line and made 2 free throws for an 88-87 lead. Monaco ended up winning 89-87 and Knight finished with a game-high 6 boards.
"I just wanted to do anything to help my teammates win and that was part of it, getting that rebound and securing that possession. That was part of us being able to be the EuroCup champions in 2021," Knight said. "After the rebound, I had to stay focused, lock in, and make 2 free throws. One second can change the game, so you have to stay focused and locked in the entire game until the clock says zero."
"It is a blessing to being able to be a part of such a historic run."
In Game 2, J.J. O'Brien gave Monaco an 83-84 lead with 10 seconds left. UNICS called timeout to set up a play and Jamar Smith missed from downtown. Knight rose higher than anybody else to pull down his 10th defensive rebound, which set the EuroCup Finals record, besting JaJuan Johnson of Darussafaka Istanbul and Chuck Eidson of UNICS Kazan, who shared the previous record with 9 defensive rebounds in 2018 and 2014, respectively. His 12 boards also matched the EuroCup Finals record held by Alen Omic of Unicaja Malaga (2017) and Lazaros Papadopoulos and Antonis Fotsis of Dynamo Moscow (2006). Knight finished the EuroCup Finals with 18 rebounds. The next closest player was John Brown of UNICS with 13.
After the rebound, Knight drew a foul and made 2 free-throw attempts with as much cold blood as he showed in Game 1. When the dust settled, Monaco was the new EuroCup champion. Knight kept the game ball - a present for his son - and this time he was able to celebrate.
"It is a blessing. I always said I couldn't do anything without God, my family, and my teammates. It is a blessing to being able to be a part of such a historic run," Knight said. "It is the first time that Monaco won a EuroCup championship. I am definitely humbled and blessed. And being able to experience that, for me, it is not about winning the EuroCup title, I want more. I want to win more and that is something that is always in the back of my mind: winning more."