What makes you think you're qualified to write about Rutgers?
Good question. I...watched a Rutgers game this year. This happened:
So, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say Northwestern was marginally better than Rutgers in 2013-14. That qualifies me. Dissenters will be left on the wrong side of a bridge in Fort Lee.
Gimme some basic stats on Rutgers.
A please would be nice. Anyways:
|166||12-21||5-13||105.7 (145)||106.3 (201)||68.7 (70)|
Those 5 conference wins came against American Athletic Conference luminaries Temple (1), Central Florida (1), Houston (1), and South Florida (2), along with another win over South Florida. Houston is the highest-ranked Kenpom team of those, at a whopping 125. In fact, Rutgers' highest win was over Kenpom #122 Canisius. The Golden Griffins. Goodness. On the flipside, the Scarlet Knights lost to #280 Fairleigh Dickinson. They looked every part of the Kenpom #166 team they were.
|35.4 (143rd)||12.7 (172nd)||42.6 (260th)|
The Scarlet Knights pushed the pace, led by the rhyming tandem of junior guard Myles Mack and junior stretch power forward Kadeem Jack (Mack'n'Jack!), who averaged 14.9 and 14.3 points, respectively. They ran, finishing in the top 20% of adjusted tempo, but shot at a miserable clip. Mack led the team in assists, with 4.3 per game, while Jack led the team in boards with 6.8 per game. Mack'n'Jack make up an effective 1-2 punch for the Scarlet Knights against lesser competition, but when they disappeared from games, Rutgers struggled.
So what went wrong?
Everything. A team still under fire from the Mike Rice debacle saw Eddie Jordan named in a lawsuit against Rutgers. Role players Jerome Seagears and D'Von Campbell announced that they would transfer. Add in the struggle to attract Top 100 talent to Piscataway, the graduation of 3rd- and 4th-highest scorers J.J. Moore and Wally Judge, and three available scholarships. There's a lot of work to be done at Rutgers, and Eddie Jordan is burning it down and starting from scratch. On the Banks, SBNation's excellent Rutgers blog, covered as much in their podcast on Eddie Jordan's Red Wedding.
Apparently that's some sort of pop culture reference. Anyways.
Northwestern had one tie to Rutgers while I attended, as former head coach Fred Hill was Bill Carmody's right-hand man in recruiting the East Coast and landing Jaren Sina, now with Hill at Seton Hall. Hill, as OTB's Dave White described, represented one awful decision after another in a terrible decade for Rutgers basketball. But thanks, Rutgers, for making Welsh-Ryan NOT the smallest venue in the B1G!
Give me something to be optimistic about.
- Big Ten money.
- Mack'n'Jack in the B1G, with the opportunity get out and run.
- Eddie Jordan isn't tolerating poor play from his squad. This may not mean much in the short team, but Jordan shows signs of demanding a culture of hard work and effort in Piscataway. He reminds me much of a Pat Chambers at Penn State, with a vaguely similar talent pool.
- Speaking of talent pool, Rutgers has a host of 3-star recruits coming in from up and down the East Coast. While the list is encouraging and reminiscent of Northwestern or Penn State's in an average year, size may eventually become a concern for the Scarlet Knights.
- The Newark airport is lovely.
So how does Year 1 in the B1G go?
Honestly? Probably poorly. Mack'n'Jack may be able to run the Scarlet Knights to a couple victories over teams like Penn State, Northwestern, or Purdue, but Rutgers looks to be playing the long game with Eddie Jordan. Assuming he gets the chance to build a program, Julie Hermann stays out of the program's way, and those big fat stacks of Big Ten cash (h/t The Common Man) help stabilize the program, Rutgers could challenge for mid-tier status by the 2015-16 or 2016-17 season. But this is Rutgers, and there's a decade of history running contrary to that assumption. The task remains monumental, and the optimism runs low around Scarlet Knights basketball.