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Rutgers Basketball Mid-Season Check In

Something about a sleeping giant, or whatever

Coppin State v Rutgers Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

As the B1G turns the page into conference play, let’s check in with the Scarlet Knights and see if we can peer through the crystal ball to determine if this is an NCAA tournament team, again.

Coming off holiday leave, the RU in VA family crew took in the Rutgers v. Coppin State game at the RAC/Jersey Mike’s Arena. No one’s going to claim the place is Cameron Indoor, but there were very few open seats for an 8 PM Friday tip off against a team where the majority of fans couldn’t tell you where they were even from (note, Coppin State is in Baltimore). Not a close matchup - Sam Sessoms was the only player with any sort of life on the CSU team. But as we know from his time at Penn State, Sam is about 6’1” on a good day and Rutgers can trot out several lineups that average over 6’6”. Curious decision by the CSU coaching staff to let them jack up 31 3-Pointers (made 6). It backfired and the Knights had a 51 point first half.

The real takeaway is that the RAC is still there, still stupidly loud, and still packed. The fans and students are ready for another run. I’m not sure the building can survive another Cliff Omoruyi alley-oop to seal a game against a ranked team. Or the guy, who my 7 year old describes: “THE REALLY TALL GUY THAT FOULS A LOT”.

Game reviews so far:

Columbia, Sacred Heart, UMass Lowell (W,W,W): Tune up games, which were actually needed. Reminder, Paul Mulcahy was out for a majority of the early season and this helped.

Temple (L): I wrote at the time that this loss wouldn’t be that bad, since Temple will end as a Quad 2. Temple has since made me a moron by being a dice roll win/loss all over the AAC/Noncon. Game 1 of “we don’t know what to do with the ball upcourt without the headband guy”.

Rider/Central CT State (W,W): It really sucks that there aren’t more regional competitive rivalries with the Knights.

Miami (L): Game 2 of “we don’t know what to do with the ball upcourt without the headband guy”. With Mulcahy still out and Cam Spencer going absolutely frigid (35 mins/3 Points), Miami was able to squeak out a win at home coming back from 11 down at half.

Note - you usually don’t see this in college basketball because of the contact versus fouls being lower than the NBA (or higher levels for you Euro fans), but only getting 6 personal foul calls while almost getting 40 boards is a little weird. Then again, it’s Miami, and someone probably had money on the game.

Indiana (W): THE RETURN OF THE HEADBAND. The story of this game was two things:

Race Thompson putting up a goose egg for points (maybe he was going for the Trillion?).

Derek Simpson dropping 14 and starting to come into his own, rather than “the guy that wears 0 like Geo Baker and plays exactly like him so it must be a replacement”.

Indiana looks woefully thin if TJD isn’t dropping a double-double and Kopp doesn’t have more than 4 or 5 3’s.

Ohio State (SHOULD HAVE BEEN A W): Yeah, lets forget this one. Basketball is the same as football - you can’t be the first person to touch the ball when coming back inbounds from out-of-bounds.

It’s never called in basketball BECAUSE when a player exits the boundary, usually another player is actively dribbling/holding the ball, making them the first person touching the ball. But in this case, the pass was actively in the air when the OSU player came inbounds and established himself, making him the first to touch it. This isn’t the best TED talk since the referees already came out and did the Surrender Cobra, but I hope this helps the weirdly large amount of new Ohio State basketball rules expert fans that came out of the woodwork after this one.

Seton Hall (L): Rock fight. Beat Rutgers at its own rebounding game. Shit, regional competitive rivalry.

Wake Forest (W): This demolishing is certainly going to look better with time - the opposite of the Temple loss. Smacking Wake by 24, while Wake now has wins over Duke, Wisconsin, and Georgia (Go look, Georgia isn’t that bad!), is going to be a solid OOC Quad 1/2 win.

Bucknell/Coppin State (W,W): Just more taking care of business. Cam Spencer is REALLY rounding the corner to be an effective scorer and getting his three point range dialed in. Going to be a fun player to watch down the stretch of the B1G schedule.

And now we head into a matchup with #1 Purdue at Mackey Arena - tonight at 7:00 PM.

If Rutgers wins, I wouldn’t be completely surprised. But if they lose by 25, I also wouldn’t be surprised.

If you enjoy college basketball, it’s a must-watch. Rutgers has all the tools to limit Zach Edey on the offensive end, but must do so while also running red hot shooters like Fletcher Loyer off the line and forcing either bad 3-pt looks or forced field goals inside the arc. They certainly have the tools to do it, they just have to plug them in.

(note, I wrote and scheduled this post BEFORE the game).