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Big East Preview 10, Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Posted on: November 5, 2008 2:00 pm
 
Certainly it will be a stiff battle for Rutgers in conference, perhaps less so with (aside from UNC) a reasonably easy set of ooc games.  There isn't anything to say to change the fact that they are in a difficult position.  Still, with last year's last place finish, there is room only for improvement, and there are some bright spots.  I'm unsure if they are bright enough to say great things for the program, but I think a lot of the future will turn on this season.  How big a step are they poised to take?
2007-2008
Results:

11-20 Overall, 3-15 Big East (16th)
No postseason

Roster:

Thomas Askew
Corey Chandler        G
Mike Coburn              G
Anthony Farmer        G
Kofi Genfi                   F
Jaron Griffin             G/F
JR Inman                   F
Byron Joynes
Courtney Nelson
Hamady N'diaye       C
Earl Pettis                 G/F
Charlie Rigoglioso  
Justin Sofman          G/F


2008-2009
Departures:

Askew, Joynes, Nelson, Sofman

In terms of points and rebounds they really aren't losing much.  There is nowhere to go but up, and returning most of their players, includin Inman, Chandler, and Farmer will go a long way toward realizing a few more wins.

Arrivals:

Austin Johnson        F
Greg Echenique      C
Patrick Jackson       F
Christian Morris      C
Mike Rosario           G
Tomasz Kokosiski  F
Mike Kuhn                G

This class is certainly deep (in fact, the math doesn't seem to add up.  I'm assuming someone's a walk-on).  Echenique is the prize, but Rosario should help out the backcourt right away.  It looks like the Knights might have something of an inside presence, which along with the sheer number of recruits and added experience of the returning players should make a difference.

The Schedule:

Nonconference Games:  Marist, Delaware, Robert Morris, Saint Bonaventure, Lehigh, St. Peter's, Rider, Binghamton, Princeton, Delaware State, Bryant, NJIT, North Carolina

Well, North Carolina looks like the only unwinnable game there.  I expect Rutgers to lose one or two more as well, because they aren't so good that they'll storm through, but there is room to maybe match last year's 11 wins before conference play even starts.  I had thought Rutgers was supposed to play in the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament...does anyone know what happened there? 

Two Time Opponents:  Providence, Syracuse, Seton Hall

Two of those opponents are better teams than Rutgers (and the third is debatable) but none of them are real powerhouses (although Syracuse is probably top 25 material).

Remaining Roadies:  Connecticut, Cincinnati, St. John's, Georgetown, Villanova, Notre Dame

Home Games:  Pittsburgh, Marquette, Louisville, DePaul, West Virginia, South Florida

Even though the conference overall is better, Rutgers wasn't nailed with an awful schedule through it.  The bottom of the league is worse around them, so they should improve on last year's three wins.  How much is an open question.

The Outlook

Best Case Scenario:
         The returning players step up their game a bit, having learned together and grown together.  Echenique gives them enough in the paint to beat the lesser BE team and even hang with a couple of the heavyweights.  Rosario gives them enough backcourt help to really ramp up the scoring.  The rest of the recruiting class finds its role, providing an influx of talent and depth.  Rutgers screams through the ooc schedule, losing only to North Carolina and improving on last season's 11 wins already.  The improvements lead to 6 or 8 Big East wins, and a surprise finish in the top 10, upsetting Cincinnati, Providence, or both.  This finish puts them in a position to pick up a win in the BE tournament, and that win lets them hit 20 and get to the NIT.

Worst Case Scenario:
    While the three returning players who averaged double figures continue to produce, the large freshman class isn't really ready to go when the season opens.  While they find their way, the Scarlet Knights lose 5 or 6 nonconference games, putting them in a difficult position.  They begin a tough opening to Big East play by losing their first six games there, and are only able to pick up 4 or 5 conference wins.  Still, they shouldn't finish in last place even with their worst effort.

My Take:
      The players who are leaving were, well...terrible.  All of the decent players return, and the new recruiting class consists of seven players, two of them 4-star recruits.  THIS Rutgers team is clearly better than THAT Rutgers team.  Some of the bottom teams in the league are worse than last year's version, as well.  So, the Scarlet Knights WILL win more games than last year, and almost certainly won't finish in last place.  Still, a bunch of decent freshmen doesn't stack up to the competition.  There isn't much room for Rutgers to move up the standings.  I believe an 11th-13th place finish is the most likely, with Cincy's roster losses changing from the 12th-14th place projection I would have made.  It is still a little bleak for Rutgers fans, but this year will be a step in the right direction, and if they snag Dominic Cheek for the '09 class they could be pretty decent the following season.
Category: NCAAB
Comments

Since: Jan 15, 2007
Posted on: November 8, 2008 7:34 pm
 

Big East Preview 10, Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Hey, thanks for the extra info.

Yeah, I probably overstated myself a little with the 11 wins ooc prediction.  I sort of applied my expectations for a lot of other BE teams to Rutgers when looking at a kind of soft nonconference schedule.  I guess it isn't that soft for the noncontending teams.

I think Rutgers is a bit on the rise, with a chance to finish in the top half in a year or two.  Right now, though, they're a decent team buried in a much more than decent league.  If you played in the Sun Belt or something you might have a shot at the NCAAs.



Since: Dec 1, 2006
Posted on: November 7, 2008 2:18 pm
 

Big East Preview 10, Rutgers Scarlet Knights

I actually think it's a pretty fair evaluation. I do think that you're a little optimistic about the matching the 11 wins before conference play, simply because this is a team that lost to or struggled with many of the opponents we play this year.

We probably won't beat Delaware, we probably won't beat Marist, and UNC is a given. I thought we would beat St. Peter's, but they really spanked us, so we can't expect to win that one.
The only games I think we can count on winning are Rider (they lost Jason Thompson to the NBA, and nobody else really impressed me from that team) and NJIT. Every other game we probably should win, but could realistically lose.
In conference, there's no reason we shouldn't beat Seton Hall twice, Providence once, and South Florida. Other than that, though, we could legitimately lose every other game.

The major problem I see with our team is that, yes, we're very talented this year, but it's very young talent. Six months ago, arguably our best player (Greg Echenique) thought he'd be a senior in high school right now.

Realistically, I expect around 14 or 15 wins. If we get 6 in conference, that'd be awesome, and a win or two in the conference tourney is certainly possible, depending on how the seeding lines up.
By the way, as far as I know, Kofi Genfi, Charlie Rigoglioso, Thomasz Kokosiski and Mike Kuhn aren't on scholarship. We have a couple open scholarships this season. That's why the numbers don't seem to add up.
And to answer your question, yes, we were originally slated for the Coaches vs Cancer tourney, but we instead decided to host the Garden State Challenge with Delaware.



Since: Jan 15, 2007
Posted on: November 6, 2008 9:43 am
 

Big East Preview 10, Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Haha...that's why this one took so much longer.  That and the fact I had to find their athletic site's archives and dig up last year's stats since the sites I was using before got around to updating the rosters.  That's also why Seton Hall isn't up yet, like I said it would be.



Since: Feb 19, 2008
Posted on: November 6, 2008 1:37 am
 

Big East Preview 10, Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Nice Review. I didn't think I could learn that much from looking at a RUTGERS baketball preview...


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