Pregame for the St. John's/ Rutgers game - the battle for Hudson dominance?
Thanks to Shawn at On the Banks of the Raritan for answering 5 pertinent questions about the Scarlet Knight game before the matchup with St. John’s tomorrow evening (and see my answers to his questions here).
Make sure to check out the pregame notes on Johnny Jungle later this evening.
1 - Obviously, Rutgers is having another tough year, and the media and fans are talking as if Coach Fred Hill is not long for the head coaching position. Is the change going to happen, in your estimation? Should it happen?
2 - What do the Scarlet Knights do well on the court? What do they do poorly? What will they do the night they get their first Big East win?
Saturday's win over Notre Dame may have quieted the fire Fred Hill talks for a day or two, but unless this team can win most of its remaining games in the Big East and go deep in the conference tournament, Hill is likely gone at the end of the season. I think it is time to part ways with the guy. Nothing personal, but this program needs a shot in the arm. At least the fans do.
You must be a prophet, considering RU won its first Big East game shortly after you sent this question my way. They beat Notre Dame because they played good defense and limited their turnovers. If they can continue to limit their turnovers to 12 or less, they should find themselves in more games come the 10:00 mark in the second half. In their lopsided losses to teams like Villanova, Georgetown, and Marquette, first half turnovers killed them.
Against Notre Dame, RU committed just five turnovers. It also helps when our best player is hot. Mike Rosario scored 18 in the first half against the Irish and finished with a game high 24. In order to win against St. John's will also need another rebounding effort from our guards like we did against Notre Dame. James Beatty and Rosario combined for 16 on Saturday.
3 - Please give us a run down of the Scarlet Knights' best players; or if you can, a rundown of the roster by bigs, wings, and guards.
RU's best player is clearly Rosario. If his shot is on, he can go for some big points. If he is knocking down the three-ball, the floor opens for guys like Dane Miller and Jonathan Mitchell on the wings and Hamady Ndiaye on the interior. Ndiaye had a great game keeping Luke Harangody in check. Ndiaye scored 10 points, blocked six shots, but most importantly played 38 minutes.
If he gets into foul trouble, RU must go with freshmen Brian Okam and Austin Johnson on the inside and they just don't have the experience and toughness at this point. In Saturday night's win, Ndiaye rejected two of Harangody's drives to the rim and he did it with authority. One shot had the potential to tie the game in the final minute. It was an amazing play and all but sealed the win for RU.
Dane Miller is our most athletic player. Just a freshman, Miller can be pretty special on the floor. I love watching Mitchell shoot. He's got a pretty stroke and he seems to be getting a little better with each Big East game.
4 - So what's gone wrong with the Rutgers' program, from the Gary Waters days until now? What does the program need? Is just just a coach? Is the overhaul of the RAC needed?
Great question. Of course the problem transcends Fred Hill, but we're not going to get rid of our entire team. A famous coach would help, but perhaps a guy like Kevin Boyle of St. Patrick is the type of guy the school needs. Boyle's been coaching a high school powerhouse for a long time and has his finger on the pulse of the NJ/NY area like few other high school coaches around. He could likely persuade some of our state's best young talent to come to RU and help move the program around.
A renovation of the RAC could fill more seats at higher ticket prices and an updated facility for the players will likely be more attractive to potential recruits, but I think the school will only get the most out of this project if it comes with a high-profile hiring.
5 - And what about this whole moving to the Big Ten thing? Could that happen as well?
I hope not. The Big East is the best basketball conference in the nation. Sure, RU is more of a football school right now and the Big Ten may make more sense from a pigskin standpoint, but I'm not in favor.