Rutgers didn't come out sleeping this time.
At least, Mike Rice didn't. Offensively, the Scarlet Knights attacked FDU's zone and built up a lead that kept growing and then slipping. At one point, Rice screamed at James Beatty, who went right back at the coach. Beatty sat for a possession, but was right back in the game.
And, judging by postgame quotes, it's clear Rice isn't sure they're ready.
More after the jump...Jonathan Mitchell had a loud 22 points, including 17 in the first half. He went 7-8 from the field in that half. Dane Miller scored 13 and missed his 3rd straight double double by 2 rebounds. Biruta and Coburn had solid games as well. The offense clicked, as Rutgers recorded 22 assists--the most for the Scarlet Knights in five years.
The team came out and played hard from the tip, but as the lead built, RU took its foot off the gas. The game was never in doubt, but Mike Rice stomped along the sideline. He screamed, he yelled, he pleaded. RU built the lead back up. Then it would slip away.
Rice even got his first technical of the game. It's clear from the linked press conference, Rice isn't sure the team is ready for the Big East season. And, with only 2 games to go before UNC, and then conference play, he needed to fire a warning shot.
It's possible the Knights keep falling into old habits as they built their lead. They seem to be a step slow, and want to let the team back in it. And in this behemoth conference, that's not going to work. The coach is calling the Big East their Final Exam... and there are only a few tests left before it starts.
FDU was as good at time as any to read them the riot act.
The team plays at Monmouth on Saturday.