Since the Big East season has begun, Rutgers has been the victim of several questionable referee calls.
Against Marquette at home, the Golden Eagles shot almost 3 times as many free throws and benefited from miss travels, and missed charges. There was more of the same while playing Providence. So much so, Mike Coburn drew a technical foul for having a bad "demeanor" after he got called for a personal foul when he was clearly set to take a charge.
So, what does this have to do with building a program?
Find out after the jump...If being a good team is defined by making the NCAAs, then it's been a long time since Rutgers has been good. In fact, this is the TWENTIETH anniversary of the last time Rutgers was any good. And in those twenty years, there have been seasons where Rutgers has been very, very bad (cough...Fred Hill... cough). In fact, you could say there's been a culture of losing around here.
But now, with Mike Rice, Rutgers is making legitimate moves to build a quality program. You can see the difference in the way the teams plays. Tough defense, smart ball movement, and mental intensity. Especially the defense: strong man to man with lots of switching and lots of steals.
The problems is, the refs have never seen this from Rutgers.
In the past four years, the refs have seen a passive zone, a team that waits for their Defensive Player of the Year to block shots, and a hybrid zone. They were never in the others team's face, and they didn't show much fight.
Nearly every other team in the Big East has some sort of successful legacy. Rutgers' legacy is that of losing.
And now that Rutgers appears to be trying to change that, they have to beat two teams. They have to beat the team with a successful legacy: Villanova, Providence, and Marquettte. And they have to beat the team of refs assigned to do the game.
Think about it. You're the ref. You see this brand new Rutgers defense. You see a lot of physicality. You see a lot of frustrated faces on the opposing team, because they may have come to the RAC expecting a cakewalk. Now they're in a dogfight. If you're the ref, you're going to look for fouls.
Because how else could this less than talented team be in a game with a team that has depth and talent?
That's why the fans are seeing a lot of ticky tack calls on Rutgers. They're seeing a home team trying its darnedest to change the culture around them. They're doing what the coach tells them, and they're going to have to face adversity. In fact, until this team starts winning--beating the opposition and the refs--consistently, this is going to continue to happen.
Winning a few games isn't going to cut it. Rutgers doesn't have the legacy that a ref will notice. No team that has to rebuild does. DePaul won't get the benefit of the doubt in the Big East. USF won't either.
Rutgers is going to have to earn it, and it's probably going to take a few years.
But the win against Providence was a start.