When the schedule was finalized (because it took the NIT FOREVER to release the brackets), Eddie Jordan had to circle the next two weeks on his calendar. The Scarlet Knights have a chance (by getting to MSG to face Arizona and-potentially-Duke) to make a mark on their resume. They were given the most difficult path to the Garden however, facing the deceptively tough Canisius and then the winner of Drexel/Elon. Both are not pushovers. In fact, Drexel is a tough out.
Jordan has a tough task ahead of him. The team has to play back-to-back nights against talented opponents. At the same time, he once again enters the scene as Rutgers aches from another embarrassing scandal. Win the next two and bring some excitement back to the banks. Lose and it's more of the same old, same old.
That begins by not overlooking the Golden Griffins.
1. Continue to Push the Tempo: Canisius gives up 76 points per game, while Rutgers has averaged 80. Needless to say, Rutgers strength so far this year has been its offense. And Canisius, it appears, can't stop anybody. Rutgers can't be shy here. Run early, run often. Get to the line. Feed Kadeem Jack. Put up points.
2. Rebound the Ball: It's been the bugaboo, so far, although Rutgers managed to outrebound a Yale team that outrebounded UConn. Box out, secure the ball, then get out and run. Canisius can't be given second chances.
3. Contain Billy Baron: Let's be a little more specific than just "Play Defense." Billy Baron is the Golden Griffins man. The Rhode Island transfer is averaging 25 points per game while playing 38 minutes. He shoots 45.5% from three and 91% from the line. He is a weapon, and Rutgers is going to have to show some different looks at him. The press isn't going to work, because he and his teammates are going to want to push as much as Rutgers does. But against Yale, in the final 8 minutes, Rutgers only gave up 1 field goal. This team can lock down when it puts its mind to it. It needs to.
4. Get Out With a Win: While this is a tough team, Rutgers should be able to handle them. The fanbase, however, might not be able to handle a loss. Losing this game will be embarrassing and force Rutgers to finish out the rest of the pre-season NIT at the RAC. Losing to Drexel, who can stop people, would be a little more understandable, but tomorrow, Rutgers needs the W.