The Fallacy of the Quick Hoops Rebuild

Rich Schultz

The Familiar Refrain.

"All you need in basketball is a couple of Top Flight Recruits and you're good to go."

It's the familiar refrain of the fan of a down college hoops program.  It doesn't take a long time to turn around a basketball program--it's not like football--you just need a couple of good players.  Astonishingly, there are Rutgers fans who still believe this.

Well, it's blatantly not true.  At least not around here.

Fred Hill brought in some of the most talented players ever to set foot at Rutgers, only to watch these players struggle for two years, then crash and burn and send everyone running for the hills.  Mike Rice followed that up with the highest ranked class in school history, and that team won some big games but could never find the consistency to turn it around and make the NCAA Tournament.  Those players lost to St. Peter's.

They really weren't as talented as advertised, people said.

But then point to the wins over Florida and UConn and Pittsburgh.  The down to the wire battles with Georgetown.

They were talented.

But they needed time to develop.

And, now, here we are with Eddie Jordan, who has a team full of highly ranked players.  Ones who are struggling to find consistency, learn the system, buy-in or maybe aren't as talented as advertised.  They aren't clicking with Jordan, though they have shown occasional flashes.

A lot of fans are now pointing toward the 2015 recruiting class.  Eddie Jordan has gotten his name in with some very talented players. If, if, if--people are saying--we can land a few of those players, Jordan can be NCAA bound in year 3.  But that's not how it works.  That's not who Rutgers is.  And that's now how Eddie Jordan is going to be able to build this team.

Rutgers is not Kentucky.  The Scarlet Knights are not the Blue Devils.  They are a team that has lost for 8 years in a row, and hasn't been to the NCAAs in 23 years.  The best players aren't going to come here en mass. Jordan may land 1 or 2, but he's not going to bring in a crazy talented one and one class.  And the trick is this, even if he does bring in a landmark class, he's going to have to develop them.

And that could take up to 3 years.  We're talking the '18-'19 season.  Getting these players, teaching them a what-looks-to-be very complicated system, and getting them to execute it well.  In arguably the best basketball conference in the nation.  It took Jay Wright and the Number 1 recruiting class in the country three years to make the jump.  It took Mick Cronin 5 years, and that included landing 1 and done Lance Stephenson.

The quick rebuild rarely exists.  There are no one year turnarounds anymore.

Look what Brendan Prunty had to say in this chat. Landing a monster class is unlikely to happen.  The better bet is to trust the Eddie Jordan eye, and let him coach players that buy in and play hard.  Let him land players that fit like the players he's recruiting now.

Isaiah Briscoe would be a great piece, and it might accelerate the process a bit, but he needs to be surrounded with player who know what to do and know what Eddie expects. I hope Rutgers lands him.  He'd love it here.  And I hope he's willing to stick around.   It seems like it  might to take time to turn this ship around.

Five years?

Six years?

Seven?

This basketball team cannot be turned on a quick fix.  The key is to get the players playing together, playing well, and playing better.  Incremental improvement, both in skills and in record.

Change the culture, and change the record.

Basketball is not easier to turn around than football.  Yes, football needs to fill nearly 80 scholarships.  But there are only 120 Division 1 football teams.  There are 346 Division 1 basketball teams.  And the best players go to the most traditionally good programs in both sports.

Rebuilding takes time.  Unfortunately, for the Rutgers fans, that likely what is going to happen here.

Like mystery novels?  Read Dave White's crime novels on your e-Reader. When One Man Dies is available on KindleNook and anywhere else e-books are sold. You can also find the Shamus Award nominated The Evil That Men Do in the same places. Cheaper than 3 Starbucks coffees!

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