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No Cigar

Good effort, but our boys ultimately fell short in the end yet again. How many times are we going to read words to that effect this year?

Rutgers basketball under Coach Hill is always unpleasant enough to watch merely owing to the slow tempo, but seeing only one basket scored in the first couple of minutes while the Bearcats jumped to an early lead was, well, pretty much deja vu, recalling all recent miserable history. No one in the building knew why Coburn was yet again starting over Beatty. Mike Rosario just couldn't find the rim. Then things settled down, and RU even briefly held a lead at halftime after Rosario got hot. Dane Miller continues to show flashes.

Unfortunately, there's just not all that much in the way of margin for error with this roster. With no Greg Echenique, they can't rebound to save their lives, and teams are free to double Rosario. If he doesn't get hot, they don't have much of a chance. It's just RU's luck that Ech would go down just as everyone else was starting to show signs of life.

The problem with confidence is that it's fleeting. Rutgers has played inspired ball at other points under Hill, but they always eventually fall back to their old habits. They're not going to beat West Virginia, especially not in Morgantown. Providence hasn't shown anything to this point, but that game's on the road too. Then you're back to the RAC for Syracuse. Then USF, but it's on the road. Nova at home. Georgetown and Marquette away. The next realistic win opportunities (unless you're bullish on beating USF or Providence) are probably a month away when Notre Dame and St. John's come to the RAC. And by that point, the losses have started piling up, and everybody's packing it in. The Big East configuration is an unmitigated disaster; if anything can spur Rutgers to the victory over the Friars, I'd hope it'd be the knowledge that the entire conference is essentially rigged to prop up that program at the expense of the greater collective good.

Again, the game wasn't a complete mess, but this is the same Rutgers team that is a few weeks away from going to overtime against Rider, and has played fairly uninspired for most of the year. Ok performance, but I can already visualize the sulking, rolled shoulders, and not hustling. Cincinnati may be coming off a home win over UConn, but they're a middle of the road Big East team, and that by definition should fall victim to a RAC that's showing any signs of life at all. I want to believe, I really do. All evidence points to the contrary however, and believing otherwise is only going to set yourself up for disappointment. This past week was essentially a high water mark for the season. It's only downhill from here.