Their leading scorer transferred to Florida.
The Big East Defensive Player of the Year graduated and got drafted into the NBA.
The fans have already written this year's team off and are looking forward to a huge recruiting class next year.
They have a new head coach who promises to kick their butt day in and day out in practice. He’s shown them their press clippings. He’s preached dicipline and teamwork.
So, what’s left for the Rutgers basketball team?
Hopefully, heart and hard work.
A look at the 2010 roster after the jump:
Dane Miller (SF, Sophomore): The runner up to the Big East Rookie of the Year title has a lot of expectations ahead of him this season. Most expect him to take on the offensive load, without Mike Rosario around. He’s going to have to score and distribute. He’s going to have to be efficient, and he’s going to have to give it all on defense. Can Miller handle it? Reports say Coach Mike Rice has been pushing Miller the hardest in practice, trying to prepare him for the hardship of a Big East season. Can Miller respond to all the pressure and put up a superstar season? Any chance Rutgers has to be successful depends on it.
Jonathan Mitchell (PF, Senior): Last year Mitchell showed a penchant to get hot and score in bunches. He was the star when RU beat Georgetown last year, putting up 24 points on 9-12 shooting. But Mitchell is going to have to be more consistent this year. He hit a lot of shots from the outside last year, and while that will help, he’s going to have to go inside a lot more this year. He’s also going to have to pick up his rebounding and defense. Without Hamady N’Diaye, Mitchell is going to be needed much more on the defensive side.
Mike Coburn (G, Senior): Throughout his career, Coburn’s been a bit of an enigma. He should a lot of promise his freshmen year, starring in two consecutive upsets vs. Villanova and Pittsburgh. Since then, he’s played a lot of point guard, and had a lot of turnovers. When he’s shifted to shooting guard, he’s shown some promise, including an ability to get in the paint and hit a nice floating shot. This year, Coburn figures to start at the 2 guard, and will get every chance in the world to knock down some shots.
James Beatty (PG, Senior): The JUCO guard really showed an ability to push the tempo and distribute the ball last year. He has the ability to get the ball to players where they need it. He’s shown an ability to hit the three, but much like Mitchell, it hasn’t been consistent. Coach stresses defense and Beatty’s also been a very good defensive player, shutting down some of the other team’s best player. Rice says he’s been one of the players who’s improved the most in early workouts. He’s going to need to score more this year to help out Miller and Mitchell. Beatty is definitely looking to be more aggressive this year.
Austin Johnson (PF, Sophomore): Johnson has the build of a prototypical power forward. He’s shown promise in the games he’s played, with a soft touch around the basket and an ability to distribute down low. However, with the lack of the depth on the team this season, Johnson is going to have to learn a new position. He’s expected to be the team’s starting center. Defensively, he’s going to have to face one of the most historically tough positions in the league and replace last year’s Big East Defensive Player of the Year. He’s put on some muscle this year, and hopefully he’s a quick learner.
Gilvydas Biruta (PF, Freshman): This frosh out of St. Benedicts didn’t make many top 150 player lists, but by all accounts he’s a true sleeper. Word out of practice is he’s a pure athlete. He can rebound, get dirty, but also step out and hit the three. While it’s expected Johnson will start, one can expect Biruta to challenge him for that spot at some point during the season.
Mike Poole (SF/SG, Freshman): Another St. Benedicts player, he’s been described as a glue guy. He is a defensive stalwart, and Jon Rothstein has tweeted that the coaching staff expects Poole to get at least 15 minutes a game. Most likely he’ll spell Miller and Coburn.
Austin Carroll (SG, Freshman): In a postgame interview last year, I remember Jim Carr described Carroll as a zone buster. He can hit in the three, and—while it’s only a few minutes long—his highlight video seems to show an ability to pass. The son of a coach, Carroll is going to get every chance in the world to succeed this season.
Robert Lumpkins (PF, Senior): Very little is known about Lumpkins, at least as far as I can find. He didn’t play much at the University of New Mexico. Now a transfer who has immediate elibility, look for him to add some much need depth down low. He’s going to have to defend and rebound in order to play a lot. But don’t overlook the experience he brings. He was on an NCAA team last year.
Tyree Graham (SG, Junior): A JUCO player brought in to help fill the void left by Mike Rosario’s transfer, Graham was going to be integral to this team. Unfortunately, team doctors found an ACL tear and he’s expected to miss the season.