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Rutgers Basketball '11, The Vets: Mike Poole

As a freshman, Mike Poole was a spark off the bench.  His knack for a key steal and lay-ups kept Rutgers in a number of games, including the memorable Villanova game.  Poole's impact came early, as he helped stir a regulation time comeback against Princeton (the team ultimately lost in overtime). 

Poole also showed some weaknesses on the court, the first one being his shooting range.  He showed a nice shot from just inside the arc, but he never had a consistent 3 point shot. 

Poole's role is going to increase this year.  His game is going to have to improve as well.

See more after the jump...

Jon Rothstein has been raving about Mike Poole all summer.  Rothstein has said that Poole has improved his shot by leaps and bounds.  Poole game this year is being compared to the Robert "Stix" Mitchell, the small forward for Seton Hall who was an impressive player in his first year for the Pirates.  If Poole can do what Mitchell did, the Scarlet Knights will be better off.  Most the of the shooting talent on the Scarlet Knights comes in the form of freshman, but having a veteran presence is important.

Most experts are labeling Poole as a start this year at shooting guard.  This isn't surprising.  Coach Mike Rice loves having veterans set the tone for the rest of his players.  While only a sophomore, Poole is going to have to step up as a leader.  There aren't any seniors on the squad.  If Poole can slide into a starting role, he can lead the way for his freshman back-ups--Eli Carter and Jerome Seagears.  It will also be interesting to see if sophomore Austin Carroll can push Poole as well.

Poole is athletic, vocal, and confident.  He made some headlines over the summer by guaranteeing the Scarlet Knights will be in the post-season.  If Poole's shot and offensive game have improved as advertise, that is a big step in the right direction for the team.  His defense and energy are already there, an extension of Mike Rice on the floor.  He and Gilvydas Biruta really embody the intensity that Rice wants to display.

It's time for Poole to take the next step and become a more complete player.  Should be fun to watch.