Last year, Mike Rice put his first stamp on the Rutgers program when he stunned Miami at the RAC. Seniors James Beatty and MIke Coburn played stunning defense on Miami's guards and the Scarlet Knights ran away with a 16 point win. The Knights served notice they would not be an easy out.
Now this year's version of the squad travels to Miami to take on the Hurricanes who are learning under first year coach Jim Larranaga (yes, the same coach who took George Mason to the Final Four some years ago.) As we all know, the Scarlet Knights are young and still learning. So what do they have to do to win?
Find out after the jump...Keys to the Game
1. Defense on the Guards: Durand Scott and Malcolm Grant still man the guard positions for Miami. Last year, two seniors shut them down. This year Myles Mack, Jerome Seagears and Eli Carter will be put to their first test. While Dane Miller will like get the nod defending one of these guards, Rutgers freshman will put put to task trying to slow the others. Not to mention the freshman fouls and a home court advantage will come into play. Scott and Grant are good, and won't be taken by surprise this time around. This is a challenging match-up for the young Knights.
2. Control the Tempo: Against Dartmouth, Rutgers let the visiting team control tempo. Rutgers wasn't able to run much (something that should be a strength of this team), and they were forced to play a slow down offense. Miami is going to want to speed up the game, and that's going to help the Knights out. Look for some early fast breaks, and an ability to score quickly.
3. Rebound and Control the Paint: With big man Reggie Johnson out due to injury and guard/forward DeQuan Jones out because of an NCAA violation, Rutgers will have a size advantage. Time for Austin Johnson to step up and be a factor. Feed Johnson the ball and get him to score. Get key stops and come out with the ball. Finish defensive possessions. The guards have to drive the lane and get to the line. Dane Miller needs to drive as well. If Rutgers is successful, it will lead to ....
4. Don't Forget the Three Ball: It's hard to win when trading 2 points for 3. Miami's guards can hit the 3, especially at home. Rutgers isn't going to win if they only hit 2 of 4 three pointers. If the guards and Johnson are successful getting to the rim, the perimeter is going to be open. Rutgers needs to shoot--and hit--some threes to win this game.
5. Make Your Free Throws: Rutgers isn't going to get many foul calls tomorrow. On the road, with a freshman team, it's likely the benefit of the doubt will go against them. When the team does get to the line, they're going to have to make their shots. On the road, you can't afford to leave points on the floor. Must make the front ends of 1 and 1s, and take advantage of every opportunity.
Miami is undermanned tomorrow and Rutgers is going to have a chance, but the freshman are going to have to be at their best. And it's a good idea for Dane Miller to take over offensively.