Mike Rice has come in and turned the eyes toward men's basketball again. First he did it with recruiting. The seven man class of Myles Mack, Jerome Seagears, Kadeem Jack (who's already redshirting), Greg Lewis, Derrick Randall, Malik Kone, and new man Eli Carter have the fans buzzing. Most loved the signings as Rice brought them in. Most looked eagerly toward 2011-2012 when the class was announced.
No one looked toward this year.
Except Mike Rice and the rest of the Rutgers basketball team. They all completely bought in and began the process of turning the program around. They fought and clawed and battled, and though they didn't come out on top as often as they would have liked, they gave the fans something to buzz about.
The gave Rutgers basketball a new identity. They laid the foundation.
Now the fans have expectations. They want to see this young class continue the process of building the program. They want to see exciting basketball.
And they will be able.
You see, I feel Big East basketball gets more exposure than Big East football. Basketball is on all the time and it's almost always competitive. There's Big Monday, there's Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Nearly every game is on. SNY has pre- and post games.
And Rutgers hoops gained a ton of exposure with the loss to St. John's this year in the ESPN aired Big East Tournament. A week of basketball on the world's largest sports network. Basketball is going to keep building.
Football is going through a restructuring. And with Big East football, it's hard to keep that exposure going. The games are often not as compelling, and with a shorter schedule, you only get one or two HUGE match-ups a year. In the basketball, you get one every night.
So, Rutgers basketball is in a good place. It has a chance to build on its momentum and keep going. They have a chance to get back in the spotlight, out of football's shadow.