It's a hard thing for Rutgers basketball fans to hear after 23 years of no NCAA Tournament, but after a 17 point drubbing at the hands of the George Washington Colonials, it's all you can preach.
Rutgers started the game with a ton of energy, but couldn't get the ball in the basket. They fell behind 6-0, and even Myles Mack missed two free throws. Getting behind like that, missing lay-ups, bricking easy jump shots, it grinds against you, and Rutgers wasn't ever able to recover. Especially when you're missing Kadeem Jack, your best player.
The Scarlet Knights were down 12 at halftime, and had thrown the ball away 10 times. They were hanging around, but George Washington took advantage of a jittery Rutgers and pushed lead to double digits. To be honest, it felt like Rutgers was disjointed and not crisp. Much of that could be attributed to playing with out the key to your offense. Jack would have, hopefully, kept the team in it. And when games are close, you never know what can happen when the ball bounces.
Bishop Daniels and Junior Etou, who will be counted on, had awful offensive nights, going a combined 1 for 16. Had either of them been serviceable, this would have been a game. At times, it felt like Rutgers was going to get back into the game, whittling a 20 point deficit down to 13, and had the ball in their hands. But GW managed to get a basket, whenever they needed it.
If Kadeem Jack... if, if, if. At the end, when the buzzer sounded, Rutgers lost in a blowout.
That said, in a game like this, it's tough to find positives. But there were a few. Mike Williams scored 10 points and showed the shooter's touch we'd heard about. The defense in the first half was solid, and looked better than last year. There were a few times the freshmen looked confused, but that's something that should work itself out in the future.
And then there was DJ Foreman. Oh... DJ Foreman. Just watch this:
All in all, it's tough to throw in the towel on this team quite yet. You can't judge a team until they have their best player, and hopefully Jack heals a little quicker. They need him, even against their next opponent, Fairleigh Dickinson, who beat St. Joe's Friday night
It was a disappointing night to start the season on, but there is hope it can get better. Kadeem Jack and his sprained thumb are the key.