This entire off-season has been a symphony of defense. Every press conference, every coach and every player has talked about improving the Rutgers' Scarlet Knights defense.
And that symphony reached is crescendo when coach Eddie Jordan said Junior Etou was an NBA level defender, in this article by Jerry Carino.
Now, part of this may be pre-season hype, but if Etou is anything near an NBA level defender right now, the outlook of this team may increase exponentially. Now, that still doesn't mean an NCAA season, but Etou's ability to help the team get a stop during key possessions is huge. The defense out near the 3 point line was awful at times last year, and if Etou has the mobility to defend the perimeter while stopping the drive, that will help the team get out and run.
On the offensive end, Etou is equally as important. He showed a ton of potential last year, after sitting out the first 6 games for NCAA reasons. Etou showed the ability to make defenses pay with sharp, precise cuts to the basket, and some range on his three point shots.
This Rutgers' team has two key scorers in Myles Mack and Kadeem Jack, assuming the latter is injury free. And, Bishop Daniels is expected to add instant offense as well. But Etou can really be a force. If the opposition is focusing on Jack and Mack, Etou could be left free to make defenses pay.
Junior Etou doesn't need to be a star this season, he just needs to be solid and take advantage of his opportunities--of which he'll have many.
And, if he's the player building a foundation of good defense, Rutgers fans can look forward to some surprises this coming season.
It starts next Saturday, during a 2 pm exhibition against Baruch.
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