The news this week wasn't good. Kadeem Jack was hurt (and will be questionable for next Sunday night, per Jerry Carino), and the Scarlet Knights couldn't hold on to the ball against Boston College in a secret scrimmage.
It was the kind of news that made you think Rutgers would have to hold on against Baruch and, perhaps, struggle to win by double digits.
The Scarlet Knights came out and played with a purpose. Bishop Daniels pushed the tempo early, and hit a three pointer on the team's first possession. And Rutgers cruised from there. They were efficient and smart with the ball, leading 54-18 at halftime. Myles Mack and Daniels seemed to have some good chemistry, as Mack led Daniels for a solid fastbreak dunk to open the first half. Junior Etou paced the team with 13 points. DJ Foreman got over some early jitters and scored 12.
Even better, Rutgers only turned the ball over 12 times, compared to the 29 they reportedly had in the scrimmage. They did what was asked of them on offense. Greg Lewis and Bishop Daniels also finished with double digit points. In terms of the guards, the walk-ons, particularly Khalil Batie got most of the run in the second half.
And the defense? Rutgers held Baruch to 21% from the floor in the first half. They played solid half court defense, and when Baruch rotated the ball to the open man, it seemed to be the player Rutgers wanted to be shooting. There was a lid on the rim for Baruch.
And when there wasn't?
That's when Shaquille Doorson showed up. Doorson looked like a player the entire game. He pulled down 15 rebounds, altered shots, and most importantly took up defensive space. It seemed that whenever he was on the court, Baruch had to adjust their game plan, keeping the ball away from him (and therefore away from the hoop) on defense, and, at time, triple teaming him when he touched the ball. Doorson showed some touch at the rim, and battled.
Basically, this was what you wanted to see if you were a Rutgers fan. The Scarlet Knights were without their best player, and still put on a show for the crowd that showed up. They did what was asked, never struggled and cruised to a 44 point victory.
Now the real season begins. Hope Jack heals quickly, because the Scarlet Knights will need him next Sunday against George Washington, a team that beat Rutgers early last season and projects to be even better this year.
Today was a breath of fresh air. Next week, the tension (and fun) returns.
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