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Rutgers Basketball: The Team Needs to Be Better Next Year

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After a 12-21 season, and an embarrassing 61 point loss to Louisville, Eddie Jordan needs to have the team playing on a higher level in 2014-15.

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Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

College basketball is supposed to be fun.  And because some minor basketball news broke today, it's time to start looking ahead:

Eddie Jordan has taken another step toward having a complete team next year.  And, at the moment, 7 of those players will be ones he recruited.  Bishop Daniels, Mike Williams, Dwayne Foreman, Ibrahima Diallo, and Johnson all will play roles on this team next year, with the former 3 probably playing big ones.  And there are still two more scholarships Jordan may fill.

In the span of two years, Jordan has made this team nearly all his.  And while key players Myles Mack and Kadeem Jack are the best players--and from the previous regime--Jordan has improved both of those players, at times . . . especially Jack.

Basically, despite its youth and some new faces, the team is Jordan's.

And he needs to show he's a better coach than the 12-21 point record.  Better than the 61 point loss.  All this as he goes into the Big Ten, probably one of the top two basketball leagues in the country.

But, in order for us to decide whether or not the team is better, we need to define what better is.

Let's be honest, Rutgers basketball will not go from 12-21 to 21-12 overnight.  No one expects a miracle NCAA Tournament run.  No.  With the schedule Rutgers has, it's unlikely to happen.  So, what is better?

Let's bullet this bad boy:

  • You can't lose by 61.  To anyone.  This is stating the obvious.  You can lose by 20 on the road to Michigan or Michigan State.  That's fine.  But 61?  That just can't happen.  No quitting on your team, your coach or your players.  Show some pride.
  • Run the offense.  Hero ball can't have a place here.  Rutgers is not talented enough.  Last year, when the Scarlet Knights were at their best, they were sharing the ball, finding the open shot or cutting to the basket.  It didn't happen often enough to make the season respectable, but there were signs.  Even when a player stepped up (Kadeem Jack) it was mostly because his teammates found him.  Not because Jack hogged the ball.
  • Take the Out of Conference schedule seriously.  No losses to FDU or near-misses to Army.  A Big Ten team can't be in nailbiters against nobodies.  It'd also be nice to be in the game against Virginia, Vanderbilt or LaSalle.  Can we not go 0-fer a big time pre-season tournament for once?
  • Play defense.  Take pride in defense.  The three-point shot is the most popular shot in college basketball (EDITOR'S NOTE: Dave does not have stats to back this up, he's rolling here.)  Get out and cover 3 point shooters.
  • Be better at home.  That's a sign a program is starting to come around.  If Rutgers can beat the Penn States and Northwesterns at the RAC, there a sign the team is playing well.  And if it can be in the games against the big boys, that lead's us to...
  • Upset someone.  Everyone gets an upset in college basketball.  Even Fred Hill beat Villanova, Pittsburgh (on the road!!), and Georgetown.  Mike Rice and Gary Waters were upset masters.  Rutgers did not have a single big time upset last year.  They better this year.  There is no better way to get attention for your program when you're not good.

That's it.  Basically, Rutgers could play 10 times better this coming season than they did last year and still lose 18 games.  It's possible, but for a program to turn it around, incremental progress needs to be made.  Eddie Jordan needs to show something.

Signing Ryan Johnson is a start.

Filling the last two open scholarships would be another.

Reeling in a big time 2015 class would be even better.

But a fun year--not a good year, but a fun year--next year would be the best thing of all.  And that's what Eddie Jordan needs to sell the program.

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