For most of Rutgers' membership in the Big East, the Scarlet Knights struggled to emulate the success of the football program. With all of the power schools within the conference, RU could never put together a complete season, for a myriad of reasons. Still, the Knights had their moments, and it's only proper to give a sendoff worthy of the Big East.
Here are the top five hoops memories from our now former home:
#5 - Rutgers just misses the upset over No. 1 UConn
January 6, 2004: #1 Connecticut 75, Rutgers 74
"This wasn't luck. It would have been a lot different with one more play by them or one less play by us. We're pretty good and Rutgers gave us everything we could handle." -UConn coach Jim Calhoun
The 2003-2004 Connecticut Huskies basketball team was filled with star power: Ben Gordon, Emeka Okafor, and Charlie Villanueva. And yet, Quincy Douby and the Knights had the upset right there for the taking, but couldn't give the RAC faithful what they were hoping for. Herve Lamizana and Ricky Shields had valiant efforts as well, but in the end the luck - or lack thereof - was not on the Knights bench either.
#4 - Herve banks it off the glass
January 29, 2003: Rutgers 68, #24 Syracuse 65
"I didn't call glass, but I knew it was going in the minute it left my hand. I didn't plan on banking it. I could tell I let it go a little too hard, but it was going in the right direction." -Rutgers C Herve Lamizana
After the game, it was revealed that Herve Lamizana had never hit a game-winning shot in organized basketball. So it was fitting that his first opportunity came in style in the form of a three-pointer bank shot. Ironically, it was sharpshooter Carmelo Anthony who couldn't seal the deal for his team, as his two-point attempt as time ran out wasn't even close. While Lamizana might be remembered for his bank shot, it was Jerome Coleman who engineered the upset with 26 points in the second half, and 13 in an 18-4 run alone.
#3 - Mike Rosario returns to the RAC
December 29, 2011: Rutgers 85, #10 Florida 83 (2OT)
"JER-SEY HATES YOU!" -RAC student section, towards Mike Rosario
You couldn't script it any better for a Rutgers fan: former Knight transfers the previous season and returns as a member of the opposing team - a highly ranked team, no less - the following year. Highly ranked team and player seen as traitor lose, sans storm the court, and revenge is served in the cold of December. That's exactly what happened when Mike Rosario and the No. 10 Florida Gators made the trek up north to take on the Scarlet Knights at the RAC. Eli Carter, who ended up transferring himself, notched 31 points for the night, and Rutgers needed every one of them. One of his biggest shots came with 18 seconds left in the first overtime, as he sank a deep three to tie the game. RU outlasted the Gators for another extra session, and sent Rosario home with a loss.
#2 - The four-point play
February 11, 2011: Rutgers 77, #10 Villanova 76
"At Florida I was always on the court, because when we lose Coach Donovan would sub for those guys and I knows how it feels to be on that side. This was great." -Rutgers F Jonathan Mitchell on court storming
Honestly, I thought it was hard to find any foul from Villanova's Corey Fisher. Good thing I'm not a ref, or at least not on that night at the RAC. The Wildcats didn't play poorly against the Knights, as they shot over 55% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc. They just couldn't pull away from Rutgers.
#1 - Billet sends the Knights to the Big East semis
March 6, 1998: Rutgers 61, Georgetown 60
The ride started with a tournament upset of top-25 West Virginia. After that game, Geoff Billet reportedly just planned on going down the Jersey Shore with some friends, belting out Springsteen's "Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)" - a true Garden State tradition. Fortunately, his plans were dashed when Billet decided to sink a running 14-footer to send the Knights to the Big East tournament semifinal. Furthermore, this is the game that created a monster in our very own basketball blogger, the venerable Dave White:
"I always wish I could find the video of this on YouTube, because it's the moment that sold me on being a Rutgers basketball fan. You know it. Seconds left, Rutgers losing to Georgetown in the second round of the Big East Tournament. Billet takes it to the hoop, puts up a floater... GOOD!" -and Dave White is trapped forever
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