Four weeks from tomorrow, the Rutgers men's basketball team will open their season at the RAC. Today was Big Ten Media day in Chicago. Here are some highlights from Eddie Jordan's press conference:
- Opening statement: "So it's a new team. We have 7 newcomers. I like our talent base, we look good, deeper, athletic. And we have 8 or 9 guys to start. But the talent level has gotten better. Young, and so we'll go from there."
- On Corey Sanders: Young, athletic, enthusiastic, knows how to play. You know, he's one of the top guys already who can start for us. But for the most part, he's an energetic young man. He's fun to be around. I know he's got a huge following on YouTube, but he's a terrific young man and he goes to class. Hasn't been a blip about him missing a tutor, being late for study hall, so he does everything right."
- On replacing Myles Mack and Kadeem Jack: " I'm hoping we can have, you know, six, seven guys who average 9,10 points a game. Last year, Jack and Mack were our top scorers, and we just couldn't score last year. I thought defensively we were solid for most of the year. We were one of the top 100 teams, maybe even better, defensively in the country. So I just think we need to score more, and we've opened the offense up a little bit more, and I'm excited about how we're playing so far in practice."
- On the shot clock change: I'm excited about it, you know, pushing the ball, taking your person within 3, and I know three or four of our guys have the ability--who have the ability to make 3's. If it's a good open shot, I don't care if it's 22 seconds on the clock, go ahead and shoot. They like that idea, and I think we're playing a little more loose and more confident-wise. But we don't look at the clock as something you have to play to or defend."
- On sophomore Mike Williams: Mike has been looking very well, very good in practice. He's played well. He's one of our toughest defenders and probably the toughest defender we have. I know he had a reputation coming out of New York as a top shooter, but you know, he confessed he was nervous as a freshman.
Eddie Jordan seemed eager to put last year behind him and the program, as well as being excited to start the new season. He seemed confident that the team has improved, both in talent and athleticism. He loves Corey Sanders, not just on the court, but as a person. I think most important, his approach with this team so far is positive and he seems re-energized by his players. Jordan talked about opening up the offense and instilling confidence in his players to take open shots, including from three-point range. Jordan mentioned that he primarily ran the "princeton offense" for the majority of his career, but that he chose to change styles with this team, which excites him.
Jordan has consistently shown the ability the adapt and make changes that he sees fit for the betterment of the program, the sign of a great leader. He has made an abundance of roster changes over the past two plus years. He fired one assistant coach and transitioned his good friend and confidant, Mike O'Koren, from assistant to a special advisor role. Now he has dropped his traditional style of play and it's principles, for a more wide open and perimeter oriented style. Jordan has embraced learning the college game and seems to be enjoying coaching younger players. There is no doubt this team will prefer to play this style, which should translate to better results. We've seen Eddie's plan take shape on the recruiting trail, as he and his staff are tracking super athletic and versatile players. This fits with the way Eddie now wants his team to play, and this style will make Rutgers more attractive to recruits.
My personal opinion is that Jordan knows Rutgers is not respected and yearns to prove the doubters wrong. He made a quip after the first question of the presser that it was one more question than he was asked at last year's media day. Jordan also commented how important the non-conference portion of the schedule is to the development of this team. I've said before that ten wins is a real possibility and something that would give the team a lot of confidence heading into conference play. Last year at media day, Eddie talked about still needing to learn about each Big Ten team. Now he has a year of experience playing against the league, something that he surely has learned from, and in part led to his decision to change offensive styles. 29 days to tip-off!!!!
The "No respect" Tweets:
Eddie Jordan of Rutgers is here. Says "we're looking forward to being more successful in the Big Ten." Not sure that's gonna happen.— Alex Bozich (@insidethehall) October 15, 2015
Eddie Jordan: "We're looking forward to being more successful in our second year in the Big Ten." (no sarcasm)— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) October 15, 2015
As Dave White said to me this week, "respect is earned." Time to go get it!
Notable quotes from Jordan in speaking after his press conference:
Jordan couldn't say enough about freshman PG Corey Sanders, whom the coach says will "make an impact" right away. #B1GMediaDay— Jason Langendorf (@JasonLangendorf) October 15, 2015
Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan doesn't run from last year -- mentioned wins over Clemson and Manhattan -- but says team talent is better now.— Jason Langendorf (@JasonLangendorf) October 15, 2015
Jordan says Rutgers isn't interested in trying to out-recruit Big 10 schools in their own backyards. #B1GMediaDay— Jason Langendorf (@JasonLangendorf) October 15, 2015
We end with Rutgers pride:
For Eddie Jordan's full transcript at his press conference, click here. For video of every Big Ten coach's press conference at media day, click here. For transcripts of every press conference, click here.