With the season just a little more than three weeks away, we continue previewing the Rutgers men's basketball team. Today, Dave and I look at which second year player will make the biggest impact this season. Big men Shaq Doorson and D.J. Foreman as well as guard Mike Williams are entering their sophomore season, while Bishop Daniels is one of three seniors on the team.
Aaron Breitman: Shaq is currently wearing a boot on his foot and is being reevaluated in about a month. I like his potential but fear he will start so far behind everyone else, he might not catch back up this season. He showed flashes last season and we could use his big body down low, especially in conference play. I like his potential but his foot injury makes him a wild card. I think he will have the least impact of any second year player this season.
Dave White: This foot injury reminds me of Kadeem Jack's foot injury in 2011. Jack hadn't debuted for the Scarlet Knights, though he may have been their most heralded recruit. He finally showed up for a few minutes against Florida--in December. I have no idea how long Doorson will be out, but hopefully it's not that long. Doorson struck me as one of the best big men freshman Rutgers has had in a long time, and I was hoping to watch him take another step forward this season. One can only hope he does, but it's hard to predict impact when he's injured.
Aaron Breitman: Foreman's transition to the wing will be a key storyline to follow this season. Eddie told Tom Luicci in his season preview that D.J. was the best player in spring workouts and has become more aggressive. That is a great thing and exactly how Eddie wants the entire team to play. His ability to finish near the rim and knock down the mid-range jumper will be the key to how successful D.J. is this season. I think he has the highest ceiling of any second year player and his versatility makes him valuable.
Dave White: Foreman has a lot of potential this season. He had an innate ability to get to the rim last year, but was just out of control enough to miss some bunnies. If he can make those, he's going to start turning the corner into an impact player. Jerry Carino wrote that D.J. is making the transition to wing--if that happens, Rutgers could be in really good shape. Plenty of potential for Foreman to have a big time impact this season.
Aaron Breitman: Williams had to help shoulder the load of running the offense last season, something Eddie has said shouldn't happen now with Corey Sanders in the mix. Last week at Big Ten media day, Eddie said that Williams admitted to being nervous last season. Williams shot a disappointing 24% from three point range and only 32% from the field overall. Being more comfortable in the offense as a sophomore should help his three point shooting, as his confidence should be higher as well. Eddie made it clear he wants Williams and other guards to take the open three and be aggressive from long range. In addition, Eddie also called Williams the toughest defender on the team at media day. I think Williams will shoot at a higher percentage and be a consistent scorer on the perimeter, while locking down the best guard on the opposing team on defense. I predict Williams will have the greatest impact on this team.
Dave White: Williams needs to make the three pointer. He's Rutgers' best defensive guard, and had the reputation of being the best shooter in NYC as a high school player. Williams is also my favorite player on the team. Blue collar, hustles and grinds. But man, I want him to make the 3. If he can average 9 ppg (3 three point shots a game), Rutgers will have a better offense than last year. I want him to make the biggest impact.
Aaron Breitman: Daniels will most likely be a team captain and will be tasked with leading the backcourt this season. He made a jump statistically at the end of the season and can change momentum in a game with his athleticism. He is not a deep threat, so his ability to play off of Corey Sanders and penetrate the lane for high percentage shots and dump offs to the big men will be key. In addition, he will need to keep his poise and focus on the court and help ensure his teammates do as well. He must cut down on the turnovers, and while he will never be confused with John Stockton, needs to improve his assist to turnover ratio.
Dave White: Daniels is Rutgers' highest returning scorer. And he's going to have to do more than that. Daniels started to come around in the conference season last year, keeping Rutgers in it in the first half against Wisconsin and then dropping a rim shattering dunk against Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament to almost shift momentum. Daniels will very likely start along side Corey Sanders, and he's going to have to lead this squad of guards. Daniels is going to be the key to this team along with Sanders--so he is my prediction to have the biggest impact.