The 15 game losing streak is over! It wasn't pretty at times, but a win is a win. After being tied at 33 at the half, Rutgers dominated the second frame, building a lead as large as 21 points before RU-Newark ended the game on a 9-1 run. The main objective was to get the victory and get experience. Both were accomplished and several players stood out.
Mike Williams led the way with his first career double-double, scoring 18 points and 11 rebounds. He also had 4 assists and 5 steals, looking more relaxed and confident than at any point last season. While he was just 2-8 from three-point range, he was 6-10 from the rest of the field. He was active all game, making several backdoor cuts on offense and was scrappy on defense.
Williams also made a great pass to a streaking D.J.Foreman on the perimeter in the second half, who took it strong to the basket for a bucket. Eddie Jordan stressed he has urged Foreman to be aggressive and he delivered, scoring 10 points on 5-7 shooting, all on dunks or shots near the rim, including a nice spin move in the first half. Foreman added 6 rebounds and played under control all game.
Deshawn Freeman, the JUCO transfer making his debut, sat out the first half due to a violation of team rules. In his first action, he scored on a strong move to the rim and was fouled, completing the three-point play for his first career points in a Rutgers uniform. He made the most of his time in the second half, scoring 13 points on 6-8 shooting along with 4 rebounds and 2 blocks. Freeman looks polished on the offensive end and could provide a reliable, steady scoring punch for this team. It didn't look like he was bothered by his cracked thumb, which he wore a brace for earlier this week. He will definitely start moving forward.
Two other newcomers who played well were Ibrahima Diallo and Justin Goode. Diallo moved well in the post and ran the floor well, catching a long outlet pass from Jonathan Laurent for an easy layup in the first half. He finished with 9 points on 4-5 shooting and 4 rebounds. With Shaq Doorson out indefinitely with a leg injury, Diallo has a major opportunity to be a key contributor this season. Goode played a lot of minutes and was solid, scoring 9 points including 1-2 from three-point range and 4-4 from the free throw line. It was good to see both redshirt freshman have solid starts in their Rutgers debut.
All that being said, this team is a work in progress. They looked very sloppy early and were down by the score of 11-6 with 13 minutes left in the first half. The team finished with 20 turnovers, including 4 from Laurent, who played out of control and picked up 3 fouls in the first half, never getting going. Bishop Daniels struggled in the first half and it was obvious he wasn't comfortable playing as the primary point guard. He finished just 1-8 from the field but did lead the team with 5 assists. He looked much more comfortable near the rim, slashing on one occasion and picking up a couple offensive rebounds.
Eddie Jordan called for several different looks on defense, including a fullcourt press and halfcourt zone. They even tried a three-quarters press in the second half. It was good to see him experiment with different looks and it seemed to wear down Rutgers-Newark in the second half.
Shooting was not much different from last season, as the team was just 5-18 from three-point range for 27% and 7-12 from the free throw line. While they shot 50% overall, Rutgers must shoot better from long range and the charity stripe to stay in games against good teams. At the end of the day, Corey Sanders was absent due to his one game suspension and because of that, we haven't seen Jordan's true vision for the offense yet. Sanders will bring an energy and pace to the team that was not present tonight. The wait will end on Sunday, as Rutgers plays a veteran Howard team at home at 1pm at the RAC.