Feeling down about the football team? Well, today there is something to be excited about, and that is the collegiate debut of point guard Corey Sanders. After sitting out Rutgers home opener in Friday's win against Rutgers-Newark, Sanders will finally suit up at the RAC. Howard comes to town after playing yesterday at UMass. This game marks the opening round of the Men Who Speak Up Main Event tournament that Rutgers will play in Las Vegas next week. The Bison had a 3 point lead with a little more than 2 minutes to play, only to lose by 6. Regardless, Howard is a veteran team that went 16-16 last season. Here is what to watch for in today's game.
Corey Sanders running the offense
In Friday's opener, Bishop Daniels handled the point in Sanders absence and the first half was very sloppy. In Daniels defense, JUCO transfer Deshawn Freeman sat out the first half due to a team violation as well, but Rutgers struggled to get into a rhythm. Play opened up in the second half and Rutgers cruised to the win, but we didn't see the offense in it's intended form. Today with Sanders debut, we will finally see Eddie Jordan's vision in effect on the floor. Sanders development and ability to lead this team on the floor is the biggest key to the season.
Rutgers was one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the country last season and Friday was no different. The team shot 5-18 from long range, something that has to get better this season. UMass almost lost to Howard yesterday and shot 5-20 from three-point range. Rutgers must shoot better starting today. Mike Williams, Justin Goode and Omari Grier all had their moments on Friday and the potential is there. They need to be better today.
Contain Howard's backcourt
In yesterday's loss, Howard was a two man scoring show, led by guards James Daniel with 30 points and James Miller with 27 points. Both are juniors and averaged double figures last season, with Daniel leading the team in scoring. They will be a test for Sanders, Daniels and Mike Williams, who will need to slow them down throughout the game. They combined to shoot 20-40 from the field including 6-15 from three-point range. They are the only proven scorers on the roster, so slowing them down is the key on defense.
Improve team defense
There were times on Friday when Rutgers-Newark easily penetrated the lane for high percentage shots in the lane. Especially in the first half, Rutgers looked half a step slow on defense. This led to a lot of unnecessary fouls, which this team cannot afford with it's limited depth, especially in the frontcourt. Eddie implemented a 2-3 zone at times which helped tighten up the lane and it's something we will probably see more of today. The press was used some as well, with mixed results. They will need to play better as a team on defense against Howard.
Play to the finish
College basketball has only been back for two days and there have already been a ton of upsets. #17 Wisconsin lost to Western Illinois, UCLA lost to Monmouth in OT, Illinois lost to North Florida, N.C.State lost to William & Mary, and Georgetown lost to Radford. I could keep going as there were more. Anything can happen in college basketball and no team is ever done until the postseason tournament, as Dave White highlighted earlier this week. Rutgers needs to win as many non-conference games as possible, before beginning play in the brutal Big Ten. Progress and development is always helped by winning. Howard is not a team to overlook. Take care of business today at home!
How to Watch & Listen:
1pm at the RAC
TV: The game will be streaming on BTN plus with Kevin Fitzgerald and Dick Lloyd
Radio: Rutgers IMG Radio Network - WOR (710) and WCTC (1450AM) with Chris Carlin and Joe Boylan. Also, you can listen to Rutgers student radio stationWRSU (88.7 FM) - Gabe Sustick & Andrew Fafalios. Also on Sirius Radio Channel 125 & XM Radio 196