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Rutgers Men's Basketball: Cancelling Monmouth Series is Part of a Bigger Issue

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

After yesterday's loss to Monmouth, Josh Newman reported that Rutgers was no longer planning to schedule Monmouth moving forward.  As Newman points out above, it seems to be an easy game to play logistically. Monmouth is on the rise as a program and have now beaten four teams this season from power five conferences, as well as Big East power Georgetown. After Rutgers beat Monmouth in the first nine meetings of this series, there seems to be only one reason as to why this series is ending.  Eddie Jordan doesn't want to lose to in-state teams from smaller conferences.

It's the wrong mentality and one that should not be accepted by athletic director Patrick Hobbs.  The program has already done the same with Princeton, failing to play them the past two seasons.  Rutgers and Princeton had played every season with the exception of one since 1917, up until last year. After Rutgers lost during Eddie's first season as coach, the series was cancelled indefinitely.  It's a travesty, as I discussed with Richard Kent last week. Tradition is important because it is part of the history and culture of any institution. Why is that being changed, regardless of the quality of our team? The fact that it is being changed by a loyal son who is a central figure in the pinnacle of our basketball program's history, makes it all the more upsetting.

Attendance has been an issue this season, with Rutgers failing to draw more than 5,000 in any game before yesterday. In a building with 9,000+ capacity, drawing about 50% on average during the non-conference season is disappointing. Rutgers is having another losing season so that obviously is a factor.  However, playing Central Arkansas and Central Connecticut State is also part of the problem.  Yesterday, there were 6,000+ at the RAC, with Jerry Carino estimating 2,000+ were Monmouth fans. It's not ideal that the opposition would rival the attendance of our own fans, but it did create an "old school" RAC environment that is sadly uncommon these days.  Other than the Wisconsin win last season, the RAC has been devoid of the hostility opponents used to fear for far too long! Scheduling local teams will help attendance and interest in the game, as well the atmosphere in the RAC.

I have always believed Rutgers should play local schools in the non-conference schedule. This season, Rutgers is playing Seton Hall, Monmouth and Fairleigh Dickinson.  St. Peter's is off the schedule this year after Rutgers lost by 18 points at home last season. NJIT is a rising program that will play any team at anytime, opening this season with Kentucky.  Monmouth has the same philosophy.  Apparently, the philosophy with our basketball program is once we lose to a local mid to low major school, we take our ball and go home.  Hiding from playing these schools does not hide the fact Rutgers is a bad basketball team.  Here is where the KenPom rankings stand as of today:

School Ranking
Seton Hall 47
Monmouth 54
Princeton 119
NJIT 136
Rider 223
St. Peter's 224
Rutgers 260
FDU 279

Embarrassing to say the least.  However, if this mentality continues, Rutgers will not have the chance to prove they are better than these schools in the future.  Beating them is the only way.  Refusing to play them solves nothing and makes the program and the university look plain silly. It also is a terrible example for our players.  Running from adversity in life is not a winning mentality.  Rutgers plays Fairleigh Dickinson on Wednesday, the only Division I school from New Jersey that is ranked lower than the Scarlet Knights.  They better be careful, a win on Wednesday will likely mean they off the schedule for the future as well.