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Rutgers Men's Basketball Preview: Central Connecticut State

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

How To Watch:

TV: 6pm on BTN

Radio: Rutgers IMG Radio Network WOR (710 AM) & WCTC (1450 AM); WRSU (88.7 FM); Sirius Radio channel 145; XM Radio channel 195

About Central Connecticut State

The Blue Devils come into tonight's game with an 0-7 record, including losses to Penn by 16 points, Boston College by 25 points, and Fordham by 32 points.  They are a bad shooting team, averaging only 39% from the field, 28% from three-point range and 63% from the free throw line.  They are led by junior guard Khalen Cumberlander, who leads them in points, assists, steals, minutes played and is second in rebounding.  He averages 14 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 1+ steals a game. Surprisingly for a guard, Cumberlander is shooting just 54% from the free throw line. Senior forward Brandon Peel leads them down low, averaging 11 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 1+ block a game. Their only other player who scores in double figures is freshman guard Austin Nehls, who averages 11 points and 4 rebounds a game. Both Cumberlander and Nehls are 6'3" and will have a height advantage on Rutgers guards.

Keys To The Game

Get Bishop Daniels Back on Track

The past two games against Wake Forest and Seton Hall, Daniels has scored just 2 points on 1-8 shooting in 16 total minutes of play.  The issue with Daniels is that if he isn't scoring, he typically contributes minimally in other categories.  He only had 1 assist and 2 rebounds in the past two games combined.  There haven't been any indications he is playing hurt, so tonight Daniels needs to snap out of his recent funk.  Daniels is the only non-freshman or sophomore in the backcourt and needs to lead on the court.  He needs to focus on getting back on track tonight!

Work on the Press

There was a lot of speculation before the season as to how much Rutgers would utilize the fullcourt press on defense.  Eddie Jordan was non-committal and now we know why.  Rutgers has been largely ineffective when they have pressed and has scaled back how much they have used it in their past two games.    The fullcourt press could be a potentially important weapon for Rutgers to use in conference play, but so far it has been a liability.  Tonight would be a good opponent to work on their press and see if they can be more effective in their execution.

Laurent and Goode

Both freshman have shown flashes of potential at times this season, and the quicker they can develop, the better off this team will be. They both average 16 minutes a game but help the team in different ways.  Laurent is ultra athletic and can be aggressive slashing his way to the rim.  He has also been an effective rebounder, averaging 4 boards a game off the bench. Laurent has seen his playing time increase the past two games, averaging 24 minutes and producing 8 points and 5 rebounds a game. He may be on the verge of breaking out, especially with the opportunity for more minutes with the absence of Deshawn Freeman. With an injury set to be reevaluated next week, D.J. Foreman has been forced into the 4 role full time, opening up the wing spot for Laurent.

Goode has been a steady influence off the bench, playing within the offense and demonstrating strong passing skills. He came to Rutgers with a reputation as a lights out shooter, but it's the one aspect of his game he has yet to display.  Eddie mentioned early on in the season that he trusted Goode and has made a point to put him on the court during critical minutes of games.  As Goode becomes more comfortable, hopefully he starts looking to take more shots and gets into a rhythm.  Rutgers is shooting just 28% from three-point range and desperately need help in that area.

Get the Win

The most important part of tonight is to get a win in any shape or form possible.  Rutgers is in the midst of a four game losing streak, with the 1 point loss to Wake Forest the only game they came close to winning.  With George Washington and Monmouth the next two games to follow, winning tonight is a must!  It will be interesting to see how the team responds coming off Saturday's embarrassing blowout loss at home to rival Seton Hall.  If they come out aggressive and ready to play, it's a great sign this team is focused.  However, if they come out flat against a winless opponent, it would be disappointing.  Hopefully seniors Greg Lewis, Omari Grier and Daniels set the tone early and Rutgers wins comfortably.  But the truth is just win, no matter how ugly!