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Rutgers Basketball: The Practice Facility is Metaphor

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Rutgers just doesn't care about basketball...The team falls to Iowa..

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As I sit here typing this, Greg Lewis just air-balled a free throw and is down 23-8.  Iowa is getting open shots on every possession, and when Rutgers touches the ball they turn it over.

In essence, I wonder what it's going to take for Rutgers to turn things around.

I've written ad nauseum about the need for a brand-new practice facility for Rutgers.  But, in truth it's not about a practice facility specifically.  It's not about building or digging in the dirt and making something shiny and new.  Yes, that would be nice.  It really would, and if Rutgers broke ground tomorrow it would truly help.

But the practice facility isn't as important as breaking ground.

Or doing something.

At some point, Rutgers needs to show it cares about men's basketball.  It has to show that it doesn't want to be the punchline of a joke.  It has to prove they don't want 61 point losses anymore.  Or ridiculous scandals that go viral because of a blizzard... or a real scandal that threatens to tear apart the entire athletic department.

Rutgers has to care.  They have to spend more on recruiting than the women's program.  Or maybe they can step up and spend the dough to hire a top flight assistant coach, one that can support the yeoman's work Jordan, Vetrone and the rest are trying to do on the road.  Rutgers is involved with the top NJ players in the 2016 class right now--at least it sounds like they are... but can they close the deal?

At some point there has to be a moment when Rutgers University as a whole gets fed up.  As much as football, men's basketball is an advertisement for the school.  Athletics are how you draw attention to yourself--too often that attention has been negative.

Eddie is trying.  He's been classy, he's played the hand he's gotten and he's tried to make the team better.  He's trying to groom these players into quality young men.  That's admirable.

But at some point, even classy coaches have to show improvement.  And even administrations have to show that basketball has a role to play.

And this is not calling out just Julie Hermann or Robert Barchi.  It's calling out Rutgers administration...everyone... in "recent" history.

The 24th silent March is coming.  Has anyone made a move to try and change that direction?

That's why I harp about the practice facility.  It's a tangible, visible change in appearance.  Perception is often reality, and Rutgers has to show--just like they did in the early 2000s in football--they have to get better.

Find something that makes us believe again.  Give us a fun advertisement.  Make people excited about Rutgers in March.  For four straight days in early spring, sports fans shut down... But Rutgers hasn't in a long, long time.  The status quo is not okay, nor should it be.  Eddie is trying to fix a program that was very, very broken... but he needs help.  From the players, to administration and even fan support.

And even more importantly, recruits have to believe they're going to be a part of something special.  AAU coaches and high school coaches need to believe they'll be sending their kids to a good, special situation.  Eddie has started that change by talking about the way his kids learn, behave on the court and how the coaches treat their players.

Now, he needs help.

Give fans and recruits a reason to think things are changing.

Even if it's through metaphor.

***

UPDATE: The team came out flat and Rutgers could never get it going.  Iowa blitzed them, and in the second half, Jordan hardly played his starters.

In the postgame press conference, Jordan ripped his starters and told them they wouldn't play for the rest of the year if they don't bring effort.  "You’re right, they didn’t deserve to play. If I don’t see it on Sunday in the first 5 minutes, they’re not gonna play then either."

Jordan was clearly frustrated, and showed it.  There was a sense of urgency in his words.

He ended the press conference saying, "I've had enough."

Rutgers fell to Iowa 81-47.

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