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Meet The New Guys Part I: Aaron Breitman

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Geoff Billet
Geoff Billet
Ken White/Getty Images

This week we will be posting a three part series introducing the new contributors of On The Banks.  Today is my turn and I am proud and excited to be a part of this site.  I will be the main basketball contributor moving forward as Dave White has stepped down to focus on other things.  Obviously, I have big shoes to fill as I along with many of you, have enjoyed his coverage over the years.  Dave will still be contributing here and there and has already been a big help to me.  Thank you Dave and I look forward to celebrating future triumphs of Rutgers basketball with you in the years to come!

As for myself, I have grown up with Rutgers most of my life.  My family moved from North Carolina to New Jersey in 1982 because my father started working at the university.  Since the age of five I have attended many games in several sports.  I love the university and am proud to be a Class of 2000 graduate of Rutgers College.

I am a true sports fanatic with Rutgers sports being my first love.   Over the years I have been to many football games including the inaugural Big East game when we beat Boston College and the famous "Pandemonium in Piscataway" victory over Louisville.  I was lucky to follow Rutgers soccer when the great Alexi Lalas played, freezing through the 1989 Final Four loss at Rutgers Stadium.  However, basketball has always been my favorite as I played as a kid through high school.  As a way to introduce myself and my passion for Rutgers Basketball, here are the most memorable games I have attended:

March 9th, 1989: Rutgers defeats TTFP in the Atlantic 10 Championship at the RAC

The first big game I ever attended and the last time Rutgers won a conference tournament championship in men’s basketball.  My first true RAC experience as the noise was deafening, I sat behind the basket across from the Rutgers bench.  To make it even sweeter, we defeated TTFP to complete a Cinderella run to advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 6 years.  They lost to Iowa in the 1st round as a 13th seed. 

December 7th, 1991: Rutgers defeats UNLV at the RAC

Rutgers started 2-0 and hosted Coach Jerry Tarkanian the season after leading UNLV to back to back Final Fours.  Sure, this team was on probation and all the big stars were gone.  However, the week before they took down a Shaquille O’Neal led LSU team by 21 and went 25-2 for the season.  They lost to Rutgers that night 91-85 in a wild game.  With an exciting start to the season and after winning the A-10 and making the NCAA tourney the previous year, they fell apart.  RU suffered a six game losing streak mid-season and faltered to a 16-15 finish.

March 5th, 1998: Rutgers defeats Georgetown in the Big East Quarterfinals at MSG

Simply known as "The Billet Game", I sat in the lower level of the Garden.  The last second shot went in right in front of me.  Georgetown went down and UCONN fans were celebrating with us, happy to see the Hoyas fall.  It was the only time Rutgers advanced to the Big East semifinals in eighteen tries, where we lost by 14 to UCONN the next night and finished 14-15. 

March 4th, 1999: Rutgers loses to St. John’s in the Big East Quarterfinals at MSG

Rutgers finished 6th in Big East for the regular season, the best finish in our history in the conference.  We were 18-11 entering the quarterfinals against the #3 seed St. Johns and firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble.   It was a huge game and Billet’s senior season, this was the moment Rutgers would return to march madness.  Instead we came out flat and lost by 15.  This one still haunts me.  They lost to Clemson in the 2nd round of the NIT.

February 9th, 2000: Rutgers loses to Seton Hall at the RAC

It was my senior year and I had the bright idea to get my friends and me to paint ourselves red for the game. It was on ESPN and I guaranteed them all we would be on TV during a big win against blood rival Seton Hall.  We were 12-9 at the time and needed this win desperately to keep our NCAA tourney hopes alive.  Seton Hall was 16-4 at the time and eventually went to the Sweet 16 that season.  The night did not go as planned.  We bought the wrong type of paint which became painful.  It was packed and we ended up near the top of the student section so we never made it on TV. We lost a heartbreaker 65-63 after blowing an 8 point lead in OT .  I can still hear the Hall fans chanting and celebrating as we walked out.  I didn’t enter the real world until June with my first job, but it felt like college ended that night.

March 9th, 2010: Rutgers loses to Cincinnati in the Big East Tourney at MSG

The last game of the Fred Hill and Mike Rosario era!  We were 15-16 entering the Big East 1st round and needed a miracle run to make the postseason.  We lost 69-68 to Cincinnati and another frustrating and disappointing season was in the books.  Rosario, the only McDonalds All-American in Rutgers history, transferred out shortly after.  Hill was then fired after the bizarre shouting incident during a RU-Pitt baseball game.  Strange ending to a hopeful hire with Hill that ended ugly and left fans wondering if it will ever get better, me included.

I am excited to be covering the Rutgers Basketball program on this site.  I look forward to celebrating the victories and commiserating over the losses with all of you.  Do you remember any of these games?  Were you there with me?  Did I once spill a beer on you after a bad call?  Please share the most memorable Rutgers basketball games you have been at over the years.  And remember, only six months till the new season begins!!