When a new coach is hired, they are usually given five years to clean up the mess of the previous coach and put his own stamp on the program.
For Eddie Jordan, year 3 starts now, and it is the most important year of his tenure. This is when the program hits the pivot point on the seesaw and things start to swing back in the positive direction.
For the two previous coaches, year 3 was either the first sign of the apocalypse, or the absolute death knell. Fred Hill brought in a highly regarded recruiting class in year three, and promptly handed the keys to the program to them. They weren't ready, and chemistry problems overtook the squad. The season was a disaster and was the evidence that things would not get better under Hill.
And, Mike Rice? Well, I wrote about how big year three would be for him. But I had no clue the controversy that would explode before us.
Now Eddie Jordan has had two years to clean up the Mike Rice mess. Only one player from Rice's era (and only one from Jordan's first year) is still at Rutgers--Greg Lewis. And Lewis will be leaned on heavily for leadership and to continue to build on the improvement he had last season.
The rest of the squad? The rest of the team is all players recruited by Eddie Jordan, Shoes Vetrone, Mike O'Koren and Van Macon (basically). This is Eddie Jordan's team. The panicked pieces of that 2012-13 squad are gone. The remains of the Mike Rice era is over.
Fans can now see Jordan's vision taking shape.
He has the point guard he's coveted in Corey Sanders. Sander is a highlight machine and Jordan's biggest challenge. Sanders needs to develop and develop quickly under Jordan's watch. He must be able to lead the squad from day 1 of this season. He reports to Piscataway in less than a week, and the development will begin.
There are shooters on this team (Finally). From Justin Goode to Omari Grier to Mike Williams, there are players who can be a threat from the outside. That will only help Rutgers attack from inside. If a team has to defend you on the perimeter, they can't pack the paint.
And that will only help DJ Foreman and Deshawn Freeman--Freeman is a Big Ten ready scorer by all accounts. He will also start right from the beginning. If he can throw down multiple dunks from Sanders, fans will be in for a treat.
Last year, the offense took a nose dive, but the defense really improved from year one. Now that there are more weapons that just Myles Mack and Kadeem Jack (bless them), the offense can step forward too. If the defense can remain the same, Jordan's vision will start to come to fruition. And with Shaquille Doorson and Ibrahima Diallo protecting the rim and Jonathan Laurent's length adding to the press, it seems like the defense will be where they want it.
Year three is already off to a good start for Eddie Jordan. He had super 2016 guard Kwe Parker on campus for an official visit. And Thursday is the big step, when word will hopefully leak out about facility upgrades.
But those two items are still years off.
Right now, Eddie Jordan has to take a step forward on the court. And with the talent he's added, fans should start to see hints of optimism all season.