It's the heart of summer and we are still three months away from the start of practice for the upcoming season. We figured it was a good time to collaborate on an all-decade team for the 2000's. Without further ado, here are the best that played for Rutgers from the 1999-2000 season through the 2009-2010 season.
DW: I remember when 2003-04 began, Rutgers was reeling a bit. They were unable to get point guard Antwi Atuahene (sp?) on campus--and that kid was supposed to run the show. It appeared that Juel Wiggan was going to run the point, and Wiggan had been a career back-up. So when Webb stepped on campus, word started to roll down that Webb--predicted to be a wing player--had started running the point, I was tentative. But Webb learned quickly and kept a team that had NCAA aspirations calm and organized on the floor. He was also the team's best defender for four years. While he never developed into a major scorer, Webb was a key Big East player for four years at Rutgers.
AB: Webb was the definition of rock steady. He was an unselfish leader and a defensive stalwart. Webb was the coach on the floor for Gary Waters, directing the team on both ends. His numbers are not gaudy but his importance was immense. He did eclipse the 1,000 point plateau in his third to last game for Rutgers, averaging over 8 points per game for his career. Most importantly, Webb was the heart and soul of the program the four years he was there, including the last two winning seasons we have had.
DW: What can you say about Quincy Douby? Honestly, the best offensive player to step on the banks in the last decade, if not more. Douby was in the same recruiting class as Marquis Webb and was known as a dead eye shooter. But as Douby developed, not only did his range get even deeper, but he added a floater that made him basically un-defendable. My favorite memory of Douby is a lesser known one. In the 2006 Big East Tournament, Douby torched Villanova in the first half. So much so that Jay Wright decided to *triple* team him. No one else could score for Rutgers in that game, and the Scarlet Knights fell, but what a measure of respect for a great player.
AB: Douby was the Big East scoring champion for the 2005-2006 season and the only Rutgers player ever named to the First Team All-Big East conference team. That season Douby averaged over 25 points a game, along with 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 1 block a game. He scored 18 or more points in every game that season except one. My lasting memory was the gut wrenching loss at Syracuse in overtime, when Douby hit 9 three-pointers and scored 41 points. He missed one at the buzzer and we lost by two. It was a heartbreaker coming so close, but with Douby we always had the chance to beat any team on any given night. That season was the last winning team Rutgers has had, finishing 19-14. Though he left early for the NBA after his junior season, Douby finished 2nd all-time in three-point field goals made with 251 and 6th all-time in scoring with 1,690 points.
DW: Ricky Shields... what can you say about Ricky Shields? He was often over looked. A great shooter in his own right, Shields was a solid sidekick for his four years on campus. Too often he was on teams that were marred by chemistry problems, or he played with players who weren't happy to pass him the ball. Shields had some memorable moments as well, and he loved to chuck 'em up. Had he hit a 3 pointer that would have put Rutgers up TEN against UConn (#1 UConn) in 2003, Rutgers likely wins that game.
AB: Shields is actually 10th on the Rutgers all-time scoring list with 1,579 career points. And yet he only led the team in scoring once, his junior year when Rutgers lost to Michigan in the NIT championship game. His career was sandwiched between Jerome Coleman and Quincy Douby, resulting in his legacy being less remembered than it should be. Shields is also the all-time leader in three-point field goals made and attempted, and he never met a shot he didn't like. He was a great athlete and finished his career averaging 4 rebounds a game, impressive for a 6'4" shooting guard.
DW: What I remember about Kent is how in Gary Waters' first year as coach, the small power forward/center, was the key. He kept everyone on that team in line. While Jerome Coleman and Herve Lamizana get the accolades, Kent was the X factor. He could bang bodies with the best of them and he had great hands for easy lay-ups and rebounds.
AB: Kent was the bridge in Rutgers era's, starting under Kevin Bannon and playing with Geoff Billet, Dahntay Jones, and Joel Salvi in the late nineties to finishing his career at the beginning of the Gary Waters era. At 6'6" Kent played like a small dog who didn't know any better against the bigger dogs of the Big East down low. He willed and muscled his way to finish 2nd in rebounds and 5th in blocks in the conference his senior season. He was a rock of consistency and an anchor in the paint during his career. Kent averaged a double double his senior year with just over 10 points and 10 rebounds along with 2 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals per game. He is the all-time leader for Rutgers with a 60.3% career field goal percentage and 4th all-time in career rebounds with 910.
DW: HERVEEEEEEE! Long, athletic, able to dunk or hit the three. Who could forget this kid? Herve was so much fun to watch, and his banked 3 against Syracuse to beat Carmelo's team, or his late 3 to beat Providence in 2004 are etched in my mind. Herve deserved to be on an NCAA squad, and had he stayed one more year, I think he could have be the leader of a team that could have gotten there. But he left a year early, and left Rutgers fans with some great memories.
AB: I agree with Dave, in that Herve was one of the most fun and memorable Rutgers players to watch as he played with youthful enthusiasm. He could pretty much make any basketball play on the court and even hit 60 career 3-pointers at 6'10". He was a defensive force down low, averaging 3 blocks a game for his career and finishing 4th all-time with 246 in only three seasons. His junior season, Herve averaged over 13 points and close to 8 rebounds along with 3 blocks, 2 assists and 1 steal per game. I was upset he left early and thought he was on the verge of making the leap to greatness his senior season. He left and the program suffered, finishing 10-19 the next season.
DW: N'Diaye... the bright spot in otherwise dark Fred Hill era. Hamady was a defensive force inside for most of his four years. He kept Fred Hill's teams from being blown out every single night, because he could guard the rim. He never had great hands so he didn't develop into a superstar, but he was a great Rutgers player and one who made the NBA fringes.
AB: N'Diaye was the Big East Defensive Player of the Year his senior season in 2009-2010, when he averaged a ridiculous 4.5 blocks per game. N'Diaye became the all-time leader at Rutgers in the last game of his career, blocking 5 in a Big East Tournament loss to Cincinnati. When he wasn't blocking shots, N'Diaye was altering them and took away the paint from the other team with a vengeance. He was serviceable on the offensive end towards the latter part of his career, but his ability to change the game defensively is what got him selected in the 2nd round of the NBA draft.
DW: To be honest, I don't remember much of Mr. Greer. He could score and he always tried to outplay his Pittsburgh brother. Greer could score, but he never had enough talent surrounding him to push the team forward.
AB: Greer was solid but not spectacular during his time at Rutgers. He made the Big East all-Freshman team and there was hope he would emerge a star later in his career. Greer never rose to that level but he was consistent, averaging over 10 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal in every season. He is 15th all-time in scoring with 1,394 points.
DW: Jerome giveth (2001-02) and Jerome taketh away (2002-03). Coleman could light up a team from half court, basically and in his first year on the banks, he did against the best talent. But too often, Jerome got caught up in his own successes and took bad shots. Coleman put together one of the best seasons on the banks in his first year, but the JUCO transfer couldn't capitalize on it in year 2.
AB: The only JUCO transfer on this list, Coleman was a lot of things in his two years on the banks. Boring was certainly not one of them. He was the go to guy on the 2001-2002 team that had that magical run at the RAC, beating UCONN, Syracuse, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Miami, and Seton Hall there. He averaged over 16 points in both his seasons at Rutgers, but as Dave said his senior season was a letdown. He was always a streaky shooter and when he was on, we could beat anyone. Unfortunately he had more off nights his senior year, but the memories remain.
DW: I loved Gary. The man could coach and he could coach defense well. While his teams relied on the 3 point play, and tough grind em out defense, it meant he could get beat on any given night. However, Waters knew the power of the RAC and how turnovers and 3 pointers could rally a crowd. His teams were always great at home, and even in bad years they'd knock off a top ranked team or two. But in his best years, he could never carry the home success over to the road. Of course, in 2003-04, one missed box out against Virginia Tech kept him from getting the Scarlet Knights to the tournament. So close.
AB: Waters was by far the most successful Rutgers coach in the 2000's, posting winning records in three of his five seasons. However, he couldn't make that jump to the NCAA Tournament, qualifying for the NIT each time instead. In 2002, he had Rutgers at 18-9 before losing the last four games of the season. In 2004, the team was 16-9 before losing three in a row before an unexpected run to the NIT championship game. In 2006, they started 11-3 but couldn't manage the Big East schedule and fell short again. Regardless, Waters is the last head coach to post a winning record for their career at Rutgers since legendary coach Tom Young in the seventies and eighties.
DISCLAIMER: Transfers were disqualified from the all-decade team. This includes Dahntay Jones, Todd Billet, Luis Flores, Gregory Echenique and Mike Rosario. Every one of them went on to play in the NCAA tournament after leaving Rutgers.