After a 15 game losing streak to end the season, one of the longest in Rutgers history, a lot of fans were sold on Eddie Jordan. And not in the way Rutgers would have hoped.
But, look at it this way, Rutgers fans may be-gasp-wrong.
Because, good or bad, we don't really know what kind of coach Eddie Jordan is yet. We know this--he is loyal, he wants to win, and he bleeds scarlet. But the first two years of Jordan's tenure might not truly show Jordan's coaching acumen. Remember, year one was a scramble to put talent together. A year where, while the team was able to score, you never felt they were playing together. When they got hot it looked pretty, when they didn't--yuck.
And then Jordan purged half the roster and rebuilt again.
And he had a team that seemed to be closer together, but was desperately thin at key positions. Jordan had no choice but to run Myles Mack and Kadeem Jack out there for 38 minutes a night, and after the Wisconsin upset both seemed to be playing at half speed. He also had Junior Etou playing out of position, and he never seemed to fit either.
So, while it's coach's job to put the roster together, it seems that starting after a scandal and starting so late in the recruiting period put Jordan two years behind the eight ball. And now that's all been righted.
Jordan has his team, and one with depth at guard and the two forward positions. While he's short a wing (something that will be addressed in 2016 recruiting undoubtedly), with only freshman Jonathan Laurent to man the spot, it's easier in college hoops to go 3 guards over 3 forwards.
And this season, fans might actually see 40 minutes of Eddie Jordan basketball--something they've only seen spurts of in the first two seasons. Jordan clearly wants to press for the majority of the game, but never had the height and length to do it. When he did last season (notably when players he recruited were on the floor), it often flummoxed opponents and led to easy baskets.
Now with the quick Corey Sanders at point, look for that strategy to become even more prominent. And Jordan now has the pieces to rely on the 3 point shot more, something that will make the team even more dangerous.
Does that mean this team will be an NCAA squad overnight? No, the process is longer than that, and it's wise for Rutgers fans to keep an eye on 2016 recruiting. If SHOES, Van, and Jordan can break through and land Kwe Parker and Deriante Jenkins, the corner may be turned.
Myles Mack and Kadeem Jack will always be Rutgers heroes, players who stayed and performed during one of the most tumultuous eras in Rutgers history. But it's clear that Jordan needed to add more than Mack and Jack going forward, and those players needed to fit Jordan's style and vision.
There is more length on this team, and there are hints even more is coming. The 2015-16 Rutgers basketball team may not be consistent world beaters, but maybe Jordan is better than the first two years and we are about to find that out.
Maybe we will see more Vanderbilt, Clemson and Wisconsin style games going forward.
And, if we do, basketball is going to be fun again.