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Rutgers Men's Basketball: The Case Against Eddie Jordan

A lack of talent and facilities are not the reasons for the lack of success Rutgers has had on the court under coach Eddie Jordan.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, the Rutgers men's basketball team suffered its worse loss ever at the RAC and worse home defeat since 1961. Rutgers is down to a seven man rotation, with frontcourt players Deshawn Freeman, Ibrahima Diallo and Shaq Doorson out indefinitely and wing Jonathan Laurent still recovering from a concussion. There is no doubt that coach Eddie Jordan is at a major disadvantage with the limited depth he has at his disposal.  However, the argument that he currently doesn't have enough talent on the roster and hasn't previously, is something I strongly disagree with. The idea that Eddie Jordan needs a five year plan to restore the program is good in theory, but the reality is the program has regressed the past three seasons under his leadership.

The big argument for Eddie Jordan is that he has been held back in recruiting because of the lack of facilities that are currently in place.  Of course, there is some truth to that, but to say that it has prevented him from landing talented recruits is not reality. Let's look at each recruiting class he has brought in, along with transfers he added, as well as the talent he inherited on the roster.

(Note: All ratings and rankings are from 247 sports, listed by overall national ranking out of 351 teams and conference ranking out of 14 teams.)

2013 class (96th; 12th):

3-star Junior Etou

No star D'Von Campbell

No star Craig Brown

Walk-on Khalil Batie

Eddie Jordan came on board in April of 2013, so he had virtually no time to put together a recruiting class for his debut season.  With the surrounding controversy from the Mike Rice scandal, any player Eddie landed that became a key player would have been an absolute bonus.  It didn't work out, as Campbell and Brown transferred out after one season and Etou after two seasons.  Batie is still on the team and a solid walk-on player. Transfer players that Eddie brought in with this class were Pitt graduate transfer J.J. Moore and Iowa State transfer Kerwin Okoro. They are not included in recruiting rankings, but both were 3-star recruits out of high school.  Even without them being counted in, the recruiting class was ranked in the 27th percentile in the country.  A solid effort on paper for Jordan, on top of landing two transfers from quality programs.

2014 class (63rd; 9th):

3-star D.J. Foreman

3-star Mike Williams

3-star Ibrahima Diallo

3-star Shaq Doorson

3-star Ryan Johnson

Walk-on Jake Dadika

The 2014 class was good work by Jordan and staff, landing five players who were rated 3-stars. Johnson didn't work out and transferred last summer. The other four are a work in progress which we will discuss in a minute. However, it's important to note that the class ranked in the 18th percentile for Division I programs. This does not include Bishop Daniels, who was a JUCO transfer. He was a consensus three-start recruit out of high school and attended Miami (FL) before transferring out after one season.

2015 class (47th; 9th):

4-star Corey Sanders

3-star Deshawn Freeman

3-star Jonathan Laurent

3-star Justin Goode

Eddie and staff followed up a solid 2014 class with an even better 2015 class, putting their ranking in the 13th percentile for Division I programs. Obviously, it is too early to determine whether this class will be a success, but there is no doubting the talent. For comparison in the Big Ten, according to 247 conference rankings, Rutgers has ranked ahead of Iowa in each of the past three seasons. They have ranked ahead of Northwestern and Wisconsin twice. Think about that for a second.  Rutgers has consistently out-recruited Iowa, a program that has gone 54-28 in the past two plus seasons, including consecutive NCAA tournament appearances and projecting towards a third this season. In 2011, before Eddie took over, Rutgers had the 25th ranked class and Iowa had the 89th ranked class. While two members of that class transferred after the Rice scandal, Eddie kept five in Mack, Jack, Seagears, Kone, and Lewis. The difference is Iowa coach Fran McCaffery has maximized his talent and Jordan has seen his 3-star players underachieve.

Wisconsin's team from last season that lost in the championship game, starred Frank Kaminsky, a 3-star recruit who went on to become the national college player of the year and was drafted in the 1st round of the NBA draft. Good coaches take talent and make them better.

I know star ratings and recruiting rankings are by no means an exact science.  However, they are the best indicator there is in measuring talent and should be used in evaluating how coaches develop that talent. While the first year Eddie took over was beyond challenging and he was unable to land an impact class, it should have been easily his most difficult season. This is where the five year plan comes into question. Let's look at the star rated players that Eddie has had to work with in his three seasons as head coach.

2013-2014 Roster: Three 4-star players (Myles Mack, Jerome Seagears, Wally Judge); Six 3-star players (Kadeem Jack, J.J. Moore, Kerwin Okoro, Greg Lewis, Malick Kone, Junior Etou).

2014-2015 Roster: One 4-star player (Myles Mack); Nine 3-star players (Kadeem Jack, Kerwin Okoro, Greg Lewis, Malick Kone, Junior Etou, Mike Williams, D.J. Foreman, Shaq Doorson, Bishop Daniels).

2015-2016 Roster: One 4-star player (Corey Sanders); Nine 3-star players (Greg Lewis, Mike Williams, D.J. Foreman, Bishop Daniels, Deshawn Freeman, Jonathan Laurent, Justin Goode, Ibrahima Diallo, Shaq Doorson).

Every season, there have been no less than nine players on the roster with a 3-star recruiting ranking or better.  With thirteen scholarships available each season, you would like to have the number of 3-star rated players or better in double figures.  However, the cupboard has been far from dry. The reason to question whether Eddie Jordan is the right coach to turn things around is not his recruiting.  It's his coaching, both in games and in developing his players.  Kadeem Jack, Greg Lewis and Bishop Daniels are examples of three-star recruits that haven't improved under Jordan.  Jack was inconsistent his entire career, never becoming a reliable star or NBA ready on Jordan's watch . The argument with Lewis from some is he isn't talented enough for the Big Ten.  Lewis was ranked the 16th best center in his class by rivals, with offers from Georgia, Maryland, Colorado and Xavier, in addition to Rutgers.  Read this scouting report on Daniels from Leigh Klein, former college assistant and current owner of Five Star Basketball Camps. Daniels has been turnover prone and a limited shooter his entire career, but has never improved on either under Jordan's tutelage.

Williams and Foreman are two players that have shown slight improvement this season, but haven't made the leap necessary to bring this team to the next level.  Diallo and Doorson have been injured and haven't had time to grow as players yet. Laurent and Goode have shown glimpses of potential, especially Laurent, and there progress the rest of the season will be important to watch.  Most importantly, is the development of Sanders, who has taken a step back his last three games.  I'm not blaming Eddie for that, just pointing out that Sanders progress will be a direct reflection of Eddie's coaching of him.

Eddie Jordan has had some things go against him, including moving past the Rice scandal, a lack of facilities, and injuries this season. However, it shouldn't discount the fact that he hasn't done a good job developing talent during his tenure. Recruiting was actually pretty solid the past two seasons, with Rutgers having an average recruiting ranking of 55th in the country the past two years, good for 9th in B1G conference. It hasn't translated on the court in the slightest, in regards to performance, record and rankings.

In the past three seasons under Jordan, Rutgers has had an RPI in 2013-2014 that was 196 with a 1-12 record against the top 100. In 2014-2015, it was 177 with an 1-17 record against the top 100, and this season it is 239 with an 0-7 record against the top 100. The past three seasons, Rutgers has had a KenPom rating of 166 in 2013-2014, 215 in 2014-2015, and is 277 so far this season. Their RPI rankings and KenPom ratings are far worse than their recruiting rankings, which should be viewed as an indicator that the talent Rutgers has is not fulfilling it's potential. Last night, Rutgers lost by 34 points to a Nebraska team that had a 195 RPI ranking and a KenPom rating of 111. Losing is one thing, being completely non-competitive is the sign of a major problem.

Rutgers has now lost 19 conference games in a row. In their last ten games this season, they have lost by 20+ points five times, including 29+ points three times. If you want to use injuries as the only reason, you would be wrong. With ten scholarship players, including now injured Deshawn Freeman and Ibrahima Diallo, Rutgers lost by 2 points to St. John's (KenPom 224th) and 18 points to Clemson (KenPom 90th). They lost 15 games in a row in the Big Ten last season with one of the best players in Rutgers history in Myles Mack, and D-League player Kadeem Jack, with a supporting cast of 3-star recruits on the roster.

The real question now is what will new athletic director Patrick Hobbs decide regarding Jordan's future, as he has indicated he will wait until the end of the season to evaluate the program. Eddie is in his third season of a five year contract. A head coach only having only two years left on a contract is a death knell in recruiting circles.  Hobbs either needs to extend Jordan after the season or decide to move on.

Next year, Eddie is scheduled to make $1.45 million plus $100,000 for a retention bonus. For the 2017-18 season, he is scheduled to make $1.5 million. If Jordan is fired, he's owed 70% of his contract assuming he exerts a reasonable effort to find other employment. If he's fired at the end of this season, Jordan wouldn’t get the retention bonus and he would be owed $2.065 million. If Hobbs retains him through next year and then decides to fire him, Jordan would get $1.55 million and then would be owed a buy out of $1.050 million, totaling a payout of 2.6 million. So Hobbs would save 535,000 if he decides to let Jordan go after this season.

Rutgers has gone from 12-21 in 2013, to 10-22 in 2014, and is currently 6-11 in 2015. Other than Nebraska, the best chance for Rutgers to win a conference game is against Minnesota, who they play twice. It's realistic to think they will go winless in conference play. Things are getting worse and it isn't because of the lack of facilities.  The more Eddie has brought in his own players and instituted his development plan, the worse the team has gotten. The fact is he has done a good job of bringing in talent, but a poor job of developing it.

When you have the greatest team in school history in the building, against a winnable opponent, giving such a poor effort as they did last night is a direct reflection on the coach. Eddie summed it up best after the game, when the results aren't there, it's the effort that truly matters. And when the effort isn't there, on top of a lack of results, regardless of injury, it's time for a change. The argument against the five year plan is that if you see fundamental problems that are trending the wrong way, more time doesn't solve them.  It's better to pull the plug and start over.  With a new athletic director at the helm, and momentum building for new facilities, it's time for a new vision and leader of the men's basketball program.