Trouble Against the Zone: Now you see why Rutgers will likely struggle in the Big Ten. Teams are going to throw zones against Rutgers and force them make shots from the outside. The really long teams will frustrate the Scarlet Knights’ ability to get to the rim of pass the ball to the big men. Until Rutgers becomes consistent from outside (and at one point they were 1 for 12 from 3), they will struggle. And those long arms of the defense will cause turnovers. Buuuuuuuuut, there is a way Rutgers can hang in against those teams.
Block Party: The game turned when Rutgers turned up the defense. There was a stretch of about 4 possessions in a row where Rutgers had a block on each time down to the defensive end of the court. The exciting part of that—nearly all the blocks stayed in bounds and ended up in the hands of Rutgers players. That’s huge and helps you get out on the fast break. When you struggle offensively, like Rutgers did for the first half tonight, the fast break (and free throws) can keep you in games.
Coaching Adjustments: Steve Pikiell has no problem adjusting mid-game. He adjusts his defense as the game goes on, and tonight he got his players to close out much better. That forced North Texas to drive to the hoop where the big men of Rutgers waited to deflect the shot. Also, Rutgers still dominated on the glass, which kept them in the game and then helped them pulls away.
Mike Williams: The kid is turning himself into a major glue guy. When his shot isn’t falling, it doesn’t matter. He’s everywhere else on the court. Blocking shots, grabbing rebounds, and making smart passes. The kid helps teams win. And if he starts hitting the three with regularity? So happy Mike stuck around.
BONUS—A Personal Note: I’ve had season tickets for 14 years. Every game I want to be in the Lucky Row and never, ever have. Tonight—TONIGHT—I couldn’t make the game for personal reasons (everything is fine). And what do I find out? MY ROW WON THE LUCKY ROW AND I DID NOT GET ANY POPCORN. What the hell?