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Rutgers Basketball: On Patience

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Hey, fans. According to Eddie Jordan, we just don't understand.

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Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to patience, Axl Rose ain't got nothin' on me.

Yesterday, Eddie Jordan erupted during a post practice press conference.  When asked about how important it was to get 1 win this season to keep the fans on board, Jordan said fans didn't understand and had to be more patient. He said it's easy to be patient in July and August, but when injuries befall a team, patience goes out the window.

Just a reminder, he was answering a question about getting one conference win.

Let me explain just how patient I've been.

  • It's been 25 years since Rutgers was a part of the NCAA Tournament.  I was eleven then.  The number one song in the country was "Justify My Love" by Madonna.  Kurt Cobain was still alive.
  • I first got season tickets in 2002 and been a fan since 1997 (my freshman year).  Since then I've seen these players leave the program, and have still been patient:  Josh Sankes, Billy Collins, Dahntay Jones, Luis Flores, Todd Billet, Eugene Dabney, Harry Good, Cortez Davis, Mike Sherrod, Jason McCoy, Calvin Wooten, Ollie Bailey, Dan Waterstradt, Manny Quesada, Zach Gibson, Courtney Nelson, Corey Chandler, Earl Pettis, Justin Sofman, Greg Echenique, Patrick Jackson, Christian Morris, Mike Rosario, Muhamed Husani, Brian Okam, Gilvydas Biruta, Austin Carroll, Mike Poole, Eli Carter, Derrick Randall, Jerome Seagears, Vincent Garrett, Logan Kelley, Craig Brown, D'Von Campbell, Junior Etou, Kerwin Okoro and Ryan Johnson.
  • I saw a basketball coach go completely over the line and nearly destroy the athletic department.  I watched Rutgers administration lowball the absolutely perfect candidate for this job.  I've seen money go to football time after time, with basketball being run on the cheap (see the Mike Rice hire). Still, the turnaround was coming, I just knew it.
  • In the past 3 years, I've seen the team lose to: UAB, Drexel, William & Mary, Fairleigh Dickinson, GW, Seton Hall, Princeton, Lousiville, Cincy, Houston, SMU, Uconn, Temple, Memphis, SMU, Louisville, Memphis, UCF, UConn, Cincy, Louisville, GW, St. Peter's, Virginia, Seton Hall, St Francis (PA), Northwestern, Nebraska, Maryland, Minnesota, Michigan, Penn State, Michigan State, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio State, Purdue, Iowa, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, St John's, Creighton, Clemson, Wake Forest, Seton Hall, GW, Monmouth, Indiana, Wisconsin, Maryland, Nebraska, Ohio State, Purdue, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Illinois, and Nebraska. (Hat tip to the Rivals guy who posted this.)
  • 19 of those losses were by 20 or more.  There was a loss--on National TV--by SIXTY ONE POINTS.  And still I've been patient.  Twice in three years, this team has finished under .500 in the out of conference portion of the schedule.  Even Fred Hill didn't do that.  But I was sure this year we were going to see some improvement and not the same old.
  • I've been patient while Jerome Seagears caused chemistry problems in your first year, followed by his subsequent benching.  And, then, when you had to leave Junior Etou home from a game in order to teach him a lesson.  And now this year, when you suspended Deshawn Freeman  from all basketball activities so he could figure out how to be a part of your program.
  • I've watched as you've canceled your oldest rivalry game.  And you may never play Monmouth again either.
  • I've been patient while writers have accused the program of being invisible in recruiting New Jersey.
  • I've donated to the program repeatedly, including twice to the new facility initiative--despite the fact I believe Rutgers is a school first and education should get my donations.. I've paid for season tickets for 15 years.  In those 15 years, Rutgers has had a winning season in two of them.  Two.
  • I've tried to be patient when a ridiculous amount of people in the comments section of this very site have told me I should "just be happy with football and wrestling"--when quite frankly, I can't.  College basketball is my true sports love.  And Rutgers is my school.  I don't have as strong a connection to football and wrestling.  I've stayed true to you, Rutgers basketball.  I've fought for you.
  • I've been patient through 15 wins, 15 wins, 14 wins, 15 wins, 12 wins, 10 wins, and now 6 wins.  That's not trending in the right direction.
  • I've been patient through a season where the team lost by an average of 13.9 points, then followed that up with losing by an average of 14, and now losing by an average of 19.7 points.  Still not trending well.
  • I've been patient.  I even kept my head up when Kwe Parker, one of the most athletic guards I've seen on tape in a long time, committed and then de-committed from this program.  I even thought to myself, hey, they'll win a few games and find someone else.

It's even come to the point where I've lowered my expectations to the point where all I want is fun. My expectations this year?    I wasn't looking for the NIT or the NCAAs, I was looking for a bright spot.  Something to give me optimism.  Instead, they haven't beaten a team in the KenPom top 250 in well over a year.  At full strength, this team still lost to St. John's, Clemson, Creighton and Wake Forest--those aren't world beaters.

A reminder, this team was tied with Division three Rutgers Newark at halftime.  Tied.  This was the game that was scheduled at the beginning of the season to make absolutely sure they didn't tie the record for longest losing streak in program history.  And this team was only up 3 at halftime against Ken Pom's worst team in the country--Central Connecticut State.

They've set records for the two worst home losses in team history.  I was patient through that.

While you can't blame Eddie for the entire past 25 years, there needs to be some sense of urgency.  Some desire to win.

Have the injuries hurt?  Of course they have.  Would this team be better?  Probably, but by how much?

My guess?

Instead of losing by 50 points, they would have lost by 20.  Maybe they find their way to three Big Ten wins.  But the evidence is clear, it's not only the injuries that is the problem.  The fact that this team still gives up a ridiculous amount of open three pointers and-beyond Corey Sanders-can't make a shot is a problem.  The fact that this team has twice let double digit leads slip away, and then had questionable end game strategies--that is a problem.

Is it easy to be patient in June, July or August?  Of course it is.

It's even easy to be patient when you're losing if you can point to even one silver lining.  Right now, it feels like patience is futile.  Corey Sanders has been wonderful, but it's still not enough.

I can be patient, I think I've proven I'm a patient fan.  In fact, the fans who've stuck around through 25 years of no-NCAA, embarrassing losses, and heart breaking scandals are more than patient.

But at some point that patience has to pay off.  At some point, you have to give us a reason to believe.  One big win in 3 years isn't enough, not when the stats and the eye test don't show many more are coming.  It's becoming increasingly clear that Wisconsin was the blip and all the other losses are the norm.  I hate being negative, but it's hard to see anything positive beyond the play of Sanders.

So, while you may think we don't understand, Mr. Jordan, it's clear we do.  I know you don't "give a crap" however.

We're still not happy.  Sorry, now, patience is just not enough.  How long can we wait for a silver lining in the win column?

Please help, Pat Hobbs.

Dave White is the author of the Jackson Donne series of thrillers.  His latest, An Empty Hell, is available now.  He has used royalties from his books to donate to the basketball program and to pay for his season tickets.  Feel free to help that cause out by ordering the book.