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Rutgers Basketball: Defending the Three

This has been, by far, the biggest issue of the Eddie Jordan era.

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Back in January, Aaron wrote how Rutgers three point shooting was a major problem.  While that remains true, Rutgers three point defense is an even bigger problem.

Yesterday, in Eddie Jordan's post game press conerence, Jordan was asked about the 9 three pointers Ohio State connected on.  Jordan's answer was that the team closed out well on Ohio State's 6'9" shooter, but he was so tall that he had a good look at the basket and could make the shot.

That, however, is factually untrue.  The player who did the most damage from beyond the arc was guard Kam Williams.  He made five threes.  Those threes were wide open.  And here's the kicker:  Williams is 6'2".  The Buckeyes were able to get Williams open multiple times in the game, essentially any time they need to stop Rutgers from getting any closer than 7 points.  By the way, Ohio State ranks 188th in made three pointer percentage this year.

Rutgers defensive strategy since Jordan has taken over has been questionable.  Jordan has decided that defending the rim is more important than defending the arc.  And while Jordan blames that strategy, this year, on injuries, he has used that strategy throughout his tenure.

In fact, when Eddie Jordan was fired from the Wizards, defense was the reason why.  And when Jordan was let go by the 76ers after one season, opponents shot 42% from beyond the arc.  In Jordan's tenure at Rutgers, opponents have shot 37% (302nd in the nation), 33.7 (149th in the nation), and 35% (236th in the nation).  On defense, Jordan's teams have never broken the top 100 in rankings.

That isn't good.

In fact, in conference this season opponents are shooting 39% against Rutgers.  Rutgers is giving up 80 points per game this season, good for 332nd in the nation.  There are only 351 teams.

Rutgers allowed Michigan State to make 17 threes against them this season.  Michigan made 11.  Ohio State made 9.  Opponents this year have made 238 total three point shots against Rutgers this year in 25 games.  Rutgers gives up an average of 9.5 made three point shots a game.  Over 27 points allowed from beyond the arc in each contest.

Eddie Jordan's defensive strategy has not changed throughout his career.  He doesn't worry much about defense, and three point defense is even worse.  And while the coach can pay lip service in his post game press conferences, the numbers prove otherwise.

These days, the three point shot is the why any team can beat any other team on a given night.  Defending the three point shot is a must, and injuries or not, Jordan's philosophy hasn't embraced that idea.  This isn't a one year thing, it's a career trend.

The stats are clear and they haven't improved.  The numbers don't lie.

See the stats for yourself.

Dave White is the author of An Empty Hell, a thriller that isn't set at the RAC.  You can order it here.