The 2015-2016 Rutgers Scarlet Knights men's basketball team's season ended on the evening of Wednesday, March 9th, 2016. The team was led by head coach Eddie Jordan and comprised of players Greg Lewis, Bishop Daniels, Omari Grier, Mike Williams, D.J. Foreman, Ibrahima Diallo, Deshawn Freeman, Corey Sanders, Jonathan Laurent, Justin Goode, Khalil Batie, Jake Dadika, and Jalen Hyde. The team resided at the RAC in Piscataway, New Jersey in an environment once known to be full of life, but this season the atmosphere was closer to a morgue. The team lost their final game of the season in the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis, Indiana to the 11th seed Nebraska by the score of 89-72. Their demise continued to be a lack of perimeter defense, inefficient offense, and an inability to make adjustments against their opponents.
Their season began full of optimism and hope for progress on October 13th, 2015. Eddie Jordan and staff had built a team made up of twelve scholarship players. Transfer Nigel Johnson had to sit out the season and Sophomore Shaq Doorson missed the entire season due to injury. The 13th available scholarship was left open, something that came back to haunt this team once so many injuries occurred.
Their season started out shaky immediately, as they were tied with Division III Rutgers-Newark at the first half of their first game of the season. After blowing a 16 point second half lead to St. John's, Rutgers was swept in Las Vegas in double digit losses to Clemson and Creighton. Rutgers broke a cardinal sin and did not follow the credo, "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas", as the losing not only continued, but got worse. They were embarrassed at home soon after against their arch rival Seton Hall, losing by 29 points. They lost by 34 points on the road against George Washington. They suffered the worst home defeat in program history, losing to Purdue by 50 points. They lost three times to 11th place Nebraska, allowing an average of 89 points a game and had an average margin of defeat by 25 points.
Injuries and suspensions were definitely a major factor on the failures of this team. Shaq Doorson missed the entire season. Deshawn Freeman led the team in scoring the first 7 games, only to get injured and miss the rest of the season. Ibrahima Diallo missed 17 games. All are frontcourt players, severely depleting the depth of this team. Freshman Jonathan Laurent missed a key 5 game stretch in the middle of the season after suffering a concussion. And then there was the suspension of star Corey Sanders for a violation of team rules, who missed the most winnable four game stretch of the Big Ten season. On top of that, Freeman has been suspended indefinitely from the program.
They were put to rest with a 7-25 record overall and endured a program record 17 game losing streak. That included a 32 game conference losing streak dating back to last season. They are now 3-35 in the Big Ten in two seasons, including both tournament games. It was the fewest wins in a season for the program since they went 7-22 in 1987-1988.
This team is survived by athletic director Patrick Hobbs, who is hungry to make a change and improve the sad state of affairs that currently exist. They are also survived by a tortured, ailing fanbase that has now endured 10 consecutive losing seasons, 25 consecutive seasons without an NCAA Tournament berth, and decades of administrative neglect of the men's basketball program. During this stretch of futility, Rutgers has been led by five athletic directors and six head coaches.
There will be no memorial service for this team, just mourn in a similar fashion to how you did during the actual season. Counseling and therapy is provided by reading and commenting through our On The Banks website. There has been a memorial fund set up, called the RFund, that is anxiously awaiting donations to help raise money to construct a dedicated basketball practice facility. A lack of facilities is not the reason why this team performed so poorly, but it will certainly help recruiting efforts and the long term future of the program. For now we say good bye to this team and thank the players for their service to Rutgers. The 2015-2016 season is now over.