Great game plan: Steve Pikiell and company had a great game plan in place for Rutgers and for 35 minutes, the team executed it to perfection. They contained Jok, they got open shots and they got the stops they needed. You can have faith that once Rutgers gets things going (and that’s probably years from now), the Scarlet Knights will be well prepared, both on the road.
Iowa’s defense: Down 8, with less than 10 minutes left, Iowa decided to press and get really active to try and turn Rutgers over. This really messed the Scarlet Knights up on offense. Rutgers decided to go to a guard game and either attack the basket or shoot threes. But, when they attacked the basket, they didn’t get the calls (whether or not they deserved them is debatable) and they can’t shoot threes so... ouch.
Rutgers Big Men: Big time mixed bag here. Deshawn Freeman was scoring on put backs and going to the basket. But Rutgers—and part of this, I think, was by design from Iowa—went away from Deshawn. That said, the rest of the big men had trouble with rebounding and put backs and Ibrahima Diallo fouled out. Lots more to develop down low.
Northwestern: Northwestern presents a different type of game on Thursday, but at home, it’s just as winnable. Rutgers can’t let this game hang over them going forward. There are still 14 games left, and there are opportunities for wins. Iowa comes to the RAC too. But if the crowd is rowdy for a 9 pm start on Thursday, the Scarlet Knights have a shot.
BONUS (because I’m annoyed): College basketball is the best sport, but it is really tough to be a rebuilding newbie to the conference on the road. The officials always favor the home team, but when you’re a rebuilding team that’s trying to win on the road, you have to blow a team out to win by 4 points. That’s how it goes, but it’s aggravating as all get out to attack the basket and get hacked play after play with no call. Guaranteed that at the RAC, very few opponents would leave the building only shooting 4 free throws.
For more on this heartbreaker, check out Aaron’s recap.