Rutgers won 71-64 (okay 71-67 because that guy hit a three at the buzzer, whatever.) Here are some thoughts:
Rutgers Defense was Uncharacteristically Sloppy: It’s almost as if the CCNY game was so easy that Rutgers expected to see the same this afternoon. Early in the game CCS made sharp cuts and the guard Cole was able to get to the basket with ease. Rutgers, too often, double teamed only to leave a cutter open for an easy lay-up. Play defense like this against the Big Ten, and Rutgers will spend a lot of time playing from behind. This did not look like a Steve Pikiell team early on. They were snoozing with the mid-afternoon start time. It’s not a trend yet, but it’s something to keep an eye on during the OOC. Last year the team very rarely came out flat—but it did happen. That said, smaller teams are going to give Rutgers’ traditional roster problems because the big men have a real hard time chasing smaller centers around.
Mike Williams was the spark: Proving his value, Williams did it all. With Rutgers down 12-2, Pikiell inserted the senior guard and he promptly made two threes to pull Rutgers to within 12-8. He scored 23 total points and was every bit the senior leader you’d hoped to see. If Williams had sat out this game because of his knee injury, it’s very likely that Rutgers would have lost. If Williams can shoot like he did today this whole year, he’s going to have a very special season.
If Geo Baker didn’t have bad luck, he’d have no luck at all: Baker started his third consecutive game and showed flashes of the vision and length Pikiell must be drooling over. But the shooting we expected to see hasn’t happened yet, but it’s not for a lack of trying. He had several open looks where the ball went halfway down before bouncing out of the rim. You want him to knock one down soon, because I have the feeling that once he does the threes may start raining in the RAC. At the same time, while one can tell Baker was getting frustrated, he calmly knocked down the last 4 free throws to seal the win.
Rutgers Shot Free Throws Well: This is a stat to watch. As Aaron pointed out several times, while the Scarlet Knights didn’t shoot well from the line Friday night, the starters went 10-10. Today, the team went 21-27 overall. That’s a very good percentage for a team that is not known to shoot them well. If that’s what Rutgers can do all season, they are going to win their share of close games.