Rutgers rebounded nicely from an underwhelming game against Central Connecticut State to dominate Cleveland State 70-38. You can read more in Aaron’s recap. But I have thoughts as well. Four of them, to be exact.
Defense, Defense, Defense: Rutgers held Gary Waters old squad Cleveland State to less than a point per minute. That’s right, 38 points in forty minutes. At first, I thought it was Cleveland State playing poorly. They found a lot of open shots that they just missed early int he game. But soon, it became clear that wasn’t the case. Rutgers was focused and just locked down their opponent and never let them get on a run. If Rutgers plays defense this way all season, they will have a shot to win a lot of games this year. They’re 3-0 right now, and hopefully this is a sign they’re rounding into form defensively.
Issa Thiam is Developing: Not only did Thiam make four three pointers, but he also found his way into the lane for a jumper and pulled in 7 rebounds. His defense was also solid, using his length to disrupt the wings and guards of the opposition. This was probably Thiam’s best game as a Scarlet Knight, and there are signs he could be getting even better. When Steve Pikiell was hired, he talked about developing players. Thiam is starting to look like one of those players who’s buying in.
Geo Baker Broke Through: I talked about Baker’s bad luck after the CCS game, but this game showed what Geo can be. Baker made his first two threes of the season, one in the first half and one in the second, and you could see the relief on his face. But Geo didn’t turn the ball over and really dished the ball well. He hit Corey Sanders with a huge alley oop just before his hit his 2nd three and that really put the game away. Baker had 7 assists and no turnovers. Great game for Geo.
Corey Sanders: As Aaron pointed out, the game really turned when Sanders took over the distribution duties in the second half. Corey had one of the best games of his career, scoring 13 points, but also having ten rebounds. That’s a well-rounded Corey Sanders, and if he keeps growing that way, it’s going to help this team be extremely competitive this year.