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Enjoying the Build: 4 Thoughts on Hartford

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Really tough to enjoy this one as Rutgers loses 60-58

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Rutgers Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

If you want to know what happened and stats and stuff, read Aaron’s recap. If you want total emotional nonsense, read mine.

This Loss Is Unacceptable: Let’s get this out of the way: It doesn’t matter what I think, whether it’s unacceptable or not—there’s nothing to be done. It happened. You have to move on, but man, this loss was unacceptable. I can understand the Stony Brook loss, Rutgers had never experienced a win like they had over Seton Hall. But the Stony Brook loss should have been a wake-up call. This team should have come out with fire in their eyes. Instead, the sleepwalked through a boring half of terrible basketball and were unable to turn it completely on late. Awful.

Three of Rutgers Four Leaders Failed Them: Corey Sanders discipline action set this team back from the tip off. Deshawn Freeman couldn’t finish around the basket and had trouble deciding when to try and take over and when to give up the ball. And Steve Pikiell had to send a message to Sanders and the team that you don’t miss practices, but why start Souf Mensah? Souf has had trouble getting off the bench during important games. Why didn’t Mike Williams (who had a very good 2nd half) get the start? I haven’t seen any press conferences or quotes yet, but those 3 things cost Rutgers.

Hartford’s Zone Flummoxed the Knights: Hartford played a junk defense that looked like a 2-1-2 zone, but threw the guy in the middle at the ballhandler, so any time Corey or Geo had the ball, they were essentially triple teamed. Neither player could then make smooth passes or penetrate to get the play started. It led to a lot of lost opportunities. But, Pikiell had coached against Hartford before, he should have known what was coming.

Hartford’s Two New Jersey Players Came to Play: JR Lynch and Jason Dunne were nearly unstoppable. They were patient and played smart basketball. They knew when to pass, they knew when to cut to the hoop and they hit their threes. They made their free throws. They did everything Rutgers’ guards couldn’t.

Just an overall terrible day. Rutgers is now one game behind where we all expected them to be. Where we hoped they would be nullifying the Seton Hall win. Big Ten play starts next week as Rutgers travels to Purdue and hosts Wisconsin.

To read more postgame coverage from Brian Fonseca, click here.