The Rutgers men’s basketball team has a surprise awaiting them at practice Monday — and not the good kind.
Before the Scarlet Knights begin preparations for Tuesday’s Big Ten home opener against No. 3 Michigan State, they’ll sit down and watch a compilation of their worst turnovers from their 89-67 loss to No. 12 Minnesota on Sunday.
Rutgers turned the ball over 14 times against the Golden Gophers, tied for a season-high with the season-opener against DIII CCNY.
“We have a tape today we’re showing them about our turnovers that had nothing to do with Minnesota,” Pikiell said. “We’re going to show five or six turnovers that were Rutgers turnovers. We’ve got to limit those.”
While we don’t have access to the exact tape Pikiell and staff plans to show the team, we compiled a few clips of our own to demonstrate the head coach’s point.
It didn’t take long to find the first avoidable turnover the Scarlet Knights had in Minneapolis. On their very first offensive play, this happened:
Shortly after, point guard Corey Sanders got called for a walk — the first of four traveling violations committed by Rutgers on the night.
As for the rest of the turnovers, most were sloppy passes which led to easy transition buckets for Minnesota. One sequence in particular — which is featured midway through the video attached below — was a back-breaker.
Down six with 50 seconds to play in the first half, Eugene Omoruyi saw his alley-oop to Shaquille Doorson tipped. The Gophers broke away and Nate Mason got an easy slam. On the next time up the floor, Doorson was called for a moving screen. On the next play, Reggie Lynch got a dunk to give Minnesota a double-digit lead heading into halftime.
Rutgers did not come within six for the remainder of the contest.
The 14 turnover day comes directly after the Scarlet Knights turned it over 13 times in a loss to Florida State. Pikiell attributed some of the turnovers to the uptick in competition, but reiterated how crucial it is for Rutgers to limit those self-inflicted mistakes against quality opposition.
“Obviously, in these kind of games, high-level games, those turnovers are magnified,” Pikiell said. “We have to do a better job. A couple of offensive charges, couple leaving our feet and throwing passes. … We’ve got to eliminate those kind of turnovers. ... There are certain turnovers that are better than others. When we throw the ball to the other team and they lay it in, those are awful turnovers. We got to get the right kind of turnovers too, especially again when we’re playing teams where our margin for winning or losing is a lot smaller.”
After reviewing the tape, the Scarlet Knights shift focus to the Spartans, who provide likely the biggest test they’ll face all year. The fact it comes so soon after a tough test at what may be the second best team they’ll face all season makes it all the more difficult.
“The scheduling gods blessed us, I guess,” Pikiell said. “We got a great opportunity here … it’s a great opportunity to play the best team (in conference) at home, the best coach, so you just look at the schedule as it comes and play your best basketball. Those are things you can control.”