Man, this team is fun. They came out and battled hard with the number 3 team in the country and fell 62-52. Four Thoughts:
Defense, defense, defense: Rutgers made the Spartans work on every possession. Little Mike Williams made Miles Bridges work hard in for most of the game after he started 5-6 for 13 points. Bridges finished with 21. Rutgers worked to stop the fast break and matched Michigan State on the boards 45 to 45. If they bring this kind of effort to every Big Ten game, hell every game from here on out, Rutgers is going to win their share.
The RAC is becoming the RAC again, finally: It happened. It hasn’t happened in a few years, but tonight it happened. Rutgers forced Michigan State to take a timeout after a Geo Baker step back basket. The crowd went nuts. And the band started to play “The Bell Must Ring.” At least, I think they did, because fo a short period, I couldn’t hear it. The students have started to come out to see this team and the team is responding. The Riot Squad is here to stay, the building is loud and Rutgers is feeding off them. Hopefully, it will stay this way for the rest of the year... from Seton Hall to the rest of the Big Ten squad, because I promise, if Rutgers keeps playing this way? They are going to reward the fans big time.
The Players Wore Down Again: Rutgers came out hot, going 2-3 from three point land. Geo Baker’s jumper was falling. Rutgers opened up 10-2 lead early. They were crashing the boards. The game was tied at the half. But Tom Izzo isn’t a hall of fame coach for nothing. He made an important defensive switch in the second half, putting the bigger Bridges on Geo. Geo spent the rest of the night running around and fighting through screens on defense and trying to get open on offense. His legs were gone. As were the rest of the team. It will be interesting to see what happens on Thursday and how worn down they are.
The Offense Strategy Didn’t Work: For Rutgers to be good, Corey Sanders and Deshawn Freeman have to attack the basket. They have to make lay-ups or at least get close enough for other players to get offensive rebounds. However, this was a bad match-up for the Scarlet Knights on that end. MSU’s big men were blocking shots all over the place and Rutgers never could get to the hoop. It clearly got in the Scarlet Knights head too because they missed at least 10 easy baskets. The team needs to learn to dunk the ball. The Spartans apparently had all ball all night as well, because they weren’t getting called for fouls close to the hoop either. This won’t be the case for a lot of the other Big Ten, but for Rutgers to play this well against such a bad match up is a wonderful sign going forward.
To read Aaron Breitman’s analysis on the recent three game stretch, click here.