Friday marked the official start to the 2017-2018 season for the Rutgers men’s basketball team, as practice begun. With several new, talented players on the roster and the returning ones having a second offseason to prepare under head coach Steve Pikiell, there is legitimate excitement for this team. Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press was at the first practice and wrote a detailed review of what he witnessed here.
As expected, the additions of Geo Baker and Souf Mensah make the backcourt more diverse and deeper. Adding those two newcomers with returning starters Corey Sanders and Mike Williams gives Pikiell more options to work with this season. Earlier this week, I covered three areas this team will be improved in this year and depth and lineup versatility was one of them. We’ll have plenty more to discuss as our season preview continues throughout the next six weeks before the season opener against CCNY on November 10th.
Friday was also about celebrating the start of the season with the fans with the 2nd annual MidKnight Madness event that both the men’s and women’s teams held at the RAC. Here is a great picture of coach Pikiell with a familiar face around campus.
All of the players were introduced to the crowd and here is freshman Geo Baker flashing a big smile as his name is announced at the RAC for the first time in his Rutgers career!
There was a three-point contest held and senior walk-on guard, Jake Dadika, who had several key moments for this team last season, took home the title!
As for the dunk contest, Quinnipiac transfer Peter Kiss, who will sit out this season due to transfer rules, pulled the upset and is the new champion.
Known for his shooting ability, Kiss is also very athletic and showed it last night. You can watch all of the dunks from the contest in this video.
All in all, it was a great event and even Greg “Shoes” Vetrone was in a dancing mood near midcourt. Sadly, there was no video of him in action.
For photos of all of the activities at MidKnight Madness, click on the link in this tweet.
And although last night was about tipping off this season, it’s never too early to think about the future. Here is a great picture from Scout’s Sam Hellman of the 2018 recruiting class, who are all visiting this weekend. Starting on the left with the second person in, there is 4-star guard Montez Mathis, 3-star guard Ron Harper Jr., and 3-star point guard Mac McClung.
The Rutgers men’s basketball team has six weeks to prepare now until the 2017-2018 season opener arrives. The current state of the program, as head coach Steve Pikiell enters his second season, is in a far better place than it was when he took over some 18 months ago. This season is about making more progress on the court and continuing to move this program forward. As evidenced last night, there are plenty of reasons to be excited about this team. The start of this season can’t come soon enough!