I really don’t have any clue how good or bad Rutgers basketball will be this season.
It is a very young team, with a combo guard playing the point guard spot for the first time. There are six new faces who haven’t see the court during a game for Rutgers. When that happens, you don’t know what you’re going to get.
The best comparison I can think of is Mike Rice’s second season where Myles Mack, Kadeem Jack, Eli Carter, Malick Kone, Jerome Seagears, Greg Lewis and Derrick Randall tried to figure it out. Rice threw them to the wolves and they only finished 8-5 in the Out of Conference portion of the season. That said, there was one thing that team did pretty well.
They could shoot the three pointer. Rutgers shot 34% from three overall, but the three main guards, Seagears, Mack and Carter shot well in bunches. And when they went down, that team was able to upset people. See my favorite game ever at the RAC, the shocking Double Overtime win against Florida.
The next season, Rutgers three point shooting was even better, at nearly 36%. Because of that, the team was able to beat a ranked Pittsburgh team and sweep Seton Hall, despite a devastating injury to Carter.
Since then, Rutgers really hasn’t shot the three well. And the last two years, it’s been really bad—last year they only shot 28% as a team from beyond the arc. The top 50 three point shooting teams in the nation shot between 38-43% as a team.
But now, the new guys seem to know how to knock the shot down. At least that’s the word on the street (or in Aaron’s post).
If that is true—and we won’t know until the lights come on—this team can make up for some other deficits as they grow together. Missed a defensive assignment for an easy lay-up? You still outscored him if you hit a three.
A hot night from beyond the arc and a team can beat almost anyone in the country. A hot night from beyond the arc and a great defensive effort? You can beat anyone.
We’ve seen nights where Geo Baker can go off. And now Eugene Omoruyi is talking about how much he worked on his perimeter shot. There are videos of Peter Kiss making threes against Seton Hall and Gonzaga. Montez Mathis’ shot looked great in practice, apparently. Caleb McConnell and Ron Harper, Jr. could shoot it in high school. So many new faces. So much potential. There are nights when those threes are going to go in.
But, of course, its basketball and not every shot is going to go in on every night. But the three point shot is the great equalizer. We see it every year during the Tournament.
Steve Pikiell is building something here, and I don’t know if it will come together perfectly this season. We are probably a year or two off from true glory. There are going to be some slip ups. There are going to be losses that are frustrating.
But when the RAC is rocking (and darn right it’s going to rock this year) and the shots from far are going down? We fans are going to get a taste of that glory.
You can live with the slip ups, when you can see the climb happening. We have to watch the development of this team as time goes on. They will be better in February than in November.
And making threes are a big part of that.