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Best Quotes From Rutgers Men’s Basketball 2018 Media Day

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We spoke with every scholarship player and here are some of the most interesting things they had to say

Aaron Breitman

The Rutgers men’s basketball season tips off Friday, November 9th and this past week the program held it’s annual media day. You can read my impressions and takeaways from practice and head coach Steve Pikiell’s full press conference here.

I was able to speak with every scholarship player on the team and I thought it would be fun to put together a best of list of quotes from them. I paired them down to thirty of what I thought were the most interesting and informative sound bites from this preseason.

Pikiell on things to look for that mark progress aside from wins and losses:

“I hope you see a lot of different things that are up. I think our passing is 1000% better than it was in year 1 and year 2. I hope you’ll see us play with the same passion that we’ve shown the last two years but on a more consistent basis. I hope you see that our talent has improved. I know where they have us picked and all that stuff, but our talent is better.”

Montez Mathis on why he chose Rutgers:

“I felt the most comfortable with coach Pikiell and the coaching staff. My family felt the most comfortable with him. Just looking for a change at Rutgers, I see a future here.”

Mathis on his individual and team goals for this season:

“As a player I just want to help the team win and win games. I don’t have any personal goals, I just want to win and get better every day.”

Issa Thiam on his defensive philosophy (disclaimer: some of this is from last year’s media day but I never used it and asked Issa about it again this year):

“When I was a kid, I wanted to play defense. My father told me, the basket is like your family. Think about your family. If someone comes and tries to harm your family, you aren’t going to let them in. Same with the basketball. Don’t let the player with the ball get to the rim and harm your family (teammates). Focus on defending your man and don’t let him get to the basket. When I’m guarding someone, I’m thinking I’m not letting you kill my family. Same for my teammates, you aren’t harming them by me letting you score. That’s why I work so hard on my defense.”

Ron Harper Jr. on his transition to the next level:

“From high school to college has been a big transition, especially because of the pace. I go against one of the hardest working guys on the team every day in Issa, so he really been teaching me the pace. I try to keep up with him. If you can keep up with him, you can keep up with anybody in the Big Ten.”

Harper Jr. on why he chose Rutgers:

“I felt like doing something here at Rutgers is a lot bigger for me than doing something big at another university. This is home to me, it will always be home to me. If I can do something here, it will create lifelong memories for me. That was a big part of it. My father was a hometown guy also, he stayed at home at Miami of Ohio. He did big things there.”

Shaq Doorson on the end of last season:

“Madison Square Garden was a great experience and we went out on a high note as a team. We are just trying to keep that same energy going this year.”

Doorson on the freshman class:

“All of them come with different skill sets. They are all working hard, in the gym, listening and energetic.”

Doorson on the difference with the team this season:

“It’s the most team first team we’ve had since I’ve been here. We pass the ball, share the game. The only thing we care about is winning. We don’t care about who is going to score. We want to share the ball and try to make the right play.”

Doorson on whether there is a chip on the team’s shoulder with being picked last again:

“It’s more motivation for our team to work harder. We look at the banners (every Big Ten team has one hanging from the rafters) at practice and try to make sure we worked harder than those teams every day.”

Myles Johnson on his development after redshirting last season:

“I have definitely improved a lot. I’ve utilized what I’ve improved on in the two scrimmages for sure. I can see so much improvement. Recently I was looking back on my high school years and like ‘wow, look at all of the steps I’ve made.’ It feels great.”

Mamadou Doucoure on what he has learned since last season:

“From my freshman season, I think I’ve learned a lot from it. Last year, I had some rough times. Hopefully I’ve learned from that and won’t make the same mistakes. I think I’ve improved my jump shot and post up game the most. “

Doucoure on his individual goals and for the team:

“I don’t have any goals for myself other than to play hard. When you play hard, things are going to come your way. If we can play hard as a team, anything can happen on any given night.”

Peter Kiss on why he chose to transfer to Rutgers:

“The staff. I really felt connected and that they were a family. The whole program felt like a family. That’s what I was really looking for.”

Kiss on the team first attitude among the players:

“The more people that are together, the stronger that you are. One person can’t beat an army of people. I feel like we are the army and on any given night, that one person can be beat.”

Kiss on his goals for the season:

“To win a lot.”

Shaq Carter on the transition from JUCO ball:

“The experience has been really good. The transition I feel has been a big difference because of the competition. I feel like I’ve adapted well. I’ve improved on being more athletic in the weight room, getting stronger, being able to matchup against bigger guys.”

Carter on how assistant coach Jay Young has helped him develop in the preseason:

“He has helped me in many different ways, but one thing has been attention to detail. Everything matters on the defensive end. You have to be on your eye, on your line, you have to talk. That’s just one of the things I feel like he has really helped me with.”

Carter on his goals this season:

“I don’t have any specific goals for myself. Whatever coach Pikiell wants and whatever the team needs at the time, I’m looking forward to doing that.”

Eugene Omoruyi on his thoughts on this year’s team:

“I feel like at first we just had a lot of talent, but now that talent has really come together in the preseason. I feel like it’s going to be a great year for us.”

Omoruyi on the newcomers transitioning onto the team:

“It has been really easy. They all have great personalities It all came together and clicked, which trickled onto the court. I feel like just knowing that we have that bond, it’s going to help us out a lot.”

Geo Baker on the difference this season:

“The vibe is definitely a lot different than last year. We are more focused this year and more intense in practice. Practices have been longer and harder.

Baker on what he has worked on the most this offseason:

“Everything. I’d say the biggest thing is finishing around the basket, I think that is definitely something I could have done better last year.”

Caleb McConnell on his feelings heading into his freshman season:

“Feeling great. I’m excited and ready to play. Right now I’m just embracing my role as the backup point guard behind Geo and giving this team sufficient minutes by playing my game. All my teammates have been great.”

McConnell on if having a defined role helps his transition and who has helped him:

“It really does help having a defined role. I don’t have to overthink things. It helps out a whole lot to just stick to my role. Geo Baker and Jacob Young have already experienced the college game. They are always helping me and tell me the right things to do. As far as coaches, coach Pikiell is great. He always picks me up whenever I’m down and always teaching me.”

McConnell on why he believes in coach Pikiell:

“Pikiell is a great dude. He is genuine and so ready to win. One thing he always told me I’ll never forget, ‘if Rutgers basketball was a stock, invest in it now. Because eventually it’s going to blow up.’ I agree with him because I’m here.”

McConnell on his relationship with assistant coach Brandin Knight:

“Coach Knight has been great. He is someone I can always just call up and talk to him about anything. He always told me that. If I’m ever concerned about anything, I can just call coach Knight and he’ll answer. He’s also helped because of his experience playing the point guard position he is always helping out.”

Jacob Young on why he transferred to Rutgers from Texas:

“I chose Rutgers because of the coaching staff and the RU community. From the first day I got here, there is a different vibe on campus and I’ve had a smile on my face. The people within the program, they encourage me every day to keep me going and keep me up.”

Young on his goal for this season while he has to sit out of games:

“Help my teammates get better. Get to know Pikiell’s system so I can just know it and just get better. As a player, as a person, as a teammate. There is a bunch of stuff I can improve on.”

Young on this year’s team:

“We have a lot of potential. We have a lot of talent, but we have a lot of young guys too. I know what it takes to get there (NCAA Tournament) so I want to push these guys to make sure they are giving great effort to get there.”