Fairleigh Dickinson (0-0) At Rutgers (0-0)
How To Watch, Listen, News & Notes
Where: The RAC in Piscataway, New Jersey
Tip-off: Friday, November 9th at 7:00 p.m. ET
Stream: BTN2GO - Lou Brogno, play-by-play; Ralph Bednarczyk, analyst
Radio: WCTC 1450 AM, WOR 710 AM, XM 386 - Jerry Recco & Joe Boylan; WRSU 88.7 FM - Matt Howe & Sam Marsdale
KenPom Rankings: Rutgers #149; FDU #258
KenPom Prediction: Rutgers 77 FDU 67; Rutgers has an 82% chance to win.
Series History: Rutgers leads 13-2, including a 92-54 victory last season.
Program Connections: Rutgers Director of Player Development Greg “Shoes” Vetrone was the head coach at FDU between 2009-2013. Also, FDU freshman forward Marc Dadika is first cousin’s with former Rutgers player and current graduate assistant Jake Dadika.
The Knights were tabbed in the preseason coaches’ poll to finish in second place of the Northeast Conference this season. Greg Herenda enters his sixth year as head coach. FDU is led by a pair of senior captains, guard Darnell Edge and forward Mike Holloway Jr. Last season, Edge led the team in scoring with 14.5 points per game and is a good shooter, having averaged 44.9% from the field, 36.1% from three and an incredible 94.4% from the free throw line on 89 attempts. Holloway Jr. averaged 13.4 points and 7.0 rebounds per contest last season. Another key player is sophomore guard Jahlil Jenkins, who averaged 12.0 points, 4.4 assists, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.2 steals.
What To Watch For
Geo Baker At The Point
The sophomore guard officially takes the reigns as the floor leader in tonight’s game. While he ran the offense at times last season, it’s his team now and it will be interesting to see how he balances his responsibilities. Rutgers needs to share the basketball more so in the halfcourt than in the past. Geo seems focused on getting his teammates involved, but will need to pick his spots to assert himself offensively as well.
I expect a starting lineup of Shaq Doorson, Eugene Omoruyi, Issa Thiam, Geo Baker, and Montez Mathis. It’s possible Peter Kiss and Mamadou Doucoure could as well. Regardless, Pikiell will likely use all eleven scholarship players that are active and how he rotates them will be something to pay attention to. Pikiell has more versatility in setting lineups than ever before in his time at Rutgers and he’ll likely experiment with some different combinations.
In the two practices I saw this preseason, Rutgers looked like a better shooting team than in recent years past and tonight is the first chance to prove it. The Scarlet Knights will have a significant size advantage, so I expect attacking the rim will be a focus. That should lead to a good amount of free throw attempts. If they can shoot 70% or better from the line as a team, it would be an encouraging sign. How often they shoot from behind the arc will be something to watch for as well. Are they forcing three’s or are they coming naturally through the flow of the offense? Also, how much Rutgers runs in transition is something else to keep an eye on. There should be legitimate hope the offense will be improved this season and it should have a very different flow with the new personnel.
Six players make their Rutgers debut in this game and they include JUCO transfer Shaq Carter, Quinnipiac transfer Peter Kiss, redshirt Freshman Myles Johnson, and a trio of true freshmen in Montez Mathis, Ron Harper Jr. and Caleb McConnell. This team is somewhat unpredictable this season based on not knowing how these new players will perform at this level, with only Peter Kiss having Division I game experience. However, it should be exciting to see so many new players, as well as the fact that they are all players brought to the program by Pikiell.
While I expect Rutgers to be better offensively this season, they’ll need time to figure things out on the defensive end. Making progress each game early on in the season is so important. Pikiell spoke in the preseason that the defense isn’t where he wants it to be. Tonight is a good opportunity for this new team to gain valuable experience against a solid low major program. The intensity of a game can not be replicated in practice, so watching how they adjust defensively is something I’ll be watching for.
In The Bonus
If you have the opportunity to attend tonight’s game, take advantage and go. It’s an exciting night to see this team make its first impression with a roster that for the first time is Pikiell’s creation. This is a solid test for a season opening game, especially with so many new faces. Don’t expect a score anything like last year’s meeting, but the quicker Rutgers can jump out to the lead, the more it will help the new guys and team overall settle in. I expect this game will be a little sloppy, but Rutgers should bring a lot of energy and effort on the court tonight. The RAC faithful should have plenty to cheer about.
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