Rutgers battled and made it a game but Seton Hall was too much, winning 72-66. Here are my four thoughts:
Steve Pikiell is a Really Good Coach: Rutgers is really, young and a couple of pieces away. When the Scarlet Knights went down 17 in the second half, they could have packed it up and said, “Oh well, better luck next year.” They didn’t, though. Instead, Rutgers bored down and went on a 10-0 run and cut the lead to 7. They were able to get as close as three points, but couldn’t get over the hump. Pikiell drew up a bunch of good plays out of timeouts and changed defense (was that a box and 1 on Powell at one point?) to get the Scarlet Knights back in it. Next year, with Jacob Young, Paul Mulcahy and whatever Rutgers does with one more scholarship, he’ll have the dudes. Plus these dudes will be one year older. I haven’t looked at message boards or Twitter since the game has ended, but I’m guessing someone might want to put a little heat on Pikiell. That is short sighted.
Early In Second Halves Are Officially a Problem: Rutgers worked really hard to stay in the game in the first half when the shots weren’t falling. They were able to stay within 9 and give themselves a chance, coming out at halftime. However, Rutgers slumped and left Myles Powell open way too often and the Pirates got that 17 point lead. Even if Rutgers traded baskets or were able to slow Seton Hall in that stretch, they probably would have won the game with that 10-0 run. That’s something Pikiell needs to figure out—but it could just be immaturity.
Myles Powell Was the Best Player on the Floor: Powell is so good that he was swishing defended threes that no one else would make. Seton Hall got him open a few times on some really nice back screens. Powell also has Issa Thiam’s number, and was able to score over him rather easily. But, Montez Mathis—who is developing fantastically—really frustrated Powell early on. When three point shooters get hot, however, they really get hot. Powell was unstoppable and his wide open 3 to push the lead back to 6 was the dagger.
Geo Baker Needs to Be Better: Geo is the best player on the team, but he has to start being smarter with the ball. There were a few possessions in the first half where he took unwise threes. He’s the point guard right now and has to do a better job of deciding when to score and when to pass. He’s a really good player, so it’ll come and when it does, he’s going to be unstoppable. Remember, he’s only a sophomore, but he’s still learning. It’s going to happen. The waiting is the hardest part.
BONUS BECAUSE IT IS SETON HALL—Peter Kiss and Ron Harper are X-Factors: Kiss has grit and he did something no one ever does in a Seton Hall game. As the Hall was dribbling out the clock, he stole the ball and dunked it. There’s a chip to his game, and he helped drag Rutgers back in the game. He responded well to coming off the bench. Also, look when Rutgers went on their runs—Ron Harper was in the game. His shot may not be falling, but he’s smart with the ball and makes good passes. Watch how these two develop.