And so the basketball offseason is upon us. The wonderful cold weather is quickly seeping away leading into too much humidity. People are starting to think about bats and balls, but not hoops and courts.
But Rutgers basketball will never be too far from our minds.
I have four thoughts on the offseason. Wanna hear ‘em?
Make It Smooth: Too often Rutgers fans get blindsided. Something goes wrong. Things shock us whether from OPRA reports or controversy or even scandal. Even though the there was some controversy at the end of the season, Rutgers appeared to handle things correctly. Now’s the time for a little peace and quiet. While some roster turnover is usually inevitable, Rutgers can’t lose any of its core members. Hopefully there aren’t any injuries out of no where. Just keep everything even keel and keep the optimism going. Integrate the new guys and give us some of those cool offseason workout videos on Twitter.
Recruiting: Steve Pikiell has two open scholarships to play with, and there are some holes to replace. He needs to replace the defense and rebounding of Shaquille Doorson and he needs to find more three point shooting. While the addition of Paul Mulcahy and Jacob Young, ball movement should be even better, which—theoretically—should help good three point shooters like Geo Baker and Ron Harper, Jr. get even better looks. Shooting could improve that way. However, you never turn down a shooter and if Rutgers can find a wing or power forward who can fill it up from deep, you have to take him. It will be fascinating to watch who and what Pikiell targets. Does he find four year players he can develop? Or does he see what a key season this is and tries the grad transfer market? JUCO? Unless another scholarship opens up, I wouldn’t expect them to target a sit out transfer, but I have no inside info and am just speculating.
Player Development Is Key: This is where Pikiell and company excel. In over 20 years of watching Rutgers basketball (yes, I know there are a lot of people who have watched longer, let’s all rate our fandom yadda yadda), I have never seen a team improve during the season the way this one has. Yes, they ran out of gas, but Montez Mathis, Caleb McConnell, Harper, and Myles Johnson all took huge steps from November to March. Now, Rutgers has plenty of time to focus on skills. I never know the exact rules for how much time Rutgers coaches are allowed to spend with the players per week, but they are allowed to do so. Remember how much Eugene Omoruyi improved from freshmen to sophomore to junior season? Let’s see that from all the players. Wishful thinking? Maybe, but I hope not.
Stay in the Public Eye: So, I don’t know if you know this, but there are a ton of Rutgers podcasts (two of the best are linked here) out there. And they are great. There’s even one where PBP guy Jerry Recco has some long form conversations with Steve Pikiell. Right now, Rutgers basketball has the fans eyes and heart. Don’t let that go away. Be out there, not only on social media, but for podcasts and TV interviews and in the paper. You don’t have to do it every day or even every week, but something once a month would be great. It’s a long 8 months until the next game, and we don’t want this team to just disappear. I think a lot goes on during the offseason that fans don’t know about. There are constantly football articles out there, and thus far basketball has been more successful. Personally, I’d like to keep hearing from Pikiell and company. And of course, the fine folks here at On the Banks will have you covered with any breaking news, thoughtful columns and stunning hot takes all summer. What about you?
I’d love to hear what you think should happen this offseason.