The Rutgers men’s Basketball team improved to 3-0 on its Spain trip with its highest scoring performance so far, defeating the Mataro All-Stars 101-72 in Barcelona on Monday night. The frontcourt dominated near the rim, while the backcourt fell into some foul trouble. Without being able to watch the games, here are my takeaways based on the box score. For what it’s worth, I was told this be the toughest opponent on the trip.
- It’s hard to know exactly the level of competition the opponent provided, but it seems to fair to compare these teams to low major opponents at the college level, possibly this game being closer to a mid-major. That being said, any time your top four frontcourt players can combine to grab 45 rebounds, including 18 on the offensive end, it’s a strong effort from the big fellas. Overall, Myles Johnson had 14, Akwasi Yeboah had 11, Harper Jr. and Shaq Carter had 10 apiece. It helped create a 58-26 edge with points in the paint and 26-5 advantage in second chance points.
- 38 of the 101 points that Rutgers scored came on the fast break, which shows this team is transitioning its style in a positive way on this trip, pun intended.
- The backcourt didn’t have its best night. Peter Kiss, Geo Baker, Paul Mulcahy and Caleb McConnell all had at least 4 fouls. McConnell was the only one to have a good offensive game, scoring 12 points on 5 of 6 shooting, his best game of the trip.
- Ron Harper Jr. is showcasing his potential to be the top scorer next season. He has had a great offseason from a developmental standpoint and it’s showing up in a big way on this Spain trip. A team high through three games with 26 points on 10 of 16 shooting, including 3 of 8 from three-point range is a dominant performance offensively. Add in 10 boards, 2 steals and 2 assists with zero turnovers in 22 minutes and this is the best performance any Rutgers player has had so far this trip.
- Shooting was the worst it’s been through three games. 45.8% from the floor on 85 attempts, 25% from three-point range on 28 attempts. It was their third game in six days and it has been very hot in Spain, so perhaps they were a bit tired. Remember, they hadn’t played a game in about five months before this trip and that can be a factor. Hard to know how shot selection has been, but hopefully they can shoot a higher clip the last game of the trip.
- Forcing 18 turnovers through 16 steals is impressive, regardless of the competition. They also held a +10 points off of turnovers.
- They assisted on almost 50% of made baskets (19 of 39), which is still an improvement over most games last season. This team is sharing the basketball well and probably would have had a better ratio had more shots fallen.
- Jacob Young has an off shooting night (2 of 10, 0 of 4 from three), but it’s a good sign to see him contributing in multiple ways. He had a Swiss Army knife stat line of 6 points, 6 steals, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. If he can be a positive factor in other areas when he does struggle shooting wise, his growth as a player will be a big plus next season.
- Myles is playing like a monster, putting up a line of 10 points on 5 of 8 shooting, 14 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks. So excited to see him as a sophomore, as his ceiling continues to rise.
- Shaq Carter is seeing his stock climb more than any player this trip from a statistical point of view. 18 points on 8 of 13 shooting and 10 rebounds in 18 minutes of action is impressive. Granted, he isn’t facing the trees of the Big Ten, but his consistent production this trip has been an encouraging storyline.
- Rutgers held the Mataro All-Stars to 32.3% from the field on 65 attempts
Next up, Rutgers plays its last game of the Spain trip on Wednesday vs. El Maresme All-Stars at 2 pm ET in Barcelona.
Quotes From Steve Pikiell
“It was a different kind of game,” said head coach Steve Pikiell. “There were a lot of fouls called, which didn’t let us get into a flow. Once we settled down…we were pretty good. A lot of guys contributed. I love the double-doubles by our bigs and Ron was terrific. Everybody chipped in. When we make the extra passes and do the little things, we have a chance to be pretty good.”
“I like different challenges,” said Pikiell. “We have to be mentally and physically tough enough to get over them and continue to play. We did a good job. I love these obstacles. It was a different kind of day for us. We travelled four and a half hours on the bus, got to the hotel, had a quick meal and then went right to the gym. Our guys toughed through it.”
“We pulled away in the end in a tough and sweaty environment with the officials calling a lot of different fouls,” said Pikiell.