The Rutgers men’s basketball team opened up it’s trip to Spain with its first game on Wednesday night, defeating the Madrid All-Stars by the score of 96-78. The Scarlet Knights dominated most of the way, starting the game on a 10-0 run and holding a 17 point lead at the half. While the game was not live streamed, I found unofficial stats on the Euro site campeonatosfbm.es and based on that info, here some quick and admittedly, raw takeaways on the victory.
- West Virginia beat the Madrid All-Stars 97-69 on Tuesday, so Rutgers was able to produce a similar result, although they gave up 9 more points to the opponent. A solid victory nonetheless.
- Ron Harper Jr. started at the four and while I can’t confirm for sure, he likely played a good amount of the game at that position. With the loss of Omoruyi, Harper seems likely to play the four quite a bit next season. He scored 16 points on 7 of 11 shooting, including a perfect 7 of 7 from two-point range. Of course, that means he went 0 for 4 from behind the arc. He added 6 rebounds, but fouled out, limiting his night to just 17 minutes.
- Head coach Steve Pikiell has raved about Shaq Carter’s development this summer and it showed in this game, as he led Rutgers with 18 points. He was an efficient 6 of 7 from the floor. Also, it was no small feat that he made all three free throw attempts. Carter also added 6 rebounds and appears to be improving heading into his senior year. With Mamadou Doucoure missing the trip due to a visa issue, Carter will play a ton of minutes along with Myles Johnson on this trip.
- Rutgers shot 36 of 75 from the floor for 48%, 13 of 33 from three-point range for 39% and 11 of 19 from the free throw line for 58%. Solid shooting from the floor, as they shot 55% from two-point range and the fact that the shot 39% from the new Euro three-point line is encouraging. The FT% isn’t good but tired legs just two days out from a overseas flight was surely a factor. Let’s wait and see how they shoot from the charity stripe the rest of the trip before bemoaning the reoccurring struggles from this spot on the floor.
- Rutgers had way too many fouls with 32 as a team combined, including Geo Baker, Harper Jr., Myles Johnson and Peter Kiss with at least 4 each. Madrid only had 16 calls, so perhaps a home whistle we are all too familiar with in the Big Ten exists in Europe as well.
- A -7 turnover margin isn’t good and 20 turnovers overall isn’t either. However, as I told Dave White earlier in the day, I fully expected Rutgers to have a sloppy performance. It’s the first game this group has ever played and they landed in Madrid just about 48 hours before it was played. Turnovers, in addition to the fouls and missed foul shots were certainly affected by that fact.
- Rutgers dominated the boards, 50-25 and it was a team effort, with six players grabbing at least 5 rebounds apiece. That shows the team continues to buy into the all hands on deck approach to crashing the glass.
- Peter Kiss provided some hope he will be improved this season, as he started at the three spot and scored 16 points on 6 of 8 shooting, including 3 of 4 from three-point range. He did have 5 rebounds, but also committed 4 turnovers to just 2 assists.
- The newcomers to the lineup all had various degrees of success. Akwasi Yeboah had 14 points, 6 boards, and 3 steals on 4 of 8 shooting, including 2 of 6 from behind the arc. Jacob Young scored 11 points and was 3 of 5 from three, as well as added 3 assists and 3 rebounds. Paul Mulcahy played the second most minutes on the team (22), and while he didn’t score on just two shot attempts, he added 4 boards, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block and perhaps most importantly, zero turnovers. That means he didn’t make any mistakes with the rock in his hands, a good sign.
It was a victory with some encouraging developments, but it’s important to not exaggerate the positives and negatives from this game. Next up, Rutgers visits Valencia on Saturday, August 10th to take on the CC Basketball Academy At 1:30 pm ET.
Quotes From Steve Pikiell
“We put some points on the board and played exciting basketball against a veteran team,” said head coach Steve Pikiell. “We had a lot of turnovers and have a lot to clean up, but I like that we are a high-energy team with a lot of weapons. We just have to play better the next go-around.”
“Everyone gives us something…We have a lot of different pieces, which is exciting,” said Pikiell. “Ron got into foul trouble, but was dominant leading into that.”
“It was a good way to get started,” added Pikiell. “I think we’ll play better in the next game. Spain and its people have been great. We’re looking forward to what’s ahead of us.”
“I really appreciate Scarlet Nation following us on this tour,” said Pikiell. “They are the best. We’re getting better. This is an exciting team with a lot of answers…I really liked the tempo we played with tonight. Better days are ahead.”
(Note: Once Rutgers posts videos and anything else pertinent, I will update this post.)