“Enjoy the journey,” Steve Pikiell is fond of saying.
“You want to get to the end of the book. I love the first few chapters,” he said after Bryant.
There will be no March Madness, no NCAA Tournament, and no Final Four in 2020. https://t.co/hzsLDCovM9— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) March 12, 2020
Well, we are at the end of the book and Steve Pikiell has never been more right. The ending of this book sucks. There’s no way around that. The Big Ten Tournament was canceled about fifteen minutes before the Rutgers Michigan game was about to tip. They pulled the players off the court and now the NCAA Tournament is canceled as well.
Twenty-nine years after Rutgers last made the Big Dance, it looked like Rutgers was about to crash the party again. Until it was all taken away.
So, what are we left with?
Exactly what Steve Pikiell said—exactly what he’s taught us—the fans. Look back at the journey and the absolutely remarkable fun we had this year.
That week in mid-December when Rutgers dominated both the future Big Ten number 1 seed Wisconsin and Seton Hall at home. The Seton Hall game was particularly amazing—winning by twenty points and being full of alley-oops and dunks. Tell me you don’t have that stashed away in your memory bank.
Ron Harper Jr scoring 22 and Caleb McConnell dropping in 20 when Geo Baker was out with a thumb injury—showing this team was more than just their junior leader. That was the week the RAC truly came alive again, when the Scarlet Knights shut down Penn State in the second half for their 2nd ranked victory of the season. Ron hitting all his free throws and people starting to use the word Tournament.
There were other memories too… moments you can’t forget. The Riot Squad chanting for Cliff Omoruyi as the team beat Indiana. The fans making MSG seem like the RAC – East during a special game at Michigan.
Jacob Young’s dipsy doos.
Paul Mulcahy’s passes.
Akwasi Yeboah’s old man game getting to the rim.
Myles Johnson’s defense and length as he pulled in rebound after rebound.
And then there’s Geo… Our Junior. The one who three times this season would not let us lose. The last second shot against Nebraska when he was just finding his way again. Twenty-five points to bring us back when we were down 18 to Northwestern. And the last image to me—when Rutgers needed it the most… the overtime shot to ice the game at Purdue.
This season meant so much—and it is going to end in horrible fashion. I wish it didn’t have to. I wanted nothing more than to hear Rutgers name on Sunday night. From a fan standpoint, it’s a tragedy. From a human standpoint, it’s understandable.
But look at it this way: basketball is back at the RAC. Basketball is here at Rutgers. It seems that it will be here for a long while.
Enjoy the journey, folks. Revel in the chapters you’ve already read. It was a hell of a lot of fun.