Rutgers ran into a Seton Hall team that was determined to win and dropped the game 77-63.
Seton Hall is Good: No one wants to hear this, especially on this site, but the Pirates are trending toward being a good team. They hit some tough shots, they took advantage of some defensive breakdowns and they were the home team. After the game was tied early, they never allowed Rutgers to truly get in it. One of the most astute tweets I saw tonight was by Aaron, who pointed out that the Hall forced Rutgers to start their offense around around the half court line as opposed to the three point line and it disrupted the Scarlet Knight’s rhythm. They also took Ron Harper Jr. out of the game, so Rutgers needs to find another option to take over. A healthy Geo Baker probably helps that. So would making some baskets around the rim. But if this game is at home, it’s probably a different story.
Rebounding: This is a problem Rutgers has to figure out. Rebounding has always been a key under Steve Pikiell and right now it’s really bad. The Scarlet Knights are getting initial stops but they are not ending their defensive possessions. Too many basketballs are bouncing around and not being secured by the Scarlet Knights—not only tonight but even against Purdue and other teams. If Rutgers gets 90% of their rebounds this is a completely different game down the stretch.
Geo Baker: The fifth year senior is back. Baker was out for a long stretch, starting in the middle of the Lafayette game and his absence probably turned this team into a 5-5 team instead of a 5-2 team. Baker is the key to this program and he gets things going and usually makes good decisions, or even bails Rutgers out of bad ones. For instance, tonight he hit a fade away two point jumper in a possession where the offense broke down at the end of the shot clock. He is a key to what the Scarlet Knights are going to do this season.
The December 4 Game Gauntlet: Rutgers did what they were supposed to do. In fact, probably more so. They went 2-2 and beat the number 1 team in the country. I am sure there will be fans who are upset at Steve Pikiell for some reason, but there is still hope left for this team. The start was bad, but DePaul is starting to look like a very good team and the Lafayette loss was balanced by the Purdue win. The Scarlet Knights can’t afford any more non-conference slip-ups, clearly. They only have Rider, Central Connecticut State and Maine left. Any loss there would be a season killer, but Rutgers has steadied the course. Now the real season begins. 2-2 was the minimum and they did it in historic fashion. Now go on and find one more win that you aren’t expected to get. Three and a half months left. Let’s go.