The Scarlet Knights took care of business last night. Thoughts:
The Freshmen are Going to be Great: Both Gavin Griffiths and Jamichael Davis played very well as top options off the bench against the Hoyas. Everyone knew Griffiths was going to be good, and while his defense needs to adjust to the college level, his offensive game is already there. He had 12 points on 5/9 shooting and 2/6 from deep and plays with a fluidity that has been seen little before by Rutgers faithful. Davis had 9 points on 4/7 shooting and also showed his defensive prowess with 2 rebounds and a pair of steals. He already looks like the most explosive guard Pikiell has had since Jacob Young or maybe even Corey Sanders. He also impressed with a veteran, Geo Baker-esque moment, pulling Cliff away when he almost got into it with a Georgetown forward.
Keep Your Foot on the Gas: This has long been a problem for Rutgers, and despite winning by almost a dozen last night, they allowed Georgetown to keep it way closer than they should’ve. This team hasn’t developed that killer instinct yet, as this game is one they should’ve won by 30, not 11. The Scarlet Knights were up 18 at the under 16 timeout of the second half, but could never extend that lead and put a dagger into the Hoyas. The game was never really in doubt, but eventually, Rutgers is going to need to deliver a deafening second-half blow to a good team.
Good Shooting: Despite starting 0/5 from three, Rutgers finished 9-24 from deep, confirming what many thought about this team’s potential beyond the arc. A big part of that is Griffiths, who has the smoothest stroke of any Scarlet Knight I can remember, but Rutgers has several guys who can knock down 3s. Aundre Hyatt, Noah Fernandes, Derek Simpson, and Davis are all guys who will make shots this season, and all of them are going to be huge parts of the Scarlet Knights’ offense.
Struggles Inside: For years under Pikiell, the Scarlet Knights have been known for their dominance in the paint both offensively and defensively. Last night though, Rutgers was -11 on the boards and shot 5/12 on layups. The Hoyas are a bad team, and this is a concerning trend for the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers is going to lose a lot of Big Ten games if they aren’t good inside, and it’s something that needs to be shored up in the next few weeks.
Player Development: Steve Pikiell and his staff’s player development has been on full display so far this season, and credit needs to be given for the job they’ve done. Oskar Palmquist looks much improved, as do Antwone Woolfolk, and Aundre Hyatt. All three players have become so much better under Pikiell and are going to be big parts of the rotation because of how they’ve been developed. Neither of the latter two were very high recruits, yet both are shaping up to be top players on a Big Ten team a few years later.
Cliff Needs to be a Bigger Factor: Whether you blame it on the forward himself or the rest of the team not getting him the ball in position to succeed, Cliff needs to be a bigger factor going forward. He’s the Scarlet Knight’s best player, and he needs more touches, more baskets, and to be stronger on the boards. Omoruyi had 8 points and 6 rebounds last night, but Rutgers is going to need him to prove why he’s their best player come conference play.