Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Overall Rank: #132
Conference Rank: #13 Big East
2007-08: 11-20, 3-15, 15th
2007-08 postseason: none
Rutgers is slowly improving under Coach Fred Hill, but it is a long way from a 20 loss season to a 20 win season. The recruiting is looking great, but it will take some time for that to turn into wins. The Scarlet Knights have the talent to cause some trouble to the perennial powers in the Big East right now, but if things continue as they have been on the recruiting front, Rutgers could become one of those perennial powers in the not-so-distant future.
Byron Joynes played an important role off the bench during his senior campaign. The 6-9 center was never much of a scorer, but he was a solid rebounder and could block a shot or two. Justin Sofman will not suit up for the Scarlet Knights this year after seeing limited action as a freshman.
With seven players returning who started nearly every game, Rutgers does not need a lot of help from the newcomers. But they could use an influx of talent; and they got it. Shooting guard Mike Rosario, a McDonald’s All-American, could step into the starting lineup right away. Rosario is a superb shooter from long range and that is good news for a team that has some decent outside shooters, but nobody who will consistently knock down shots from beyond the arc. Patrick Jackson might not be ready to make as big of an impact as Rosario, but the 6-6 wing has good size and plenty of potential. Gregory Echenique will do to the frontcourt what Rosario will to the backcourt. The 6-9, 260 pound Echenique was ranked as one of the top center prospects in the class of 2009, but was able to join this year’s class after finding some transferable credits. The Venezuelan is a smart and poised player well beyond his years and that will be enough to earn some quality minutes as a freshman. Power forward Christian Morris is full of potential and Mike Kuhn and Tomasz Kokosinski will add some emergency depth to the roster.
Who to Watch:
The backcourt was young and relatively inexperienced last year. Many underclassmen will be major contributors, but the lack of experience is not an issue anymore. Corey Chandler, Mike Coburn and Earl Pettis all saw significant playing time last season. Chandler led the way with 11.5 points per game and was the team’s most prolific three-point shooter. Coburn garnered 20 starts, but could very well be relegated to the bench this year. That says something about the new found depth Coach Hill has to work with. At 6-5, Pettis has the potential to develop into a solid wing who can help out the team on the glass. He only averaged 13.2 minutes per game last year, so he never really got the chance to show his stuff. However, if he can continue to develop his game, Pettis could play a bigger role this year. Luckily, there is a senior to lead the group on the perimeter. Point guard Anthony Farmer saw his assist numbers decrease last season, but he is a solid ballhandler who is also the most consistent shooter on the team. Jaron Griffin, another senior, started all 31 games on the wing last year, but could lose his starting job to some of the youngsters. Whether he starts or not, Griffin is a decent slasher who can score and help on the glass.
The other upperclassmen that will make an impact on this team are in the frontcourt. J.R. Inman led the squad with 12.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game and Hamady N’Diaye is one of the best shot blockers in the nation. Chemistry may be the only thing keeping this team from the 2009 postseason. The seniors have talent, but they also get most of the blame for the past failures of the program. If things start going bad, the fans and the coaches might just give up on their seniors and look towards the future instead. That might be good for next season, but it will be very bad for this year’s record.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Anthony Farmer, Senior, Guard, 10.2 points per game
Corey Chandler, Sophomore, Guard, 11.5 points per game
Mike Rosario, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
J.R. Inman, Senior, Forward, 12.2 points per game
Hamady N’Diaye, Junior, Center, 5.2 points per game