September 1st, 2006
Basketball Preview: Rutgers
Obviously, new head coach Fred Hill and all Rutgers fans wish Quincy Douby
had returned to the Knights. It's hard to lose a first-round draft pick,
especially an underclassman. Douby was the only Knight to average in double
figures last year. It's not going to be easy to replace his 25-plus ppg.
However, there's still quite a bit of talent for Hill to work with.
Marquis Webb is a senior who does a bit of everything. He averaged 9.5 ppg,
3.2 rpg, and 2.7 apg last season. He shot 40% from the field and 36% from
behind the arc. Webb, who is 6'5", has gained a well-deserved reputation as
an outstanding defender. While he played the 3 last season, with Douby gone
and no obvious replacement, there's a good chance he'll get at least as many
minutes at the 2 this year as he will at the 3, maybe even more.
Two of last year's freshmen - J. R. Inman and Anthony Farmer - will
definitely start. Inman's injury kept him out of some conference games,
which hurt the Knights' record. He played the 4 and averaged 8.7 ppg, 5.3
rpg, and 1.75 blocks per game in 25.7 mpg. He's a good long-range shooter
as he hit 39% of his trey attempts for the season. He's more of a natural 3
than a 4 despite being 6'9" and 220 pounds, so, when Webb plays the 2, Inman
will likely see some time at the 3. He is one of the more talented players
in the league in the sophomore class. Despite his relative youth, he should
be the Knights’ #1 option on offense, a development that will allow him to
average 12-15 ppg.
Farmer was handed the starting point guard position and did a
commendable job. He averaged 8.3 ppg and 3.9 apg. His assist-to-turnover
ratio (1.8/1.0) was impressive, especially for a freshman. He's not a bad
shooter - 38% on treys - but he's going to have pick up his scoring with
Douby gone. Farmer is also a respectable defender, though not in the same
category as Webb.
Webb moves to the 2, and Inman plays considerable minutes at the 3, Ollie
Bailey could regain his starting position at the 4 next year. After being a
starter most of his freshman year, he averaged only 16.4 mpg last season,
contributing 4.4 ppg and 3.3 rpg. He'll never be a consistent double-digit
scorer, but he can be a blue-collar player who can grab five or six rebounds
a game and play solid defense.
Byron Joynes started at center the past two years. He’s not a great scorer
(3.1 ppg in 19.8 mpg), but he’s proven to be a decent rebounder (5.5 rpg).
Extrapolated to 25 mpg, he’d average just a shade under seven rebounds per
game. Joynes played with a dislocated shoulder most of last season. If
it’s completely healed, both his scoring and his rebounding stats should
Adrian Hill has had injury problems the past two years, so it's hard to
gauge how much he might contribute. He can add depth at both the 4 and the
5, but given his medical history, it’s hard to count on that happening.
Anything he provides will be a bonus.
The final returnee is Jaron Griffin - a 6'7" swing man. He's pretty
athletic, and he gives the Knights some size at the 2 or 3, but his shooting
stats - 32% overall and 22% on treys - indicate shooting is not his
strength. Still, he did get 13.3 mpg last year, and with Douby gone, there
are some additional minutes available.
There's only one freshman on the roster - 6'11" center Hamady N'Diaye,
who is ranked #97 on RSCI. He's raw offensively, but he's athletic and could
help on the defensive end. If he can board and stay out of foul trouble, he
should see 15-20 minutes backing up at the 5.
The other significant newcomer is Richmond transfer Courtney Nelson. He
will back up Farmer at point guard and may also allow Farmer to move to the
2 guard on occasion where he can concentrate more on scoring than on running
the offense. At the very least Nelson gives Hill a reliable back-up and
some flexibility in the backcourt.
Rutgers may have problems scoring. Neither Joynes nor Bailey is much
of a threat, and N'Diaye probably won't be either. Webb will have to become
more offensive-minded, as will Farmer, and Inman will have to become a go-to
guy. Besides a lack of low-post scoring, the Knights are suspect from
behind the arc, despite some decent individual stats. Last year defenses
concentrated so intently on containing Douby that other players often got
open looks. Without Douby on the court to draw the defense’s focus, the
question will be whether Farmer, Webb, and Inman can get their own shots
from behind the arc and knock them down.
Hill may well resurrect the Knights, but it’s unlikely Rutgers will end
up in the upper half of the league. The Knights will have to battle just to
make the BE Tourney, but they have a good chance of reaching that goal.
They could climb as high as 10th or drop as low as 12th.
An 11th place finish seems just about right.
Predicted Finish: 11 of 16