Rutgers Basketball Preview: #114
Overall Rank: #114
Conference Rank: #14 Big East
2008-09: 11-21, 2-16
2008-09 postseason: none
Coach: Fred Hill (32-60 at Rutgers, 32-60 overall)
Rutgers fans are getting impatient with Coach Fred Hill. After three years he has won just 32 games, while losing 60. His team won a mere two conference games last year and beating DePaul and South Florida at home does not sound very impressive. This is not a group that is going to compete with the top teams in the Big East, but they could be better this year if some newcomers can contribute immediately.
Key Losses: G Anthony Farmer, F J.R. Inman
The team’s big names out of the group of newcomers are James Beatty and Dane Miller. Beatty, a junior college transfer, could be starting at the point guard position from day one. Beatty knows how to run and this is a group that can get the ball up and down the floor a little more than last year as long as Beatty has the ball in his hands. Miller, along with power forward Austin Johnson, will give the team some much needed options at the forward spots. With the eligibility of 6-7 forward Jonathan Mitchell, a transfer from Florida, the Scarlet Knights might finally have some weapons in the paint.
Yet, it is still the backcourt that will lead this team. Mike Rosario had a superb freshman campaign, easily leading the team with 16.2 points per game. He will once again be the leader of this team and could even run some point as long he remembers that the offense should slow down when the ball is in his hands. Earl Pettis only averaged 4.6 points per game last year, but he turned into a decent leader on the floor. Whether he starts or not remains to be seen, but he will have competition from Corey Chandler. Chandler is a capable scorer when his shot is falling and could emerge as a great complimentary perimeter scorer to Rosario.
The lack of depth up front was a huge problem last year. Gregory Echenique had a great freshman campaign tallying 8.4 points and just as many rebounds per contest. Hamady N’Diaye will not score as much, but he is a good shot blocker when he can stay out of foul trouble. Echenique could be in for a huge season now that the frontcourt has some other weapons that the opposition needs to worry about. There is nothing that he cannot do. While N’Diaye is a good shot blocker, Echenique is just as competent in that department and he can also score and rebound with anybody in the Big East.
Who to Watch:
The most important players on this team will be the newcomers. How well can Mitchell and Miller adapt to life in the Big East? Will the frontcourt finally be something to be somewhat proud of for Scarlet Knight fans? With Echenique leading the way there is certainly the possibility, but Mitchell, Miller and Johnson all have to immediately contribute off the bench, or even in a starting role, if this team wants to move up the Big East standings.
Coach Hill has some pieces in place. Rosario and Echenique are a great sophomore duo to build around and there is some depth on the perimeter with Mike Coburn capable of handling the ball. This team should be better than they were last year, but this is still the Big East and expecting a vast amount of improvement just is not realistic.
Projected Post-season Tournament: CBI/CIT
Projected Starting Five:
James Beatty, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Mike Rosario, Sophomore, Guard, 16.2 points per game
Earl Pettis, Junior, Guard, 4.6 points per game
Gregory Echenique, Sophomore, Forward, 8.4 points per game
Hamady N’Diaye, Senior, Center, 5.6 points per game