clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Can Steve Pikiell Get The Rutgers Scarlet Knights Back On Track?

New, 1 comment

Can Pikiell rebuild the Knights program?

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Jon RothsteinThe Eddie Jordan era came to a merciful end earlier this month. Under Jordan, the Scarlet Knights went 29-67 overalll and 8-46 (.148) in Big Ten play. A change was obviously needed and the person that is in charge of resurrecting the program will be Steve Pikiell. He is the former Stony Brook coach and signed a deal which is reportedly five-years with an annual salary of $1.6 million.

From 2011 to 2016, under Pikiell, Stony Brook won three America East regular season titles, while winning the conference tournament for the first time in school history this month in route to the Seawolves' first NCAA Tournament appearance. In that span, Stony Brook went 117-47, while appearing in two NIT and two CBI tournaments in addition to the NCAAs.

Pikiell has a massive rebuilding job ahead of him as Rutgers is in the worst shape of any Power Five program. They fell under 300 in KenPom's ratings and Eddie Jordan's record speaks for itself. The first thing Pikiell needs to do is make sure star freshman point guard Corey Sanders is on board with his program. Sanders was the lone bright spot for the Knights this season and him transferring would be a big blow to the team.

In general, Rutgers basketball hasn't had much success in awhile. The Scarlet Knights have not been to the NCAA tournament since 1991. As such, don't expect much success in year one as Pikiell won just four games in his first season at Stony Brook in 2005-06. That, along with the fact that the roster doesn't have many pieces, means it could be another long year in Piscataway.

Although Pikiell is a great hire he wasn't Rutgers first choice, according to Jon Rothstein of CBS and others Dan Hurley turned down a king's ransom to remain at Rhode Island. Pikiell should be able to recruit the area well as he has been within driving distance of New Jersey coaching only 90 miles from the Rutgers campus.

Another key order of business will be to put together a staff. Given his ties to Connecticut, look for him to tap into the Huskies' brand for some help. He also likely will wait on former right-hand man Jay Young, a rising star who could get promoted to the top spot at Stony Brook.

Either way, Pikiell discussed how he likes to build his roster at his press conference, not through the quick fixes of junior college transfers or high-risk prospects. At Stony Brook, he found under-the-radar talents like Jameel Warney, who was lightly recruited at Roselle Catholic High School and is now an All-America candidate.

For Rutgers fans, this is a great hire especially considering the top of the athletic departments troubles recently. As happened when he took over Stony Brook don't expect a quick fix here. It will be a long grueling process especially because he isn't coaching in the American East anymore. Hopefully after a few recruiting classes Coach Pikiell will have Rutgers basketball back at respectability in the Big Ten.