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Rutgers Scarlet Knights 2015-16 Senior Class Departs After a Trainwreck of a Season

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The 2015-16 season was an absolute disaster for Rutgers and not the way their seniors wanted to go out, but at least they managed to avoid a winless conference season

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Rutgers was bad in 2015-16. So bad that they didn't win a Big Ten game until their regular season finale against Minnesota, a home game against an opponent that had five scholarship players participating thanks to injuries and suspensions. The Scarlet Knights didn't fare much better in the non-conference slate either, only winning five games against Division I opponents and struggling to beat non-Division I opponent Rutgers-Newark in their opener. When everything was said and done Rutgers went 0-23 against the RPI top 200 (only three wins against top 325 teams) and their best win was an eight point win over Fairleigh Dickinson.

With that being said, the end result of head coach Eddie Jordan getting fired wasn't exactly a major surprise. While Rutgers (and Jordan) may have been in over their heads this season (and last), several comments made by Jordan, such as this one in particular, didn't exactly help create any confidence or optimism that he was the right guy to turn things around. You could point to the lack of talent at hand for the Scarlet Knights team, but there never seemed to be a time where Rutgers was going to be capable of competing in the Big Ten under Jordan. Of course it didn't help that the team couldn't retain talent either, with a mass exodus of four transfers after last season.

That being said, the point of this article is to look at the departing senior class, though they'll likely be joined by a number of underclassmen as well. So far only Justin Goode has announced that he's transferring, but they did lose a 2016 commit in Maishe Dailey and now could lose their best player in Corey Sanders as he has announced he's entering the NBA Draft. While Sanders isn't hiring an agent, one has to wonder if he'll return as there was quite a bit of speculation that recent hire Steve Pikiell would have to work at keeping Sanders in Jersey regardless, with a number of people believing Sanders could transfer.

On top of that is the departing senior class, including Bishop Daniels, Omari Grier, Greg Lewis and Jalen Hyde. The loss of Daniels and Grier will ultimately leave the Rutgers backcourt a touch thin, with the duo combining for 16.4 points per game in around 48 minutes between the pair each night. While the team still has Mike Williams, as well as possibly Corey Sanders, Omari Grier was the teams best perimeter threat, hitting 40.5% of his threes while no other key player shot better than 31.5% from three. The possibility of building around Sanders and Williams would definitely keep the Rutgers backcourt at the same level, if not better (depending on player development) next season, but if Sanders heads off to play professionally (or transfers) then the backcourt is going to be thin and in desperate need of playmakers (even with the addition of Kansas State transfer Nigel Johnson, who will become eligible in 2016-17).

As for Greg Lewis, the 6'9" senior didn't have a particularly inspiring season as he could only hit 35.9% of his field goals and scored only 4.0 points per game over 21.1 minutes. The Scarlet Knights will retain D.J. Foreman, so they have at least one decent option inside, but the frontcourt as a whole was another colossal weak spot this past season for Rutgers. Not making things any better is the fact that the current 2016 recruiting class for Rutgers includes two guards and a wing, with Issa Thiam the closest thing to providing any size for Rutgers (he's 6'8"). One positive, though, is they should get back DeShawn Freeman, who was averaging 12.6 points and 4.9 rebounds through the first eight games before missing the remainder of the season due to an injury (and a suspension later on).

While Rutgers is once again set to lose a laundry list of players that were on the roster heading into the 2015-16 season, the question is does it even matter? We can point out that Rutgers will have a lack of talent compared to other Big Ten programs and then speculate over the inexperience, but it's going to be difficult to replicate this past season's lack of success. The old "things can't get any worse" saying holds a lot of truth here and even if Rutgers loses several key contributors from this past season, bringing in new faces and fresh talent can only be seen as a positive. The reality is Rutgers is in a difficult spot in the Big Ten, surrounded by teams that have considerably more talented rosters funded by athletic departments considerably more willing to spend money on their basketball programs.

It's sad that the seniors had to go out with an absolute thud this season, but at least they managed to knock off Minnesota and not go winless throughout conference play.