For the most part, every Rutgers loss this year has brought me to the same conclusion.
The Scarlet Knights play hard, but they’e obviously outclassed.
While both are true, I think it’s time to start holding them accountable.
There isn’t any new talent arriving this year, so Rutgers needs to get it done with what they have. I say that, because the Scarlet Knights have proven that they can win. They’ve won games against bad teams, games against mediocre teams, but most importantly, they have won halves against good teams (in some cases more than a half).
It’s time to stop making excuses. Over the past two games, the Scarlet Knights squandered two very good opportunities for their first Big Ten win.
On the road at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Rutgers was up 51-42 over Iowa with 10:12 remaining. At that point, instead of playing their best, Rutgers went scoreless for nearly five minutes. Slowly, the Hawkeyes started to climb back in the game. Before Rutgers knew what hit them, Iowa took the lead with 3:59 left. The Hawkeyes would never look back, eventually winning 68-62.
Against Northwestern, Rutgers dominated the first half. Their energy had Northwestern rattled and things looked promising as the first half wound down. What should have been a 28-23 halftime lead, was spoiled by Corey Sanders shooting foul on Nathan Taphorn as the buzzer sounded. Consequently, Taphorn hit both free throws and the game was never the same. After three minutes passed in the second half, the Wildcats took the lead and never looked back.
After watching almost every Rutgers game this year, it’s obvious that the Scarlet Knights just aren’t as talented as the rest of the conference. Steve Pikiell will eventually get Rutgers up to par; but for now, they have enough to win at least a few Big Ten games this year (one is a start).
I know Rutgers is the punch-line for a lot of people, and I totally understand that. However, they did beat Iowa on the road for 36 minutes, and look what the Hawkeyes just did to Purdue. It’s completely feasible for Rutgers to knock someone off this year, they just need to learn how to close out games.
Also, Rutgers needs their offense to improve going forward. Mainly C.J Gettys, Nigel Johnson and Mike Williams, the three have combined to shoot 12-54 in the last two games, an atrocious 22 percent. Additionally, it seems their confidence levels are low. When Rutgers needs a basket most, only Corey Sanders has the gall to create a play. Otherwise, the offense before a shot goes up, seems very timid in pressure spots.
As of now, Rutgers has 13 more cracks at a Big Ten win, something they desperately need. By beating a big program, it will help recruiting, help the current team’s morale, but most importantly, give the fan base something to feel good about. Rutgers fans came out of the woodwork after their 11-1 start, you can’t afford to have them bailing already.