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Despite improved defense, Rutgers offense disappoints in Big Ten play

After going 11-2 in non-conference play, the Scarlet Knights have lost their first four Big Ten games.

NCAA Basketball: Rutgers at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

The same can be said for Rutgers basketball.

Despite the Scarlet Knights 11 non conference wins, Rutgers has proven that they’re still not up to par in the Big Ten conference. I hate to say it, but from watching every Big Ten offense this year, Rutgers stands out as the worst by far.

When watching Rutgers play, you realize that the personnel doesn’t quite fit the system.

Although they play incredibly hard, the Scarlet Knights have few shooters, and even fewer quality ball handlers. Mike Williams has been deadly from beyond the arc, shooting 38.2 percent. However, the rest of the team is only converting at a 25.9 percent clip. There’s no way to win in the Big Ten when you’re not making shots, no matter how hard you play.

Through 15 games, Rutgers ranks last in the Big Ten in three point shooting and overall scoring.

In terms of ball handling, it’s been a mess for Rutgers. Besides Corey Sanders, Mike Williams, and Nigel Johnson, you can’t trust many players against good perimeter defense. Definitely a problem, especially when your offense requires everyone touching the ball.

Rutgers half court set features a lot of passing on the outside. All well and good if your players are strong ball handlers, but on many possessions, you have Rutgers big men facilitating the offense.

Not many good things have come from seven footer C.J Gettys holding the ball 25 feet away from the basket. Same with Deshawn Freeman and Candido Sa. These guys are classic rebounding big men; passing, shooting, and decision making isn’t their strong suits.

Rutgers offense needs players who can create, something that is sorely lacking right now. Steve Pikiell is only in his first year. Surely as time passes, he will bring in more players who will do just that.

As for now, the Scarlet Knights do really get after it on defense. Overall, effort hasn’t been an issue. It’s plain to see that this year’s team has bought into Pikiell’s vision and the culture is changing.

That is something Rutgers fans can be optimistic about.

There are better days ahead for Rutgers with Steve Pikiell at the controls. In fact, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo echoed the statement following their recent loss in East Lansing.

At some point, though, Rutgers will need to win a Big Ten game to justify optimism. With their offensive shortcomings, it will not be easy, but it’s bound to happen.

Ideally, Rutgers needs to muddy the game up in order to compete with the top tier competition. If they try and get out and run with teams in the Big Ten, they won’t have the firepower to last.

By playing strong defense and cutting down on turnovers, the Scarlet Knights will be able to have more opportunities for rebounds (ideally offensive rebounds). Winning on the glass is a place where Rutgers has excelled, currently ranked sixth in the nation with 43.7 boards per game.

Coming up for Rutgers, their schedule does get a little bit more manageable. The program came close to knocking off Iowa this Sunday and follows with a home tilt versus Northwestern on Thursday. Although everyone in the Big Ten is more talented, the Scarlet Knights could definitely steal a game this Thursday if they play their style.