Rutgers basketball recently completed a four-game tour of Spain during the month of August and it offered a peak into the potential of this team in year 4 of the Steve Pikiell era.
The Scarlet Knights went 4-0 against various Spanish all-star and club teams in cities such as Madrid, Mataro, and Barcelona. Take a look below at box scores, interviews, and highlights of each game and some takeaways that could carry over for the 2019-’20 season.
Game 1 - Rutgers 96, Madrid All-Stars 78
Game 2 - Rutgers 86, CC Basketball Academy 47
Game 3 - Rutgers 101, Mataro All-Stars 72
Game 4 - Rutgers 104, El Marasme 87
Takeaways From The Trip
- Ron Harper Jr. Starts To Emerge
One of the big questions coming into the season for Rutgers is who will complement Geo Baker as a second scorer in the backcourt. Rutgers never really had an answer for this last season, and it needs one this season if it wants to finish above .500 for the first time since 2005-’06(!).
They might have found the answer in sophomore Ron Harper Jr.
Harper Jr. led the team in scoring on the trip averaged 17 points per game. His best game came in the third outing when he dropped 26 on 10-16 shooting in 22 minutes of play.
He needs to improve his three-point shooting (26 percent), and he could stand to try and get to the foul line more (only 12 attempts in four games). Still, this was a nice step for the sophomore wing and along with the solid play of junior Jacob Young, the backcourt seems to be coming together for Rutgers.
- Shaq Carter Shows Some Promise
The backcourt was not alone in showing some positive steps on the trip. The frontcourt play with sophomore Shaq Carter was also solid in some standout cases.
Carter had an excellent overseas trip averaging 16 and 9 on 62 percent shooting. It was a nice step forward for a player who did not score in double figures after mid-January last season.
The big men Rutgers faced on the trip often pale in comparison to what they will be facing in the Big Ten, but Carter stepping forward this season could go a long way in solidifying a frontcourt that was just looking for healthy bodies last season.
- Rutgers Showed It Can Battle Back
One of the other things coaches like to see on these overseas trips is how the squad deals with adversity.
Rutgers got a taste of it in their last game and rose to the occasion. The Scarlet Knights trailed El Maresme by nine at halftime of their last game. The team could have easily packed in the last half of their trip and headed home, but Rutgers came out in the second half and responded well.
The Scarlet Knights outscored El Maresme 60-34 in the second half and held the club team to 34 percent shooting from the field. Junior Geo Baker had the best game of his trip with 23 points and seven assists.
These games need to often be treated with an asterick, but it is still nice for Rutgers to come away from their summer trip undefeated, uninjured, and with their unquestioned leader performing well in adverse situations.