Thursday, April 11, 2024

Despite player exodus, Rutgers staff is focused on important offseason

photo courtesy of USA Today

by Mark Remsa

There is no doubt that the Rutgers Men’s Basketball 2023-24 campaign was deflating and very disappointing. The 2023-24 season will be one of the more forgettable ones in Steve Pikiell’s tenure at Rutgers.

At times throughout the season, this team was painstakingly unwatchable due to having one of the worst offenses in all of college basketball. Fans were promised an offense that could navigate the floor at high-speed, crack 80 points a night, and drain more three-pointers than ever before, but in the end this offense failed to crack 50 points twice this year, averaged a meager 65.4 points per game, and were near the bottom of the country in almost every offensive category.

To make matters worse, towards the tail end of the regular season when the going got tough, the tough failed to get going. Rutgers barely limped across the finish line as they were blown out in several home contests, including embarrassing double-digit defeats to Ohio State, Maryland, and Penn State, crushed in the First Round of the Big Ten Tournament, and registered just one win in their last eight games.

So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there was a mass exodus of players from this past season’s squad.

Continue reading this article on The Knight Report on Rivals.

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Princeton transfer Zach Martini is just the guy Rutgers needs

photo courtesy of Princeton Athletics

by Mark Remsa

There is no denying the truth that this past season was the worst offensive unit Rutgers fans witnessed under Steve Pikiell since his first season on The Banks.

Except for a few games this season, Rutgers performed very poorly on the offensive end of the floor as the Scarlet Knights failed to crack 50 points twice this season and averaged just 65.4 points per game, which rates near the bottom of Division I basketball. Rutgers also struggled mightily in almost every offensive category this past season as the Scarlet Knights finished 299th in adjusted offensive efficiency, per KenPom.

To pretty much sum it up, this offense was absolutely brutal to watch this year.

Continue reading this article on The Knight Report on Rivals.

Saturday, March 9, 2024

NET Rankings of Rutgers' Opponents (thru 3/11)

photo courtesy of NJ Advance Media

NET Rankings of Rutgers' Opponents (thru 3/8)

Here are the NET Rankings of Rutgers opponents for games played through March 8th. Rutgers currently sits at 92 in the NET Rankings as they are 15-16 overall and are 7-13 in the Big Ten. Despite winning four in a row in early to mid-February, Rutgers has dropped six of their last seven contests thus diminishing their hopes for an NCAA Tournament bid and NIT berth. It has been a disappointing 2023-24 regular season campaign for Steve Pikiell and Rutgers, but they look to rebound in the Big Ten Tournament.

Let's see how Rutgers has fared this season.

For a complete listing of the NET Rankings please click here.

Rutgers' Record in Each Quadrant

  • Quadrant 1: 3-11
  • Quadrant 2: 3-3
  • Quadrant 3: 2-1
  • Quadrant 4: 7-0

NET Rankings of Rutgers' Opponents
Nov. 6, vs Princeton*, L (51, Q2)
Nov. 10, Boston U.*, W (290, Q4)
Nov. 12, Bryant*, W (168, Q4)
Nov. 15, Georgetown*, W (204, Q4)
Nov. 18, Howard*, W (278, Q4)
Nov. 27, Saint Peter's*, W (187, Q4)
Dec. 2, Illinois, L (16, Q1)
Dec. 6, at Wake Forest*, L (41, Q1)
Dec. 9, at Seton Hall*, W (63, Q1)
Dec. 16, Long Island*, W (347, Q4)
Dec. 23, vs Mississippi State*, L (39, Q1)
Dec. 30, Stonehill*, W (356, Q4)
Jan. 3, at Ohio State, L (60, Q1)
Jan. 6, at Iowa, L (58, Q1)
Jan. 9, Indiana, W (94, Q3)
Jan. 14, at Michigan State, L (23, Q1)
Jan. 17, Nebraska, W (42, Q2)
Jan. 21, at Illinois, L (16, Q1)
Jan. 28, Purdue, L (2, Q1)
Jan. 31, Penn State, L (96, Q3)
Feb. 3, at Michigan, W (129, Q2)
Feb. 6, at Maryland, W (72, Q1)
Feb. 10, Wisconsin, W (22, Q1)
Feb. 15, Northwestern, W (52, Q2)
Feb. 18, at Minnesota, L (82, Q2)
Feb. 22, at Purdue, L (2, Q1)
Feb. 25, Maryland, L (72, Q2)
Feb. 29, Michigan, W (129, Q3)
Mar. 3, at Nebraska, L (42, Q1)
Mar. 7, at Wisconsin, L (22, Q1)
Mar. 10, Ohio State, L (60, Q2)
Q1 home games are highlighted in yellow
Q1 road games are highlighted in green
Q1 neutral site games are highlighted in blue
* non-conference game

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Rutgers must finish the season on a positive note

photo courtesy of USA Today

Rutgers must finish the season on a positive note.

by Mark Remsa

It was only 11 days ago when the college basketball community was discussing the notion that Rutgers basketball was back in the NCAA Tournament conversation. After all, Rutgers was playing its best basketball of the season and reeled off four big wins in a row, including two road wins and a blowout of previously 11th-ranked Wisconsin. Rutgers had done so well, newcomer Jeremiah Williams earned Big Ten Player of the Week for averaging 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists in the Scarlet Knights’ wins over Maryland and Wisconsin.

During the Scarlet Knights’ four-game winning streak, Rutgers played with energy, emotion, and for what felt like the first time this season they were actually having fun on the court.

Continue reading this article on The Knight Report on Rivals.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Rutgers' elite defense will be key for potential upset of Purdue

photo courtesy of NJ Advance Media

If Rutgers wants to pull off an incredible upset of #3 Purdue, they need to play elite defense.

by Mark Remsa

Rutgers’ March Madness chances are hanging by a thread and now the margin for error is extremely slim, but a win at 3rd-ranked Purdue on Thursday could go a long way and put the Scarlet Knights in a better position.

So, how will Rutgers be able to pull off the unthinkable in one of the toughest and most grueling atmospheres in all of college hoops on Thursday?

It’s simple.

Rutgers needs to play elite defense.

All season long, Rutgers has relied heavily on its defense to win games and to compensate for the poor offense.

Yes, the offense has been horrible for most of the season, but during the Scarlet Knights’ recent four-game winning streak, the defense has been off the charts good.

As a matter of fact, the defense was so good, for about two weeks in a row Rutgers was the “best” defensive team in all of college basketball, according to KenPom. Currently, Rutgers ranks as the nation’s 2nd best team in adjusted defensive efficiency, behind Houston and ahead of Iowa State.

Continue reading this article on The Knight Report on Rivals.

Friday, February 9, 2024

Jeremiah Williams providing a big lift for Rutgers

photo courtesy of USA Today

After overcoming a serious Achilles injury in the offseason and ruled eligible to play by the NCAA as of last week, the transfer guard made his debut and has given Rutgers basketball life.

by Mark Remsa

It was only nine days ago when Rutgers suffered an embarrassing 15-point home loss, perhaps the worst of the season, to lowly Penn State in front of an electric crowd at The RAC. Rutgers played its worst basketball and the backcourt proved to be no match for Penn State as Rutgers’ guards committed a combined 11 turnovers, caving under pressure to the Nittany Lions defense.

Desperate to end a three-game skid, Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell began searching for answers and ways for his team to win going forward. He certainly found them in transfer guard Jeremiah Williams.

After not playing for nearly two years due to an Achilles injury and finally being ruled eligible to play by the NCAA, Jeremiah Williams returned to the hardwood and became the catalyst behind Rutgers’ most recent back-to-back road wins against Michigan and Maryland.

The veteran guard never missed a step in his first game back in action this past Saturday against Michigan as Pikiell immediately inserted Williams into the starting lineup with Derek Simpson, Jamichael Davis, Mawot Mag, and Cliff Omoruyi.

The move by Pikiell turned out to be a brilliant one.

It was a surprising move to say the least but Pikiell knows his team best. After all, Williams had been practicing with the team since the summer. The Knight Report's very own Richie Schnyderite had been highly impressed with Williams after watching him in-person during several preseason workouts leading up to the season.

Williams showed very little signs of rust and played 30 minutes, scored 10 points, generated 2 assists, and grabbed 6 rebounds. Williams showed confidence on the floor and was fearless while under control when attacking the basket. Williams used his speed to help dictate pace in transition and also distributed the basketball with crisp ball movement and making smart decisions.

In his second game of the season, Williams helped engineer an improbable road victory over Maryland as the Chicago native scored 14 points, shot 5/9 from the field, drilled two clutch 3-point shots, remained perfect from the free-throw line, grabbed five rebounds, and was a defensive pest, hounding the Terrapins on virtually every possession.

With 34 seconds left in regulation, Williams scored on the most important layup of the game with 0.1 seconds left on the shot-clock to give Rutgers a 54-51 lead, which ultimately helped propel the Scarlet Knights to victory.

What was also remarkable about Williams’ play against Maryland was his ability to play hard-nosed, unrelenting defense with four personal fouls for 11 minutes in the second half, and never fouling out of the game.

After the game, Maryland head coach Kevin Willard spoke highly of Williams adding, “their [Rutgers] addition of Jeremiah Williams totally changes their team.”

Since Williams’ return this past week, Rutgers has played noticeably better. The offense may not be significantly improved, but Williams is showing veteran leadership on the floor and he’s helping those around him rise to a higher level as his teammates have fed off of his energy.

Williams has been instrumental in helping create plays and opportunities for scoring by utilizing his awareness and vision, something the backcourt has been lacking in the games before him. His ability to navigate the lanes has also helped Mawot Mag and Cliff Omoruyi receive passes closer to the basket with better looks to score.

Not only has Williams been a big boost on the offensive end, but he’s been key in helping Rutgers defend opposing teams’ guards better by quickly moving on ball handlers with suffocating pressure and providing defensive help with his teammates to force turnovers.

With only nine games remaining in the regular season, Steve Pikiell and Rutgers will need every bit out of Williams to help Rutgers possibly go on an improbable run and possibly earn a postseason berth.