Prime Time: Day 1 Rundown

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Rutgers signee Mike Rosario made himself comfortable on the court he'll play his collegiate ball the next four years. While the first two games at the Prime Time were pedestrian, the nightcap was worth the wait.

When two of the Garden State's finest tangle and 5,000 are invited to watch, the thinking is the game is going to be hard fought. St. Benedict's, on the strength of its behemoth's inside, held off St. Pat's 68-62.


No Surprise, Samuels Delivers
Can you guess who did the damage for the Gray Bees? That's right, Samardo Samuels. Credited with 30 points, it was who put his club on his back in the closing minutes. Powerful and determined, the best player these eyes have ever seen from Montego Bay delivered the goods.

Samuels wasn't without assistance. Greg Echenique fouled out but not before he left an indelible mark on the game with his post presence.

When St. Bene's threatened to run away with the contest, junior Dexter Strickland dipped into the telephone booth and put on his Batman cape. Strickland didn't start but was inserted into the lineup to begin the second quarter. He hit for 10 in the half and finished with 29 as he caught fire late.

Mike Rosario, SG, St. Anthony's – If there's an adjustment Rosario will need to make as a freshman it'll have to come on the road. After scoring 33 points and smoothly draining 5-of-7 3-pointers, he's now acquainted with the rims at the RAC. While the Friars hung a 50-point first half on John Carroll, it was their defensive intensity that truly set the tone. Spearheaded by Rosario, St. Anthony's rolled out to a 19-0 lead.

Brandon Jennings, PG, Oak Hill – The paying customers and first time observers received their monies worth. Aside from a blown dunk and lay-up his game was riddled with no look passes and fade away bombs. He hit for 25-plus and didn't blink. When Oak Hill emerged from the locker room needing a second half boost, Jennings powered up and got it done.

Samardo Samuels, C/PF, St. Benedict's – BEAST.


Strickland Fuels Comeback
Dexter Strickland, SG, St. Patrick – The UNC-bound wing may have missed two shots but that was it. Strickland stuck 3-of-4 from downtown and hit a series of tough shots late in the game. Frankly, the St. Pat's guards unwillingness to defer to his hot hand in the last minute of the game may have cost Kevin Boyle's team a shot at the comeback. No matter, Strickland was impressive and efficient.

Greg Echenique, C, St. Benedict's – He's a dinosaur, the last of a dying breed of centers in America. Normally we expound on his post defense but not this time. When Echenique hit St. Pat's with a counter move inside and powered through for a dunk the message was sent: his offense is coming. We've seen him a lot this year and he's improved every time out. You win lots of games in college with a kid like this. Plus, his size is a problem.

Dan Jennings, C, Oak Hill – The New Yorker took advantage of Piscataway's size disadvantage and powered his way to 15 points. He also rejected a handful of shots in what might have been his top game of the season.

Michael Gilchrist, F, St. Patrick – There's no debating that he's a super prospect. Rangy, agile, long and athletic there's no telling how good this kid can be. His coach treats him like he's anything but a freshman and he's thrown right into the fire with one of the best teams around. A competitive kid and great looking prospect.

Dominic Cheek has an upper respiratory infection and won't return until next week. … The entire Rutgers basketball team raced from practice to watch Mike Rosario perform. ...

Here's a fun game to play: who is St. Anthony's second best guard? Is it the steady and strong lead guard Jio Fontan? How about the athletic Tyshawn Taylor, possibly the team's most versatile backcourt standout. Oops, can't forget Pittsburgh-bound Travon Woodall, the unselfish set up for the crew. This team is embarrassingly loaded in the backcourt. …

We fully expect Jio Fontan to be an all-league player in the Atlantic 10 early in his career. … Sophomore Tristan Thompson guarded much smaller wings and gave them fits. His ability to check a point or shooting guard allowed the Gray Bees to go big and knock St. Pat's around inside. … St. Pat's power forward Quintrell Thomas is a powerful and explosive player. However, it was rough sledding against the big boys from St. Bene's inside. He didn't back down but figuring ways to score versus the size he'll see in the Big 12 is next on the agenda. …

Keith Gallon openly spoke in the past of LSU leading for his services. However, with the removal of John Brady the Tigers now have their work cut out keeping his allegiance. Arizona, Baylor, Georgetown, USC and Syracuse may dabble with him before it's over. … Dan Jennings is getting hit by Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Seton hall, St. John's, Memphis, Oklahoma State and Xavier. …

Head Coaches In Attendance -- Fred Hill, Rutgers; Jamie Dixon, Pittsburgh.

Assistant Coaches In Attendance -- Villanova, Rutgers, Syracuse, St. Peter's, Cincinnati, Seton Hall.

SCOREBOARD

  • St. Anthony's 71, John Carroll 33
  • Oak Hill 81, Piscataway 39
  • St. Benedict's 68, St. Patrick 62

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