Carroll Ready for More Minutes vs. Louisville

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Austin Carroll is coming off of strong back-to-back performances, and because of it Rutgers coach Mike Rice said he will increase the freshman guard's minutes Tuesday against No. 16 Louisville.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Austin Carroll came to Rutgers with the reputation of a 3-point shooting specialist who, as a coach's kid, also brought a high understanding of the game.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound freshman guard showed that in the last two games, and because of it is set to see increased playing time Tuesday when the Scarlet Knights host No. 16 Louisville at 9 p.m.

After returning from a knee injury and scoring four points in four games, Carroll found a grove lately and scored career-highs in back-to-back games.

"He's forcing me to play him more minutes," Rutgers coach Mike Rice said after Monday's practice. "I didn't love his consistency in practice, but since he's knee injury – I have no idea why – he's played harder, seems to be more focused and have more of an edge to the everyday approach. He's got a lot of confidence."

Rice added he could play Carroll "18 to 20 minutes" against the Cardinals, and that could go a long way in taking the playing time burden off a couple of Rutgers starters.

Mike Coburn is averaging 33.6 minutes in the last nine games and James Beatty is averaging 33.5 minutes in the last 10 games.

The danger with playing Carroll more minutes against Louisville comes on the defensive end, where he has struggled with his consistency in stopping dribble penetration. But Rice said Carroll is showing overall improvement on defense.

"He's getting better," Rice said. "He's got to be an incredible position defender, and at times he's more worried about his man and what's going on."

Carroll arrived with a heightened understanding of the game, a by-product of his father, John, the former coach at Duquesne and the Boston Celtics.

But Carroll's development was slowed when he torn meniscus in his left knee Jan. 2 at Villanova. He had surgery a few days later and missed seven games before returning Jan. 29 against Pittsburgh.

"It came at possibly the worst time, my first Big East game," Carroll said. "I was starting to feel pretty comfortable out there. When I got that injury, it sucked. I wanted to keep going up. It held me back from being more comfortable on the court."

Carroll returned from the injury in four weeks but his value was limited to eating up minutes on a team in desperate need of depth.

However, Carroll's fortune changed a bit last weekend against Seton Hall when he scored a career-high eight points, including a pair of big 3-pointers late in the second half when the Scarlet Knights were trying to rally.

Then, this past weekend at Syracuse, Carroll hit a trio of 3-pointers and finished with a career-best nine points.

"If you have a game like (Seton Hall) toward the end of the season, especially after coming back from this injury, I think it helps confidence, it helps your mindset," Carroll said. "I think it helps with a lot of different things."

After scoring four points and going 1 of 2 from the field in his first five Big East games, Carroll is 5 of 9 from the field (5 of 8 from 3-point range) in the last two contests.

"I think there were benefits from not playing and seeing and watching what was going on," Carroll said. "It allowed me to take a step back and take it all in."

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