Analysis: Where Rutgers Is, And Needs to Be

The Rutgers men's basketball team had an up-and-down season as the mix of talent and youth created excitement and frustration. With the season over, breaks down each returning player, looking at the just-completed season, and the areas of improvement needed for the fall.

When Mike Rice inked a top 10 recruiting class and was coming off a masterful coaching job in his first season at Rutgers, it got the faithful fired up for a 2011-12 season.

Well, it didn't work out the way anybody hoped it would as a frustrating mix of talent and inexperience left the Scarlet Knights with a few big wins, and a number of maddening losses.

Rather than getting ready for what was expected to be at least NIT appearance after being ousted from the Big East, the Scarlet Knights are taking their 14-18 record to the offseason as they build toward big things in 2012-13.

Unlike other seasons, though, the best part of the just-finished season is loads of talent will be back in the fall, and the seven freshmen will all have a year of experience and expectations will be higher than at any point during the last decade.

So, as Rutgers transitions from this season to next, takes a look at each scholarship player, and does so knowing Rutgers didn't have any scholarship seniors this season.
(Players are with their 2012-13 year)

Gilvydas Biruta, F, 6-8, 245, Jr.
The energy and effort is always high, and he showed a better ability to rebound and added diversity to his game by incorporating some jump shots into his arsenal. However, he gets too many shots blocked and needs to do a markedly better job finishing around the basket and keeping a strong base in low-post defense.

Austin Carroll, G, 6-4, 205, Jr.
He missed almost the whole season with a knee injury, but could get the year back with a medical red-shirt. He has a good feel for the game, but needs to gain consistency with his shot while also getting better with his feet on defense..

Elijah Carter, G, 6-2, 190, So.
He showed a willingness to take big shots and was very good at getting to the basket. He also shot the ball extremely well at times. His biggest area of improvement needs to come in shot selection.

Kadeem Jack, F, 6-9, 220, So.
After missing the first month of the season with a broken foot, Jack moved slowly into the rotation in January. By the end of the season his athleticism, knack to rebound and finishing skills were shown in glimpse. He needs to improve everywhere, but strength is the biggest spot.

Austin Johnson, F, 6-8, 255, Sr.
At times, his quick hook shot paid dividends as he scored, but he too often he did not play with the toughness needed to rebound and defend in the Big East. Those are the areas that need improving, and if not, his playing time will diminish even more.

Wally Judge, F, 6-9, 245, Jr.
He sat out per NCAA rules after transferring from Kansas State. He is incredibly gifted athletically, but will have to prove he learned Rice's demanding defensive system.

Malick Kone, F, 6-5, 200, So.
After showing signs and a surprising early-season jump shot and feel for the game, he was never healthy and played sporadically because of a knee injury. Getting healthy and more comfortable playing at a fast pace is huge, as is getting better at driving to the basket and defending.

Greg Lewis, F, 6-9, 225, So.
Not having training camp because of injury hurt. He was unspectacular in limited minutes, and needs to work on his strength and footwork. It will be a big offseason because Lewis has potential, but needs to develop his offensive game and become a shot-blocker on defense.

Myles Mack, G, 5-9, 165, So.
Mack shot the ball well in stretches, competed hard and was a strong defender. However, he needs to get stronger, and also gain more consistency with his shot. Becoming a better driver to the basket in the half-court offense is another key area of development.

Dane Miller, F, 6-6, 215, Sr.
There is no one more athletic on the roster, and Miller showed a tremendous ability to pass, defend and rebound. He also drove to the basket at times, and finished well. That said, it is all about consistency, and Miller needs to become more consistent in inserting his talent on a game. He also needs to develop his outside shot. If he does, he can be a first-team Big East player.

Mike Poole, G, 6-5, 195, Jr.
Poole is long and defends well, and developed a nice mid-range jumper, which was effective as he drove to the basket. He needs to become a better perimeter shooter and continue to evolve as a rebounder.

Derrick Randall, F, 6-8, 235, So.
Randall lost much of his playing time last in the season because he kept getting lost on defensive assignments. He runs the floor well and is a natural rebounder, but needs to develop his offensive game, particularly his ability around the basket and his right hand.

Jerome Seagears, G, 6-1, 170, Fr.
He didn't shoot the ball as well as expected but he was solid as a point guard late in the season and cut down his turnovers. The ability to drive to the basket and create for others needs to develop, and an offseason of lifting and shooting should elevate his game plenty.

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