Rutgers Seniors Bring NCAA Experience

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – The majority of the Rutgers roster was in diapers the last time the Scarlet Knights aw an NCAA tournament. In the first year under head coach Eddie Jordan, who played guard the last time Rutgers made a tournament run, postseason experience from transfers Wally Judge and J.J. Moore have been offseason talking points.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – As first-year Rutgers basketball coach Eddie Jordan puts it, J.J. Moore and Wally Judge have been through the wars.

The only seniors on the roster, Moore and Judge have been to NCAA tournaments with their previous schools, and that experience is a major teaching point in the early stages of the 2013-14 season.

"I think it's helping a lot," said Moore, who was a No. 1 seed with Pittsburgh in the 2011 NCAA tournament. "They look at me as an older guy. I'm a senior. They look at me to tell them how things have been through the years and what to expect.

"I've been through three years being under a winning program … being high in the league as a prominent program. They're taking it all in. They're feeding in to it. They know now. Being a senior is one of the best things to bring to them."

Judge transferred from Kansas State, after reaching the Elite Eight while with the Wildcats. The center debuted last year after sitting out the 2011-12 season per NCAA transfer regulations.

Set to take the court as a fifth-year senior, he wants to return to the tournament this year.

"There always has been talent," Judge said. "My experience from playing in the NCAA tournament and playing against higher ranked teams is that it's not necessarily the team with the most talent that wins. It's always the team that plays better together. That's what we're keying on. We feel like we can be that way."

Rutgers avoided naming specific goals or expectations for the first year under Jordan. Only six players returned from last year's roster, and they have yet to face anyone but themselves in preseason.

Making the NCAA tournament is not an explicit goal for the 2013-14 Rutgers basketball team, but it is for Judge.

"That's the goal for everybody," Judge said. "If you're a college basketball player, that should always be a goal. It's one thing to be humble, and it's another thing to be realistic with yourself. If that's the goal that we intend to do, then why be afraid to say it? I'm not afraid to say that's our goal."

Judge does his best to focus on this season, but is happy to share stories of past successes in the NCAA tournament. For players like Myles Mack and Jerome Seagears that have not experienced it, stories from Judge and Moore serve as a motivator.

"I give them the glitz and glamor of it," Judge said. "Being out of class and getting to travel the country, you're seeing the response you get from playing at away arenas and how great of a feeling it is to finally see that entire following come together."

With a head coach that played in the tournament and two seniors that had the same experience at previous schools, the Rutgers locker room has an understanding of what it will take to make it this year.

"We're just on the rise trying to bring this program up," Moore said. "I see the talent, and I see guys that want to be successful and buy into everything that the coaching staff is teaching. We have to work together. We have to be great."

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