The Scarlet Knights took care of business as expected in the tune-up game against Baruch College. But business is about to pick up.
Rutgers goes into season mode tonight with the Sunday night opener against George Washington looming. Rutgers lost to GW last season, and senior Kadeem Jack is questionable for tipoff after the latest developments with his thumb injury. ScarletReport.com took in Saturday’s exhibition and offers thoughts on what went well and where there are signs for concern.
Playing Big -- The Rutgers big men did not play down to their competition. Greg Lewis and Shaquille Doorson played the way Big Ten centers should play against Baruch College. Lewis showed significant improvement with the ball in his hands, both as a passer at the top of the key and in backing down Baruch bigs. Doorson was by far the biggest guy on the court, and used his size well. The duo combined for 20 points and 20 boards in what could become an interesting battle for the starting center spot.
Daniels Debuts -- Juco transfer Bishop Daniels will be an instant spark for Rutgers at guard. The junior gives another legitimate ball handling option. Starting him alongside Myles Mack gives both a chance at stronger seasons. In his first Division I appearance since leaving Miami, Daniels played quick and slashed his way for 11 points and four boards in 16 minutes.
More than a Shooter -- Freshman guard Mike Williams exceeded expectations on the defensive end. Williams appeared comfortable in the Rutgers scheme. His hustle plays in the first half went a long way in building the 36-point halftime lead. Williams blocked a Baruch forward in the post with quick hands. He added four points, three boards and a block to the victory.
Mack Doesn’t Do Much -- Yes, this is a positive. Senior guard Myles Mack played just a small role and Rutgers was just fine. Rutgers has more than just two scoring options this season, which takes pressure off Mack. With Jack out entirely and Mack deferring to younger guys offensively, Rutgers still scored 86 points. Mack’s smaller offensive role did not stop him from a disruptive defensive showing.
Slow it Down -- Rutgers rarely let the shot clock drop below 20 seconds on offensive possessions. If anything close to an open look presented itself, the shot was in there air. Forward Junior Etou showed the same quick trigger on his jump shot, which yielded negative results during his freshman season.
Motion Sickness -- Baruch College put Rutgers off balance early with crisp passing in the same way that teams like Yale and Princeton created issues last season. It was not a problem Saturday – Rutgers compensated with a major talent advantage – but could be trouble in non-conference play.
Missing Jack -- Rutgers is a different team without Jack, and not in a good way. The Scarlet Knights essentially played four guys in the perimeter with only D.J. Foreman working his way inside with the centers. Foreman, a true freshman from Spring Valley, N.Y., got off to a rough start. Foreman did not communicate well when passing from the top of the key. He added an early foul and turnover in his first two minutes. Foreman improved as he got more comfortable, and had a brilliant assist to Williams before halftime.
Depth Will Be an Issue -- Rutgers only has nine scholarship players available right now. It’s great when walk-on players get the chance to play, but Rutgers will end up needed more than garbage time out of Stephen Zurich and Khalil Batie. Batie put up a good showing at point guard when Jordan cleared the bench in the second half.
Jordan offered his take on the Baruch exhibition from the RAC media center after the game’s conclusion.