Does Rutgers have any fight left?
Head coach Eddie Jordan ardently says yes, but the evidence points elsewhere during an 11-game losing streak.
Eleven straight losses was borderline expected this year during the meat of the schedule, but the game-by-game output is consistently uglier than the last. The same team that was one shot away from an upset at Maryland or a possession short against Michigan lost its last five games by an average of 21 points.
Jordan blamed the talent differential for the 30-point loss in front of a sold-out RAC against unranked Indiana. That is the same Indiana Rutgers pushed to the limits on the road for loss No. 6 of the streak. It was also the last time Rutgers kept things truly competitive.
“We’re taking baby steps,” Jordan said during a strange post-game press conference Sunday. “We’re in the infancy of building our program. There is not, ‘no fight in us,’ none of that crap.”
Jordan says “there’s a lot of fight left,” but the locker room was clearly a defeated one after the second straight loss by 30 points or more.
“It’s real tough but we’ve got to make our way,” said center Greg Lewis. “We’re desperate right now, but there’s no excuses. We’ve got to get better.”
Is it all on Jordan and the coaching staff? Of course not.
The coaches are not the ones that shot 40 percent from the free throw line, nor or they at fault for the talent gap. When you inherit a team with four scholarship players, this is what happens.
Nobody expects Rutgers to string together some wins at this point, but to simply tread water until the season comes to its merciful end is not the way to go.
Rutgers (10-18, 2-12) has at least four games left. Losing them all is not a big deal, but show some effort and build towards next year.
Because to sit and wait for Corey Sanders to show up and fix everything isn’t the way to go.
“The way you play dictates the more minutes you deserve or you’re going to get,” Jordan said Monday on how he will distribute minutes. “I understand developing young kids and our freshmen get a lot of that in practice, extra work after practice, extra work before practice. But game time, you still have to earn your minutes.”