The Monmouth bench puts on the best show in college basketball. It matches up Sunday against what could be the shortest bench following another significant Rutgers injury.
After the latest incident in a series of bad luck and trouble – a fractured foot for center Ibrahima Diallo – Rutgers is down to two available forwards.
Center Greg Lewis and forward D.J. Foreman project to start tomorrow, which gives the bench an average height slightly about six feet. Freshman small forward Jonathan Laurent, 6-foot-6, is the only man off the bench with any post experience.
Diallo joins center Shaquille Doorson (foot) and forward DeShawn Freeman (knee) on the shelf.
“It’s really hard,” Foreman said the day before Diallo’s injury. “We’re trying to play without [Freeman]. That’s why we’re a team. It’s not about one person. With him on the court, it’s a better flow to the offense and stuff like that. We’re kind of having a hard time without him going through our offense but Coach put in some Princeton offense, and we’re having some good luck with that.”
Rutgers (4-6) did not start Monmouth-specific preparations until late in the week.
The Scarlet Knights are underdogs Sunday but took home an exciting victory last season in West Long Branch, N.J., with a Myles Mack buzzer-beater.
“They push the ball really well,” Foreman said on Monmouth. Their point guard is really good. Going into the game, we just have to play hard on defense and don’t let them leak out too much. That’s it. … They’re a really well-coached team and they stick to what they do best. “
The message from coach Eddie Jordan, who was open about his depth concerns, is a simple one – play harder, stay focused.
“I’ve said this before, and it’s no hit to our freshmen -- they’re not Kentucky freshmen,” Jordan said. “We’re developing. We have a good karma about ourselves. We’re just going through some bumps in the road. Right now we’re about learning and growing.”