The Rutgers locker room reacted proudly to its performance as underdogs against Monmouth, and head coach Eddie Jordan applauded the team’s harmony during a 73-67 home loss.
Jordan and team leaders showed almost no public frustration after the loss despite a guaranteed losing record to start conference play.
“The effort and the harmony of the team were at a season-high,” Jordan said in his opening post-game commentary. “We gave great effort, shared the ball and tried to stay organized especially in the second half. We made a lot of adjustments because we don’t have three bigs who are important to our success and rotation.”
Well it’s time to see if the power of positivity pays off.
“If we’re going to lose, then let’s not lose by 30,” said sophomore guard Mike Williams. “Let’s go out fighting and show people that we really can play basketball. We came back. The ball just didn’t bounce the way we want.”
Rutgers (4-7) trimmed a 13-point lead within one possession but every open look in the closing minutes missed. The loss to Monmouth was the first in 10 games against the Hawks.
It becomes a quick turnaround against Fairleigh Dickinson (4-6) tonight at the RAC in the final game before players break for Christmas.
“[We need] a short-term memory,” Williams said. “We get back in the gym and just keep practicing. … Everybody is a good player. The ball just wasn’t bouncing the way we wanted it to.”
Rutgers does have a fortuitous matchup against FDU, where major size concerns emerged after the latest injury at forward. The FDU Knights are at a size disadvantage to Rutgers in the starting rotation and have one 6-foot-7 post as the tallest player on the roster.
Jordan has only two healthy post players on his roster – 6-foot-9 Greg Lewis and 6-foot-8 D.J. Foreman. Injuries to Shaquille Doorson (foot), Ibrahima Diallo (foot) and DeShawn Freeman (knee) have all three out indefinitely.
Freshman 6-foot-6 wing Jonathan Laurent picks up temporary responsibilities at the four and five while guards Omari Grier and Williams move to forward.
“As a team, we’re coming even closer together, as you can see from [Diallo’s] injury,” Foreman said. “We can’t make excuses and we have to play harder.”
Foreman scored six points and grabbed 11 boards in his first game since Diallo’s injury.
“I just can’t foul as much,” Foreman said. “At the same time I have to bring up my production. … For the first time, I was a little nervous because if I get two fouls, we’re down a big. I don’t want to put anyone on our team in that position. At the same time after a while, I just kept playing. This is what I’ve been doing for a long time – playing basketball. I just played my game.”