Rutgers is winless in Big Ten play this year with a conference losing streak that dates back to last season’s upset over No. 4 Wisconsin.
Winless since Dec. 28, 2015, head coach Eddie Jordan stood behind his team’s progress when asked about fan frustration after Thursday’s practice.
“If that’s the way they feel, I’m sorry they feel that way,” Jordan said. “They just have to be more educated in what the real deal is. They understand what this conference is about and what type of players and teams we’re going against and the situation we’re in with injuries and being a young team. If they don’t understand that, then I don’t need to read what their reaction is.”
Rutgers (6-18, 0-11) is one of two winless Big Ten teams alongside Minnesota. The Scarlet Knights are without three top post players in junior DeShawn Freeman (knee), sophomore Shaquille Doorson (foot) and red-shirt freshman Ibrahima Diallo (foot).
“If people don’t see [guard] Mike Williams playing power forward, then I don’t give a crap what they think,” Jordan said. “If they don’t see that dimension on the floor, what we have to play with, look at [6-foot-6 freshman] Jonathan Laurent as a backup five man in this conference, I don’t care what they think. They’re not knowledgeable of what’s going on.”
Jordan is in his third season with Rutgers and received his undergraduate degree last spring. He is 28-61 after he inherited a program at rock bottom in 2013.
“There’s always patience in June, July and August,” Jordan said. “People say yeah, it’s a process. It’s going to take four or five years. But in December and January when people say ‘what the heck is going on,’ they forget about what we said in June, July and August when I took over the program. We’ve got a fantastic player in Corey. We’ve got good, young big men that aren’t playing. We’ve got one of the top junior college players in the country to play here, and now he’s out. If they don’t see that type of progress, then I’m sorry they don’t see the reality of the situation.”
Jordan’s players, including star freshman point guard Corey Sanders, speak highly of him as a leader. Sanders committed and signed to Jordan in the fall of 2014 and is a Big Ten Freshman of the Year candidate with a team-high 15.9 points and 1.7 steals per game.
“Coach [Jordan] has nothing to do with why our record is like it is and Coach [Jordan] is the reason that I’m here,” Sanders said. “… Just stick with us. We’re young right now. We’ve got people hurt. Coach is doing his best. We’re out here trying to do our best. Everything is going to come gradually. It’s not going to come overnight, like I always say. We’re working hard. We’re getting better. That’s all that matters.”