Rutgers Skid Extends to Historic 17 Straight in Sanders Return

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Corey Sanders brought excitement in his return from suspension but the final result was simply another blowout loss for Rutgers basketball. Coach Eddie Jordan's 17th straight loss marks the longest losing streak in modern program history.

Eddie Jordan Opening Statement

“We played a pretty good first half. I was proud of what we were doing in the first half. And then they came out with a barrage of three’s from Forbes. We tried to guard him many different ways and we just couldn’t get a handle on him. That was pretty much how they broke the game open. They knocked down three’s. Most of it, we guarded it as well as we could and some of it we had some defensive breakdowns and we didn’t guard it the way we should have.”

On the reputation of Michigan State and Rutgers’ performance

“I wasn’t even looking at what [Michigan State] was ranked, I knew they were good. We looked at the tapes of what they did recently and I looked at what they did against us at their place. We had some counters against some of their defensive switching that I thought we did well. We thought the three most important aspects of the game were transition defense, because they push the ball. They have great pace. Like out there, we did a pretty good job in that area. The second part is screening action for their scorers in Valentine and Forbes. We wanted to play them attached as much as we could and not give help off of them. But their screening action for Forbes was great and he knocked down shots. The third thing was rebounding. We all needed to rebound because we’re small. We didn’t do well in the second half with the screening action.”

On the importance of ending the regular season with a win against Minnesota

“Every night is important to us and every day in practice is important to us. Like last year, I don’t particularly look at a streak; I look at how we need to get better each day. I know the situation for Minnesota, it’s unfortunate for them, but we want our kids to be ready for our terrific game on Saturday.”

On the play of Ibrahima Diallo

“It was a heck of a comeback for him because he just got his thumb up on Friday. We put him in the game against Northwestern and his healing process was pretty fast. He’s probably not going to be 100 percent until April, but he wanted to play and he did some good things out there for being out so long. We’re proud of him and he had some good moments out there.”

On Greg Lewis

“He’s probably the best kid I’ve ever coached and the best player I’ve ever coached as far as being coachable and doing anything you ask of him without any complaints and any second guessing. He’s been a terrific guy for us.”

MSU Head Coach Tom Izzo Post-Game Quotes

 

Opening Statement …

“Well it’s a strange game when you look at it. But I’ll tell you what I give [Rutgers head coach] Eddie Jordan credit. The way those guys came out and played the first half, we did not play very well. He had his guys ready to play. I think it really spoke volumes on getting [Corey] Sanders back. I don’t know how many [points] he had in the first half, but it was a ton. They rebounded, they did some good things offensively that really gave us fits. I didn’t think either team was very good defensively, especially the Spartans. It was one of the worst defensive performances we’ve had in a while, so that’s what bothers me because we know in the NCAA Tournament and in the Big Ten Tournament you do not get to have bad halves and come back. We had an incredible performance from Bryn Forbes. The job he did, the shots he made, the execution was unbelievable. But if you’re going to have to rely on getting 11 threes there’s a reason that’s a record because it doesn’t happen very often.

 

“I just felt like that first half we didn’t defend, we didn’t rebound – at one time they were shooting 72 percent. I take my hat off to them, I blame us a little bit, and then the second half even though I had a guy with 15 rebounds in [Matt] Costello, a guy with 33 points, Denzel [Valentine] almost gets a triple-double, I thought the hero of the game in the second half was Eron Harris. He started guarding. He did a much, much better job on Sanders in the second half and I thought that got our running game going and then we started making threes. I hope we’re not a team that’s going to rely on threes and that’s going to win or lose us games. If we do we’ll be a short stay in the NCAA Tournament. Questions.”

 

On what Rutgers head coach Eddie Jordan needs to do to turn program around …

“Well from my vantage point he’s got to stay healthy. He’s had those bigs out. And then when you’re at this point and you’ve had all those injuries and then your confidence goes, and then you suspend a guy for four games. How valuable is that kid? I thought he was one of the best freshmen in the league. So I think they’ve got to do what we did, do what everybody did, you’ve got to upgrade your facilities. You’ve got to keep working on that. But he’s got to stay healthy. It’s a shame. I thought they would be a better team this year and then I think they lost three guys early. It’s hard to evaluate when you’re losing guys for the year or for a long period of time.

 

“They run some really good stuff. Offensively they’re hard to guard. He is I think a very good coach. I thought they got tired in the second half when we got out running game going, but I really think Eddie can turn this thing around. I just think he’s got to get a break and get healthy first and then add another player or two second that would really help them.”

 

On feeling early in the first half …

“I was just so disappointed. I was disappointed because we did not follow the gameplan and that’s something we’ve done a great job of. We did not [guard] Sanders, our bigs again, I’ll just say our bigs and you figure out who they are since no one likes me calling them out. Our bigs did not do the things they needed to do. They did not help, they got back-doored all night, and to me we just did not respect the opponent and the opponent kicked our butt. It was a good lesson to learn and hopefully we’ll grow from that. But that’s two first halves out of the last three that I think we struggled and I think some of the same people struggled and we’ve got to fix that.”

 

On whether the first half struggles are troubling …

“It’s troubling. It’s troubling, that’s why I acted like I did. Everybody thinks they know my team. And when I say that, we can be very solid. But we’ve got one guy batting balls on rebounds, we’ve got two guys that just didn’t do their job. When you have three good guards, and their guards are better than they’re inside guys, we needed some help in there. We said it, it was part of the game plan. But you get top this time of year and it’s hard to convince a team on a team that’s 0-16.

“But, it just proves that – and you asked about Eddie – he did a better job of getting his guys ready, because it’s harder to get a team ready that’s 0-16 too than I did getting mine ready. That’s why I think he’s going to get this thing turned. It’s hard to keep guys focused when you’re playing a game like this from our standpoint, but it’s hard to get guys up when you’re playing and you’re 0-16. I think it speaks volumes for him and his program.”

 

On Denzel Valentine’s performance …

“He struggled. Rarely he struggles, and I think he missed a couple shots and for the first time in a long time he let his offense dictate his defense. The poor kid is allowed to have one bad game I guess, and yet he ends up – and I didn’t play him [much] I only played him 29 minutes or whatever he played – but he ends up with eight rebounds, eight assists, 14 points, but I think everyone would agree he was not himself tonight. He’s practiced really well, had great practices. So I think we’ll figure out why but he’s the least of my worries.”

 

On Eddie Jordan …

“Hey, he’s going to get this thing going. It’s going to take a little luck too. You’ve got to be lucky. You can’t have injuries. In my second year [Mateen] Cleaves went down and we weren’t very good either. You can’t lose the number of bigs he lost. But you’ve got some young guys there that are going to be good players. A few upgrades, a few young players. A great guy and I think a very good coach. I think if they just improve in a couple of areas he’ll get it going. Tough year too to be in that position because they league is pretty good.”


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