Forget the scorching hot seat for Eddie Jordan or the worst losing streak in Rutgers basketball history. For one afternoon, Rutgers got its smile back.
Greg Lewis got the moment he deserved after he gave his body to Rutgers. Senior Bishop Daniels dazzled the 4,473 in attendance with a broken-ankle drive to the hoop. Graduate transfer Omari Grier hit multiple big shots in his RAC farewell and walk-on Jalen Hyde from Somerset (N.J.) Franklin High got an ovation of his own in four minutes.
And for the first time in 78 days, Rutgers went home happy thanks to a 75-52 blowout win over Minnesota.
“One is definitely better than a doughnut– that’s tough,” Daniels said after 12 points and seven assists in his final home game. “Knowing that we came through it, we stuck it out, a lot of teams would have fallen apart. We were supposed to and we didn’t. I think is going to help us out with confidence.”
The victory over Minnesota snaps the 17-game losing streak for Jordan, and prevents the Scarlet Knights from the embarrassment of a winless Big Ten season.
One win is not significant in the upcoming decision that athletic director Pat Hobbs must make, but it means everything to a roster of players that did not quit in the face of turmoil.
“We practice hard every day and our kids they listen and do everything we ask of them so we have momentum every day,” Jordan said. “We don’t have bad days and we are not slouching, we are not discouraged. We have great character kids and that is part of what I was put in this position to do --- to bring integrity back to the program, to pick kids who graduate.”
Rutgers (7-24, 1-17) was, for once, the team in a less tumultuous state. The near-full strength Scarlet Knights clobbered a depleted Minnesota team.
Richard Pitino’s Golden Gophers were down to eight bodies and five scholarship players after last week’s suspensions. The result was a non-competitive finish to the season.
“I feel great, I feel very good,” said Mike Williams after a career-high 29 points. “I feel like breakdancing right now but my nose hurts so I can’t.”