Rutgers basketball has nothing to lose Wednesday as the bottom seed in the Big Ten tournament, and coach Eddie Jordan hopes that makes the Scarlet Knights dangerous people.
Rutgers snapped its 17-game losing streak Saturday against a depleted Minnesota. The mindset against Nebraska Wednesday night is the same.
“There’s no sympathy in this league,” Jordan said Monday on the Big Ten conference call. “We needed a win and we’re happy about going in to play against Nebraska.”
The victory does not change preparation, Jordan said, because the focus was always on business and not the big-picture struggles.
“We needed a win to give us some momentum going into the tournament,” he said. “I was happy for our seniors … they’re all graduating and Jalen Hyde is a walk-on who’s going to be dean’s list. I’m happy for our kids, our seniors and I’m happy that we got a win.”
Red-shirt freshman Ibrahima Diallo (foot) is nowhere near 100 percent after he returned early from surgery but provides needed big-man depth.
“He’s not nearly 100 percent in game conditioning,” Jordan said. “He’s not 100 percent in rhythm with the chemistry that we’ve developed. He’s going to have some moments where he’s not in sync. He’s going to feel uncomfortable but his work ethic is good. He runs well. He gives us some size at the rim that we haven’t had all year long.”
Sophomore Mike Williams welcomes a return to guard after he spent most of the Big Ten season playing at forward. Undersized as a shooting guard at 6-foot-2, Williams played well in a more guard-focused role against Minnesota.
Williams finished with a personal-best 29 points, and represents the most dangerous counterpart to Corey Sanders at guard.
“All of those hours in the gym, all of those could-have-been wins that we didn’t get, we played a complete game [against Minnesota] and that’s what our camaraderie and energy comes from in practice,” Williams said on momentum.