Ask Steve Pikiell about last year's massive losing streak. Go ahead and ask the first-year Rutgers coach about the need for facility upgrades or a rock-bottom projection for his team this season.
Pikiell isn't afraid of the criticisms, because he sees 10 times as many positives at his new position.
“Every place, you have different obstacles. Embrace them. Try to change some of them that you can change. Get your guys to play hard. Represent the school the right way. We've got a lot of great things to sell. We have great people, a great institution. Play in the best league in the country. So whenever you hit me with one of those, I'll hit you with 10 reasons why you should think about Rutgers.”
At the end of every hard-earned day, people find some reason to believe. Pikiell wants to bring that to Rutgers, after he installed similar successes at Stony Brook and his other stops.
“At Stony Brook we won three championships at the smallest gym in America,” Pikiell said. “… There's always different challenges. You embrace them. You can't solve all of them in one day. I've heard those criticisms in the past. I like the RAC a ton. I played in it. I've watched games in it. I think it's an exciting place to be. We have great fan support. New Jersey is a great state. It's got great basketball people.
“I'll tell you all of the positive things. People tell you the negatives, there's negatives at every place that I've coached. I was at Yale University, one of the great universities in the country. I was at Uconn, one of the best basketball programs in the country.”
Pikiell is not afraid of a rebuild, but Rutgers brings the idea to a new level after a quarter-century drought in the NCAA tournament.
“The build process is exciting to me,” he said. “I've been there. I was at Uconn when we were last in the Big East, as a player. My fourth year there, we won a Big East championship. I've been through these builds at a lot of places. … If everyone pitches in, great things can happen down the other end.”