The Headline – November records are not to be trusted. Rutgers and Miami are perfect case studies.
As unproven as Rutgers sits at 6-0, two-loss Miami mirrors the misleading record trend as a dangerous team in the eyes of Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell.
“I'm big on the film,” Pikiell said. “I hope our players aren't big on records because I don't think it means anything. Watch basketball on a nightly basis, you see some real good teams with not great records and then you see some other teams that aren't as good as their record indicates they may be at this time of the year. This is a really good basketball team. I don't know how you shake it. They have veteran guys that can play. They have NBA potential. They've played a tough schedule too.”
Regardless of the quality of opponents, the best start to a season in 40 years deserves recognition for Pikiell's players.
“Let's give these guys a tip [of the hat],” Pikiell said. “They've figured out a way to win when we haven't won a lot. Every game poses a different problem. We were down a lot in the last game. We fought back. We made some big, huge plays offensively. But we made some huge plays defensively too, so we figured out ways to win games and that's a good thing for us moving forward.”
Rutgers came from behind for wins over North Texas and Hartford. Experience with a deficit becomes key on a road trip to Miami as underdogs.
“We've got one win on the road against DePaul and I think this is an even bigger matchup,” said captain DeShawn Freeman “We'll just have to play.”
Worth Noting – After a plague of injuries hit Rutgers last year, the roster heads into the end of month No. 1 with a clean bill of health.
“I haven't heard anything, they all were practicing yesterday, so knock on wood,” Pikiell said. “That's a big, important key. It's something we talk about all the time.”
Keeping players healthy was David VanDyke's top priority when he took over the strength and conditioning program.
Quote of the Day – “You've got to play hungry, and every game is a different challenge. No one cares about the last game, they care about this game.” – Pikiell.