Coach Steve Pikiell Leads Rutgers to Personal Homecoming at Stony Brook

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell discusses the emotions of a return to Stony Brook in a big road battle for the Scarlet Knights.

Rutgers basketball coach Steve Pikiell on emotions of a Stony Brook homecoming...

You know what, it's a special place. If I speak on behalf of myself, 11 great years there, great community. They embraced our program. I never really got to say goodbye. The next thing you know, I'm the head coach at Rutgers. It's a program I'm proud of, certainly. There are a lot of great people. To get a chance to go back, I know I've been getting calls and texts and I have to let people know I don't handle tickets anymore at Stony Brook. I'm the opposing team. It's a tough environment too. They've lost eight games at home in five years. Their winning percentage at home is as high as anyone's in the country. I want to get our guys prepared for that. It will be packed. It's a tough place to play. The community is very involved and the team is used to winning. It's a real challenging road game for us and stuff. For me to go back to a place that was really good to me and my family, the student population was great and the band and all of the great things that happened there. I have some mixed emotions but when the ball gets thrown up, I know they're going to try to beat us and we've got to try to beat them.”

On if it is strange to go back...

I've been so locked into the games in front of me. I love it here in this great place and having put a lot of time into that. I'm know I'm going to see a lot of familiar faces again. I've gotten a million phone calls and texts. They follow us here. We have a lot of Rutgers fans now in Long Island. I'm proud of that fact. It's a program that myself and Jay [Young] and Dave VanDyke and Bryan Dougher put a lot of sweat equity into. We're glad that they continue to be good and that they're in good hands with a good coach there doing a great job. I'm looking forward to playing them.”

On preparing for a team he knows so well...

I think it's the same. I think they have some advantages too. They know me. I know their personnel. I recruited a lot of these guys. I respect them a ton. These kids have done nothing but win for four years, so they know how to win and that's the important part about building a program – having kids that just win. They're winners. Prep is always the same for me. Get our guys a good game plan. Get them focused on it, and really try to get our guys to hone in and do it like we did the other day against Central Connecticut. I thought we followed the game plan. We did exactly the five steps that we were supposed to do. We have to be locked in. They have a great point guard. Lucas Woodhouse, I think he's one of the best point guards in the country. That's always a problem when teams have great quarterbacks. They pose a lot of problems for us, but it will be fun to be back up until the tipoff. Then it won't be so much fun anymore.”

On an 8-1 start after seven wins last season...

I don't think a lot about last year, so I'm just on to the next game. There's not a lot of time, I think that's a lot of wasted time to think about those things. We're trying to get them to, and you guys don't want to hear this and I understand it, but we're trying to get them to go 1-0 and the road's not been good to us at Rutgers. We're going on the road now next game. That's how I go during the season. I'm very compartmentalized. One game at a time. We're not ready to think anything beyond that. When we are, then that will be a nice feeling that the program is able to think a few weeks in advance. We're not there yet. We've got a lot more work to do.”


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