Big Ten Coaches See Major Improvement at Rutgers

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- From Michigan State's Tom Izzo to Steve Pikiell himself, read about the clear on-court improvements for Rutgers basketball.

The dean of Big Ten basketball – Hall of Fame head coach Tom Izzo – offered an unprovoked and unique take on the state of the program in Piscataway. During a long media session Monday, Izzo candidly broke down what impresses him about Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell.

Rutgers showed Michigan State an early fight on the road before a blowout loss, and followed it up with a blown opportunity at Iowa. What does Izzo see?

Rutgers won't be winless for long.

“We have great coaches in the league right now and I think they kept upgrading the coaches in this league,” Izzo said. “The guy at Rutgers? He has done a hell of a job there. He is getting guys to do things that didn’t do it that way at all last year. There are so many less bad shots and things that are going on. I think they are getting better every day. He is a proven, good coach and he is going to be a good coach in this league. They are not young but they have a lot of sophomores and juniors and by next year that will be a very good basketball team and this year I promise you they are going to beat some decent teams. That’s a pretty good basketball team.”

In a neck-and-neck race at Iowa, the Scarlet Knights held the Hawkeyes to their lowest hoe point total of the year.

“I think you have to give more respect to our opponent and the job that coach Pikiell is doing with that program,” said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery. “They're a different team defensively and they're a different team offensively. 19 offensive rebounds, they out-rebounded us, they turned us 18 times. You got to credit those kids from Rutgers for that. They're long. And they're athletic and he can go small, he can play Williams, Johnson, and Sanders, or he can go big and play Thiam at the small forward, he's 6-foot-9. And then they bring in seven footers, two of them, and then a 6'-11" guy off the bench and he's rotating those guys, so he's got fresh bodies flying at the glass. It's a tough team to rebound against."

Penn State coach Patrick Chambers, the head of one of the hottest teams in the league after a win over Michigan State, felt the same challenges and improvements against the Scarlet Knights in the conference opener.

“I think Rutgers and what Steve is doing, wow,” Chambers said. “They guard, they’re tough, they’re physical. All the film that I watched I told my guys how physical they were going to be.”

As a head coach, Pikiell is appreciative.

After a successful build at Stony Brook, Pikiell trusts his own evaluations and sees the same steps.

“They're great coaches, all of them,” Pikiell said. “They're really good programs. I know what I see. I watch every tape. I watch it too many times, probably. I know how much we've improved. I know from practice to practice. Today we have 16 players here. Last year at this time we had eight players in our practice at this time. The program has improved in so many ways. We just came out of our semester break with our best GPA in a long time. It's improved in a lot of areas. I appreciate those coaches saying it.”

Rutgers blew a second-half lead against Iowa, and gets its next chance to end a Big Ten skid Thursday night at home against Northwestern.

“I know we play hard,” Pikiell said. “I watched us play. I think we do a really good job of our prep for games. We'll keep getting payback. We've got to stay the course. We've got to keep improving. We're in different situations now. It's the first time we were in a game at the end. We've got to learn from that and watch film from it. We're going to be in that situation again. Last year when you're down 20, you don't have to make a big play at the end of a game. Now we're in a little different place and hopefully we an stay in that place and we have chances to win down the stretch.”

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Scarlet Report Top Stories

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The dean of Big Ten basketball – Hall of Fame head coach Tom Izzo – offered an unprovoked and unique take on the state of the program in Piscataway. During a long media session Monday, Izzo candidly broke down what impresses him about Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell.

\n

Rutgers showed Michigan State an early fight on the road before a blowout loss, and followed it up with a blown opportunity at Iowa. What does Izzo see?

\n

Rutgers won't be winless for long.

\n

“We have great coaches in the league right now and I think they kept upgrading the coaches in this league,” Izzo said. “The guy at Rutgers? He has done a hell of a job there. He is getting guys to do things that didn’t do it that way at all last year. There are so many less bad shots and things that are going on. I think they are getting better every day. He is a proven, good coach and he is going to be a good coach in this league. They are not young but they have a lot of sophomores and juniors and by next year that will be a very good basketball team and this year I promise you they are going to beat some decent teams. That’s a pretty good basketball team.”

\n

In a neck-and-neck race at Iowa, the Scarlet Knights held the Hawkeyes to their lowest hoe point total of the year.

\n

“I think you have to give more respect to our opponent and the job that coach Pikiell is doing with that program,” said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery. “They're a different team defensively and they're a different team offensively. 19 offensive rebounds, they out-rebounded us, they turned us 18 times. You got to credit those kids from Rutgers for that. They're long. And they're athletic and he can go small, he can play Williams, Johnson, and Sanders, or he can go big and play Thiam at the small forward, he's 6-foot-9. And then they bring in seven footers, two of them, and then a 6'-11\" guy off the bench and he's rotating those guys, so he's got fresh bodies flying at the glass. It's a tough team to rebound against.\"

\n

Penn State coach Patrick Chambers, the head of one of the hottest teams in the league after a win over Michigan State, felt the same challenges and improvements against the Scarlet Knights in the conference opener.

\n

“I think Rutgers and what Steve is doing, wow,” Chambers said. “They guard, they’re tough, they’re physical. All the film that I watched I told my guys how physical they were going to be.”

\n

As a head coach, Pikiell is appreciative.

\n

After a successful build at Stony Brook, Pikiell trusts his own evaluations and sees the same steps.

\n

“They're great coaches, all of them,” Pikiell said. “They're really good programs. I know what I see. I watch every tape. I watch it too many times, probably. I know how much we've improved. I know from practice to practice. Today we have 16 players here. Last year at this time we had eight players in our practice at this time. The program has improved in so many ways. We just came out of our semester break with our best GPA in a long time. It's improved in a lot of areas. I appreciate those coaches saying it.”

\n

Rutgers blew a second-half lead against Iowa, and gets its next chance to end a Big Ten skid Thursday night at home against Northwestern.

\n

“I know we play hard,” Pikiell said. “I watched us play. I think we do a really good job of our prep for games. We'll keep getting payback. We've got to stay the course. We've got to keep improving. We're in different situations now. It's the first time we were in a game at the end. We've got to learn from that and watch film from it. We're going to be in that situation again. Last year when you're down 20, you don't have to make a big play at the end of a game. Now we're in a little different place and hopefully we an stay in that place and we have chances to win down the stretch.”

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The dean of Big Ten basketball – Hall of Fame head coach Tom Izzo – offered an unprovoked and unique take on the state of the program in Piscataway. During a long media session Monday, Izzo candidly broke down what impresses him about Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell.

Rutgers showed Michigan State an early fight on the road before a blowout loss, and followed it up with a blown opportunity at Iowa. What does Izzo see?

Rutgers won't be winless for long.

“We have great coaches in the league right now and I think they kept upgrading the coaches in this league,” Izzo said. “The guy at Rutgers? He has done a hell of a job there. He is getting guys to do things that didn’t do it that way at all last year. There are so many less bad shots and things that are going on. I think they are getting better every day. He is a proven, good coach and he is going to be a good coach in this league. They are not young but they have a lot of sophomores and juniors and by next year that will be a very good basketball team and this year I promise you they are going to beat some decent teams. That’s a pretty good basketball team.”

In a neck-and-neck race at Iowa, the Scarlet Knights held the Hawkeyes to their lowest hoe point total of the year.

“I think you have to give more respect to our opponent and the job that coach Pikiell is doing with that program,” said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery. “They're a different team defensively and they're a different team offensively. 19 offensive rebounds, they out-rebounded us, they turned us 18 times. You got to credit those kids from Rutgers for that. They're long. And they're athletic and he can go small, he can play Williams, Johnson, and Sanders, or he can go big and play Thiam at the small forward, he's 6-foot-9. And then they bring in seven footers, two of them, and then a 6'-11\" guy off the bench and he's rotating those guys, so he's got fresh bodies flying at the glass. It's a tough team to rebound against.\"

Penn State coach Patrick Chambers, the head of one of the hottest teams in the league after a win over Michigan State, felt the same challenges and improvements against the Scarlet Knights in the conference opener.

“I think Rutgers and what Steve is doing, wow,” Chambers said. “They guard, they’re tough, they’re physical. All the film that I watched I told my guys how physical they were going to be.”

As a head coach, Pikiell is appreciative.

After a successful build at Stony Brook, Pikiell trusts his own evaluations and sees the same steps.

“They're great coaches, all of them,” Pikiell said. “They're really good programs. I know what I see. I watch every tape. I watch it too many times, probably. I know how much we've improved. I know from practice to practice. Today we have 16 players here. Last year at this time we had eight players in our practice at this time. The program has improved in so many ways. We just came out of our semester break with our best GPA in a long time. It's improved in a lot of areas. I appreciate those coaches saying it.”

Rutgers blew a second-half lead against Iowa, and gets its next chance to end a Big Ten skid Thursday night at home against Northwestern.

“I know we play hard,” Pikiell said. “I watched us play. I think we do a really good job of our prep for games. We'll keep getting payback. We've got to stay the course. We've got to keep improving. We're in different situations now. It's the first time we were in a game at the end. We've got to learn from that and watch film from it. We're going to be in that situation again. Last year when you're down 20, you don't have to make a big play at the end of a game. Now we're in a little different place and hopefully we an stay in that place and we have chances to win down the stretch.”

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