Last Saturday Rutgers hosted their annual Junior Day, where about 70 of the top New Jersey prospects were joined by a couple of prime-time blue chippers from the Keystone Stone, and were given the opportunity to see Rutgers first-hand. For many of the prospects on hand it was their first time at Rutgers.
Part of the Junior Day festivities included an appearance at the RAC, where the RU men hosted the Georgetown Hoyas. Another sellout crowd at what once served as the Big East's premier home court left disappointed as the Hoyas defeated the Scarlet Knights for the second time in as many tries this season. Among the few bright spots on the team was the continued improvement of Ollie Bailey and Byron Joynes, whose 7 rebounds against the Hoyas increased his season average to 6.3.
Essentially unnoticed was Rutgers Senior Guard Ricky Shield's move into RU's Top 10 Scoring list, eclipsing Kelvin Troy and Abdel Anderson, for a career scoring output of 1,462 points.
Super Bowl Sunday arrived and while all the glitz and glamour was reserved for the gridiron, 6,546 folks did fill up the RAC for the 3rd highest attendance at an RU women's basketball game this year. Rutgers used their 7th different starting lineup this year and needed a late run to pull away from the pesky Syracuse Orange. Coach C. Vivian Stringer's 300th game on the Banks, to go with her 191st victory, wasn't exactly one for the history books. The win was the 16th on the year overall for RU, who seemed to have their eyes marked on the rematch with Uconn set for a week later.
Reactions from the RU's weekend Junior Day started to trickle in on Monday:
Keith McPherson (Ocean Township HS dual-threat QB):
"It [the weight room] was really nice. I've only seen high school weight rooms and their place was like three times the size of ours at my school and everything was brand new with a Rutgers logo on it."
Tom McEowen (Neshaminy HS, DL prospect):
"Everything was really nice, everything was brand new."
In what proved to be somewhat of an event-filled Monday, Rutgers fans also learned that New Rochelle's Geoffrey McDermott is not yet close to a decision regarding his collegiate status. A number of high-major basketball schools, including two from the Big East (aside from Providence's Friars), have come calling and made McDermott's decision that much more difficult. Basketball or football? It still remains to be seen.
Tuesday arrived, New Jersey's version of rivalry day, as Rutgers and Seton Hall were set to do battle, hardwood style. The 7,576 fans in attendance were barely few enough to notice attendance gaps, here and there - the students section no longer filled to the brim, one had to wonder whether apathy was finally setting in among the RU faithful. The game itself, though filled with intensity, hardly had the look of two of the NCAA's elite teams - the teams combined for 34 turnovers, contributing to the slop fest witnessed as the battle for New Jersey's basketball bragging rights. In the end, a controversial over-time foul call enabled Quincy Douby to hit the game winning free throw with no time left on the clock - quite a Doubyous conclusion, though for Rutgers fans, justice, for all that had gone wrong in previous games, was served.
The calm before the storm was what Wednesday served as for the RU Women's basketball team. Perhaps not mentally ready their previous time out versus Syracuse, the Scarlet Knights left no doubt this time as they routed Seton Hall 67-40. Leading by single digits at halftime, Rutgers put together a game-ending 24-6 run to put the Pirates away. The showdown on Sunday, February 13th against the 10th ranked Uconn Huskies, to be broadcast on ESPN2, awaits Rutgers. Tip-off is set for 5 PM.
Also on Wednesday Rutgers fans learned of yet another early football offer, this time to a RB/DB prospect out of McArthur HS in Florida, by the name of Kevin Holloway. Holloway, who attended the recent Nike Camp held in south Florida (last weekend), was timed at 4.4 in the 40.
Reactions from RU's weekend Junior Day continued to trickle in on Thursday:
Anthony Ferla (St. Joseph HS DB):
It [facilities] was nice - it was really nice. It was very impressive, very technologically advanced."
As the week concluded, Friday came and went without much fanfare, other than Alfred Peterson's day in court. And much to the surprise of Rutgers fans, so did a guilty plea. Peterson's sentencing is set for April 15.
Mike and the Big Dog's LLC