Coach Gary Waters had his Rutgers team playing hard all season, and it got the Scarlet Knights past the opening round of the National Invitation Tournament. But that's where the story ended for Rutgers, and that completed the five-year Waters era at the school.
Whoever takes his place walks into a pretty good situation -- assuming Quincy Douby is true to his word and returns for his senior season.
The only senior on the Rutgers squad is Jimmie Inglis, though another couple of players may choose to transfer. Freshman Anthony Farmer and JR Inman had strong seasons, and junior Marquis Webb was his usual steady self. Bulky forward Adrien Hill is expected to be back from yet another surgery to join Byron Joynes in the middle.
But Douby is the key. He's the man who took this team to the postseason this year, and if it's going to take that next step and reach the NCAAs next year, he'll have to take a similar leap.
It was a strange season for the Scarlet Knights. The team had its typical up-and-down season in Big East play but struggled more at home than the program is used to. The RAC is one of the toughest places to play in the Big East, but Charlotte, Villanova, Pittsburgh, Providence and St. John's all came into the arena and won.
On the other hand, the Scarlet Knights won at Seton Hall, St. John's and DePaul, then went on the road to knock off Penn State in their NIT opener. Their run ended against St. Joseph's, and the 71-62 loss ended the season, as well as Waters' stint in New Jersey.
Notes and Quotes
-Quincy Douby had a huge season for the Scarlet Knights, but nobody else ever seemed to find their rhythm on offense. He was the only player on the team to average double figures in scoring.
-Rutgers had more turnovers than assists for the season. JR Inman was one of the worst offenders, and the freshman will be looking to improve his ballhandling during the off-season.
THE RECORDS: 19-14, 7-9 (tied for ninth in Big East), lost in the Big East tournament quarterfinals and the second round of the NIT
HOW THE SEASON ENDED: Rutgers had an up-and-down season, but ironically seemed to play better once coach Gary Waters announced his resignation effective at the end of the season on March 1. The team closed with some big victories, and gained some momentum heading into next year.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I told the guys that I'm going to miss them, (that) I love them. I also talked to them about next year. This team can be in the NCAA, because they have the ability to do that." -- Outgoing Rutgers coach Gary Waters after his team's season-ending loss to St. Joseph's in the NIT.
THE GOOD NEWS: Quincy Douby said after the NIT loss that he'd come back for his senior season. If he actually does, that means just about everyone on the roster is back next season in a league that sent eight teams to the NCAA tournament this time around. Some may transfer for more playing time, but the core of the team should return.
THE BAD NEWS: Fred Hill Jr., taking over for Gary Waters as coach, is going to have to be more than a recruiter, which is where he's made his reputation. Douby averaged 25.4 points per game, but nobody else on the squad was in double figures. It's unrealistic to expect that an offense depending on a single player as much as Rutgers does on Douby is going to have an easy time in a league that's as good defensively as the Big East.
KEY RETURNEES: Douby is obviously the key, but freshmen Anthony Farmer and JR Inman will also be key factors in the team's quest for the NCAA tournament next season. Marquis Webb is also back for his senior season, and will likely be counted on for more than the 9.5 points per game he averaged this season.
--Guard Quincy Douby had a season to remember, setting a school record for points in a season in the team's final game, against St. Joseph's in the NIT. His 30 points against the Hawks left him with 839 points on the season, topping Bob Lloyd's old mark of 809. He averaged 25.4 points per game on the year, the third-best average in Rutgers history.
--Forward JR Inman missed nine games after fracturing his fibula against Seton Hall on Feb. 5, but returned for the team's two NIT games. His ability to quickly adjust to the Big East in his freshman season was a key to the team's success early in conference play.
--Guard Anthony Farmer gave the team the presence at the point that the team has lacked over the past few seasons. He had the most assists of any freshman in the Big East on his way to making the Big East all-rookie team.
--Forward Adrian Hill has been plagued by injuries throughout his career, and missed the last half of the season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in early February. He is expected to return to the team next season.