Personnel Preview: 2006-07 RU Basketball

As the Scarlet Knights enter the 2006-07 season, two main themes dominate the preseason prognostications: the departure of dependable leading scorer Quincy Douby and the beginning of a new era in RU hoops, as long time assistant Fred Hill replaces Gary Waters as head coach. SOR staff writer Chris Lee shares his opinions on the upcoming hoops season.

Quincy Douby's departure leaves a 25.4 point per game void that will undoubtedly be hard to replace, and Fred Hill will try his best to switch things up and employ a different offensive approach. Expect the Scarlet Knights to run a more team-oriented offensive system, rather than running the offense through one guy, like they did last year. Senior Marquis Webb, who averaged a solid 9.5 points last year, and sophomore JR Inman should provide the bulk of the scoring attack this season. After learning the ropes last season as a freshman, point guard Anthony Farmer (8.3 ppg, 3.9 apg last season) will also be asked to step up his offensive output- a fact that he understands clearly.

"When it was time for a big play, everybody knew where it was going so it was like, ‘OK, let's give it to [Quincy]," Farmer explained. "Now everybody has to be on their toes, ready for each moment. We know we have to dig deep because we don't have that go-to guy."

Also expect Coach Hill to emphasize the importance of playing sound defense, in hopes of producing points off turnovers. "We're going to try and be a terrific defensive team and create some easy baskets off the defense and some easy baskets in transition," he said. And just like on offense, Webb will be the go-to player on defense, a role he is certainly very comfortable with as he has had to guard the best player on opposing teams throughout his collegiate career.

In addition to Webb, Inman and Farmer, Rutgers will need former Star-Ledger New Jersey Player of the Year Courtney Nelson, who sat out last season after transferring from Richmond, to step up. Nelson averaged about 6 points a game as a role player for Richmond as a true freshman, and will see time at both guard positions. A big concern, however, will be Nelson's health. After jamming his thumb in summer league play, Nelson also missed the recent Red-White scrimmage for unspecified personal reasons. Joining Nelson in the backcourt will be guard/forward Jaron Griffin (3.4 ppg, 1.9 rpg) who will also see more offensive opportunities and playing time, after averaging a passive 3.4 points and shooting an atrocious 32.2% percent from the field. A former 3-star recruit, ‘Griff' certainly has the potential to compete at the Big East level and a large part of the team's success will depend on his consistency. The last guard in the rotation will be serviceable walk-on senior Shayle Keating (1.0 ppg, 0.7 rpg).

In the frontcourt, there is a solid group of returning veterans, in addition to newcomer Hamady N'Diaye, the four-star recruit out of Stoneridge Prep in California. At this point, N'Diaye is extremely raw offensively but has great size and athleticism and will likely come off the bench. Assuming they are able to stay healthy, seniors Byron Joynes (3.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and Adrian Hill (3.5 ppg, 3.5 rgg) will join JR Inman as anchors the in the RU frontcourt. In addition, Chicago native Ollie Bailey (4.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg), who was named to the Big East All-Freshman teams two years ago, will need to rebound after a disappointing sophomore campaign. Sparingly-used power forward/center Frank Russell (2.2 ppg, 1.8 rpg) who showed flashes of potential last season with a 9 point, 5 rebound game against St. John's (on 4 for 4 shooting) will be in the rotation as well.

With the loss of Quincy Douby, and a new head coach in Fred Hill, expect there to be many changes to be made this season. Fred Hill and company knows it is going to take a complete team effort night-in and night-out in order for the Scarlet Knights to win, but as long as Webb, Farmer and Inman increase their production and are able to fill Douby's void, there is no reason why Rutgers can't be competitive in the Big East.

"We're going to see a lot of guys play a lot of different roles," Hill said. "In order to have success, we need everybody to step up. We're gonna do this as a team."

Follow the Leader
The team's returning scoring leader, defensive stopper and captain, senior Marquis Webb will assume the leadership role on this year's team with the departure of Quincy Douby. By all accounts, Webb and his teammates seem ready for him to take on that extra responsibility.

"Marquis is our leader," Fred Hill told members of the media during his Media Day press conference. "He's a young man that's very special. He's the guy you wish every young man could emulate. I'm not married, but if I had a daughter, he's the kind of guy I would want my daughter to date and marry."

Preseason Predictions
The Scarlet Knights were predicted to finish 14th in the preseason coaches' poll, just in front of Seton Hall (predicted to finish 15th) and last season's cellar dweller, South Florida. Regardless of the preseason picks, the bottom few spots in the league will be very close and competition to make the Big East tournament will be fierce. West Virginia, predicted to finish 12th lost the core of their team in Mike Gansey, Kevin Pittsnoggle, among others, to graduation while Cincinatti (predicted to finish 13th) lost several starters and will be running a different system under new head coach Mick Cronin.

Local media note the low expectation for the team as lack a respect for the Scarlet Knights, and expect Fred Hill and RU to use this to motivate his team. JR Inman put it best when he said, "A lot of people will look at this and say, ‘Why were you ranked so low?' I say this is just a reason for us to work harder. The good thing about being at the bottom - you can't go anywhere but up."

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