Overall, the Knights were a much-improved shooting team than they were in their opening game loss to Kansas St. Last night Rutgers connected on 31-of-60 from the field for 51%, a vast improvement from their 19% debacle against the Wildcats last Wednesday. Certainly much had to do with the quality (or lack thereof) of the opposition, but there can be no doubt that regardless of the opponent, the Knights played a much better brand of basketball last night.
"It's not easy to come out against teams that don't have a so-called (big) name, and to play people and do what we do", said head coach Fred Hill, "What we wanted to do is to defend and rebound and run, and play for a full 40 minutes, and I thought we did that tonight. I'm very pleased with the way we approached thing's, and how we went about getting a 'W' today ".
Rutgers broke open what was not that close of a game early in the second half. The Knights went into the half with a 15 point lead at 38-23, and then opened the second stanza by going on a 17-2 run to blow it wide open at 55-25 - and they never stopped playing hard. "I'm pleased with the overall effort", Hill said. "Even with the subs in we still played hard and never let up".
Overall, Rutgers held Aquinas to 27% shooting from the field, and out-rebounded the smaller Spartans, 43-27. Aside from Inman, there were many other individual bright spots for Rutgers last night: Jaron Griffin shot 5-for-7 from the field, including 2-of-3 from the 3-point stripe, to finish second in scoring with 13. Hamady N'diaye was a dominating presence defensively when he was out there, blocking four shots and collecting 6 rebounds in 15 minutes of play. He also ended his negative streak at the free-throw line, knocking down 5-of-8 from the stripe (along with 2-of-3 from the field) to finish with 9 points.
"Hamady gets better every day in practice", said Hill, "but the thing I'm most impressed with is that he went 5-of-8 from the free throw line, and the other day he was 0-for-5. It was the first game - a lot of nervous energy, and today he just relaxed and settled in and took his time. It doesn't matter who the opposition is, there's nobody defending you at the line". Hill went on to add: "He needs games, he needs minutes, and we're just gonna watch him unfold each and every day in practice, and I think it's going to be a lot of fun".
Overall, the same might be able to be said about this team: "We're gonna play the way we play, and do the things we do each and every day in practice, to get better", Hill said. "Today was about settling down and taking the next step. That's what we're going to do each time - take a step forward each time to the next game". Regardless of the competition, last night was huge step in that direction.