RU Fights Back Against Princeton

Rutgers won a game it needed to win on Saturday afternoon, defeating intra-state nemesis Princeton, 54-50, in front of 4527 fans at the RAC, the biggest crowd this year. RU was down at the half, but came back strong in the 2nd to pull out the hard-fought victory over the Tigers and new coach Sydney Johnson. JR Inman led the RU with 16 points in a game where nearly everyone contributed.

"We executed our game plan a lot better", said head coach Fred Hill, when asked what the difference was between this game and Rutgers last two. "I thought we were able to execute our game plan better in the second half", he said. Indeed, in the first half Princeton hit 6 out of 10 three pointers, which fueled the Tigers to a 35-30 lead after one.

"We made mistakes because of a lack of discipline by some of the freshman that have never seen their style of play before, continued Hill. But RU was able to adjust in the second half, holding Princeton to just 3 of 12 from beyond the arc. "Our goal was to not give up three point shots", Hill said. He added that, "Overall, I was very pleased. We didn't break down defensively in the second half".

Inman also tied for the team lead in rebounds, along with Hamady Ndiaye, by pulling down 8. Hill praised Inman for smart play and described his play in this game as that of a point forward's, saying that "he's not just making shots, he's making plays". Ndiaye meanwhile played a career-high 32 minutes, and picked up only one foul along the way. His minutes were especially needed on this afternoon, as Byron Joynes was limited to just four minutes of action due to an eye injury. Said Hill of Hamady, who also scored 5 points and blocked 3 shots: "He did a heckuva job".

The injury sustained by Joynes is just the latest in a string that has hit Rutgers of late, and Hill acknowledged the difficulties it has caused so far in this young season. "I can't even have a full practice, I can't even run a scout team", he said. However, one pleasant contrast to the trend was the first appearance this year of freshman Justin Sofman, who had been sidelined with a broken jaw. Hill thought he performed commendably, considering, as he asked, that "he's had what, 10, 12, 14 days of practice?" He took two shots and hit one for the first points of his RU career, a three pointer, and played thirteen minutes.

Another player returning to action was Earl Pettis, although he was not sidelined by injuries. Pettis played 9 minutes, and received high praise from the head coach. Hill, "made some big time plays", adding that "he's got great energy". Another player with extremely noticeable energy is Corey Chandler, and that was never more evident than in a clutch play he made late in the game. Chandler went to the line to shoot two free throws with 25 seconds left and RU leading by just two, 50-48. He missed both, but corralled his own rebound and was fouled again. This time he made both (He also led RU in assists with three).

RU's final two points would also come on two more clutch free throws, this time by Anthony Farmer. Farmer was also the player that forced the turnover that led to Corey Chandler being at the line in the previously described play. However, in spite of Farmer coming up clutch at the end, that's still not stopping Mike Coburn from seeing steady minutes. In twenty solid minutes of action, Coburn scored five points, handed out one assist, had one steal, and committed no turnovers. Farmer, by the way, played 25 minutes with just one turnover, three points, three rebounds, two assists and a steal.

The only other player to score in double figures for RU was Jaron Griffin, and although he shot 5-11, compared to his previous woes, in this game he seemed almost on fire. Griffin logged 32 minutes (tied with Hamady for second behind JR's 35), and was aggressive and active. He attacked the basket a bit more on offense, and was active on the boards as well, snaring 5 rebounds. As previously noted, Byron Joynes was limited to just 4 minutes and did not score, and Courtney Nelson was still sidelined and did not play (although his arm was out of the sling).

The most salient aspect of this game was the effort and preparedness of RU. Hill said he was happy with both. He said that he was "as equally disappointed with the Dartmouth game even though we won, as with the St Peter's game, even though we lost". Hill continued: "I don't measure our success as we're building by the score. I measure by how we play. Are we doing the things we need to do to get better?"

"Sometimes I have to say a lot to this team before a game, and sometimes I don't have to say very much. This time I didn't have to say very much. I could tell they were ready, I could tell they were focused. Whether we're going to make our shots or not we'll see, but I could tell they were prepared to play".

Rutgers improves to 5-2 on the young season, and will next be in action against Lafayette Wednesday, Dec. 5, at the RAC. The game will be televised live on SNY.

Scarlet Report Top Stories