MBB: Rutgers vs. Seton Hall

Both teams are red hot, and a collision course has been set, as these great in-state rivals meet in the RAC, Wednesday night January 30 at 9:00 pm.

Coaches Bobby Gonzalez and Fred Hill battled to an even 1-1 record against each other last season and Wednesday’s tie breaker could be a barn burner. Seton Hall (16-4, 4-3) will bring their talented team, which is currently sporting a four game winning streak, to lay it on the line against Rutgers (10-11, 2-6) who has just finished off convincing back to back victories against nationally ranked Big East opponents.

Seton Hall has an exciting team which has been built around and features senior swing man Brian Laing, senior guard Jamar Nutter, sophomore guard Eugene Harvey, and junior guard Paul Gause. Gause has missed seven games with a broken knuckle on his non shooting hand, but expects to make his return against the Scarlet Knights. Freshman guard Jeremy Hazell has filled in admirably during his absence and remains an integral part of the rotation. Center John Garcia is a dominant force in the middle, but has been hobbled lately with a sore left knee, which severely limits his mobility and playing time on the court. He has been relieved by big freshman Mike Davis who has done a fine job while adjusting to the rigors of Big East basketball. Guard Larry Davis and forward Augustine Okuson have made big contributions to the surprisingly fast start of the season. The Pirates who had a goal of reaching the Big East playoff has rightfully set their sights on a much higher goal of the NCAA tournament. They have a tendency to start games very slowly, but have had the ability to work their way back into the contests and lock up the all important victories. While Paul Gause sat and watched, The Hall had pretty much scrapped their man on defense to run a predominantly zone defense from which they’ve done quite well. With his return, they will employ the man defense more often, especially going to a full court press, as they believe Rutgers will struggle against the pressure, thus providing them with an edge.

Rutgers has been on fire during their last three outings. They are playing as a team as never before, and appear to all be on the same page. During this stretch the Knights have shot 55% on field goals, 53% from beyond the arc, but continue to struggle from the free throw line with a paltry 62.6%. Have they simply found their shots? Actually they have been moving the ball well, but most importantly are making quick decisions followed by sharp passes, which has led to higher percentage shots. They’ve made an incredible 42 of 67 three point attempts which have been conceded to them as a result of great inside scoring. Defense has been the key. Guards Anthony Farmer, Mike Coburn and Corey Chandler have played with a pride and passion which has been a disrupting force which takes the opposition out of their game plan. Hamady N’daiye has been outstanding in the paint, as has team captain Byron Joynes, with displays of great positioning, rebounding and shot blocking. JR Inman has been doing a great job with his long arms and effortless quickness to the ball by continually shutting down passing and dribbling lanes. Jaron Griffin has been flat out tough. He has been crashing the boards with authority and scoring well inside.

PIRATE STARTERS:

SW - #14 – Brian Laing (6’5” 215 sr) – 18.9ppg, 7.4 rbpg, 82.8% ft shooter, 32 steals – the main scoring threat

G - #15 – Eugene Harvey (6’0” 165 so) – 16 ppg, 72.7% ft shooter, 31 steals – another big scorer

G - #21 – Jeremy Hazell (6’5” 185 fr) – 12.1ppg, 37% 3pt, 73% ft – solid 3 pt threat – tried 135 attempts

G - #1 – Jamar Nutter (6’2” 205 sr) – 10.2ppg, 38.8% 3pt, 82.9% ft – consistent scorer, 3pt threat, team leader with Laing

C - #31 – John Garcia (6’9” 265 so) – 7.6ppg, 17 steals, 30 blocks – great position player, good playmaker, a bit gimpy

THE BENCH:

G - #22 – Paul Gause (5’11” 188 jr) – 8.6ppg, 71% ft shooter, 41 steals – cat quick, great defender, returns vs RU

G - #35 – Larry Davis (6’4” 185 so) – 7.1ppg, 76.9% ft shooter, has received extra minutes during Gause injury

C - #13 – Mike Davis (6’11” 255 fr) – 3.1ppg, 75% ft shooter, 26 blocks (that’s 56 total w/ Garcia), young and learning

F - #25 – Augustine Okosun (6’11” 240 jr) – 1.7ppg, more of a relief player for the bigs in the paint

Defense wins games. Rutgers holding Villanova scoreless over a 10 minute stretch coupled with a 20-2 run against Pittsburgh were the direct result of tremendous defense. The Knights will need to come up with something comparable against the Blue Scurvy. Rutgers must keep their fouls to a minimum as the entire Seton Hall team is incredibly good when given free shots. Great defensive play by the guards, and in the paint is of paramount importance if the Knights are to continue with their torrid run. I’m certain it will be a packed house like the days of old. Watch out for the dust coming from the top of the rafters, because it is going to be a great game and a great experience.

MEDIA:

Television: FSNY
Radio: WOR 710 AM, WCTC 1450 AM, WRSU 88.7 FM


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