The tees displayed a picture of Dominic Cheek, the 6-foot-4 prospect, who has yet to declare. The student section also aimed "We want Dom" and "Stay in Jersey" chants towards Cheek in both halves.
Seeing the immense support probably helped to recruit the gifted shooting guard, for the 2009 class.
"The (4,752) fans were phenomenal; that's a result of the two guys sitting to my right (Hamady N'Diaye and Rosario) and the rest of the guys on the team," said head coach Fred Hill after his Scarlet Knights handled Robert Morris University 69-55. "The student section has been awesome. They came out against Marist and against today."
Mike Rosario continued to amaze viewers and remind loyal fans of the days of Quincy Douby. His game-high 27 marked the most points scored by a Rutgers freshman since Douby, currently with the NBA's Sacramento Kings, poured 35 on Iowa State in the 2004 NIT.
The young phenom admitted afterwards that he still gets excited before tipoff, but listens to Hill and the coaching staff.
"Sometimes, I have a lot of adrenaline running because I'm so hyped because I'm playing in college and I'm a Scarlet Knight," Rosario said. "When I'm out there I might take a fast shot and Coach Hill says, ‘take your time Mike,' because I'd be so anxious. But I just calmed down in the second half, listened to everything my coaches told me and I just took my time."
Rosario also thanked the veterans on the roster.
"It was great. I have all the older guys behind me and they guide me," he said. "They're like my brothers because I'm a freshman, and I'm an underclassmen and I want to learn from experienced players."
Having Rosario for low-scoring affairs like last night emphasized his importance.
The Colonials held several leads in the first half, as they prevented N'Diaye and Gregory Echenique from gaining an advantage in the low block. This pressured the Scarlet Knights to attempt shots from long distance, who struggled in the first half (11-31 FG, 2-12 3-PT).
"I thought defensively we were outstanding and even in the first and I think we just struggled to score…we were a little bit out of sync," Hill said. "In the first half, I think we settled for some quick shots, 2-12 from three, not the way we've been playing."
However, Rutgers overcame the shooting woes after halftime, as Rosario carried the offense, and N'Diaye sparked another strong defensive performance.
"In the second half, I thought our guards got extremely aggressive going to the basket, which loosened up their defense a little bit," Hill said. "And I think that gave Mike some great looks to run up the floor and he was able to knock down some shots."
While Rosario contributed 15 second-half points in a 12-minute span, N'Diaye added another eight rejections and 10 rebounds to his resume.
"It all started on the defensive end," Hill said. "A lot of it is Hamady with his block shots, but I thought it was our best defensive effort this season."
Rutgers allowed just 55 points on 19-55 shooting, only 34.5 percent from the field. The Scarlet Knights shot 44.2 percent, but used a strong effort at the free throw line (18-21 overall) to overcome zero field goals made in the final 5:52.
With the win, Rutgers improves to 3-0 on the season and hosts St. Bonaventure (2-1) Sunday afternoon in the Garden State Challenge finale.
For Rosario, as he mentioned after the season opener, it was about the atmosphere in the RAC.
"Just coming here tonight and this atmosphere is so great, I'm so thankful to be here, playing at Rutgers and staying at home," Rosario said.
Notes: Hill said forward Earl Pettis received stitches on his chin consequent of diving for a loose ball at 15:52 of the second half and "he's going to be OK"…N'Diaye also sported a bandage on his chin after the physical contest… Hill also said his team won't have to run extra sprints for one day of practice because they were successful on more than 80 percent of their free throws.
Rosaro Pours In 27 in Robert Morris Win
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