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Men's Basketball

Saturday’s loss to Virginia was symptomatic of the problems that have plagued Rutgers all season.
In an interview prior to the matchup with the Cavaliers, Rutgers coach Gary Waters lamented his team’s inability to convert at the free-throw line, as well as a lack of toughness on the boards.
But Saturday the Cavaliers, despite missing their leading rebounder and top player in center Travis Watson, outrebounded the Knights, 52-36, and hit 15-22 free throws to only 11-19 for the Knights.
For Rutgers, same issues adding up to same results

The Knights are paced by Jerome Coleman, a Preseason Second-Team All-BIG EAST selection. Coleman leads the team in scoring at 19.5 ppg. The 6-2 senior tallied a career-high 34 points against Fordham on Dec. 11. Herve Lamizana, a 6-10 junior forward, has blocked 29 shots this season and is averaging 3.6 blocks per game, which is second in the BIG EAST. Lamizana also leads the team in rebounding, averaging 5.9 per game. Sophomore 6-4 swingman Ricky Shields is second on the team in scoring (13.3 ppg.), while 6-2 junior point guard Mike Sherrod leads the team in assists (4.5), is tied for first in steals (2.1) with Coleman, and is second in rebounds (4.5) while chipping in with 5.5 ppg. Senior Kareem Wright, at 6-9 and a slimmed down 270 pounds, checks in at 4.5 ppg. and 3.5 rpg.

The pattern has become disturbingly familiar to Gary Waters. When Rutgers doesn't win -- which has happened three times this season following Saturday night's 61-57 home loss to Virginia -- it's almost always because of the same three reasons.
The Knights don't hit their free throws. They don't rebound. And they don't handle the late-game situation well.
Losses looking familiar

Overshadowed by former Scarlet Knight Todd Billet's 22 points in Saturday's 61-57 loss to Virginia, Rutgers forward Sean Axani played the game of his life.
The junior forward scored a career-high 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting. He added five rebounds, three blocks and three steals.
Rutgers opened the second half with a 24-10 run to erase a nine-point deficit and take a 48-44 lead. Axani scored the last seven points of the spurt, including an electrifying slam dunk that gave the Scarlet Knights their first lead.
Axani had breakout game in Rutgers' loss to Virginia

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Around the Big East

As Vince Wilfork walked into the Bible Church of God on Saturday morning, it was easy to see the big national championship ring on his hand. In the pews to his right, more of those rings caught the light on the hands of the two busloads of University of Miami football players and coaches who stood solemnly.
Miami's Wilfork plays through emotional pain

The Syracuse University football team continues to load up on its top recruiting priority - defensive backs.The latest player committed to signing a letter of intent with the Orangemen is safety Jeremy Sellers of Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy.
Sellers played running back and linebacker last season at Fork Union. Syracuse recruited Sellers to play safety, said Fork Union coach John Shuman.
Focus on secondary for SU

West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez signed a seven-year contract extension, after improving the Mountaineers from 3-8 in 2001 to 9-3 and a bowl berth this season.
Rodriguez, a West Virginia graduate in his second year as coach, will earn at least $700,000 next season. His salary will increase every year during the contract, which runs through 2009.
"I appreciate confidence in the direction of the football program,'' Rodriguez said Saturday. "West Virginia is my home. It's a great place to play, a great place to coach and a great place to raise a family. I look forward to coaching at WVU for many, many more years.''
Rodriguez rewarded for reviving West Virginia

Around the nation

Notre Dame coach Tyrone Willingham has a beef with how N.C. State, the Irish's opponent in the Gator Bowl, substitutes players. At times after the Wolfpack break their huddle, three or four players rush off the field and are replaced. It's an attempt to create a personnel mismatch in hopes of striking a big play.
It's perfectly within the rules -- it wouldn't be if more than 11 players were in the huddle and then some dashed off -- but Willingham thinks it isn't good sportsmanship. . . .
Irish have issues with N.C. State's substitutions

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