Beatty getting the point

Junior college transfer James Beatty will make his third straight start Wednesday against No. 4 Villanova, and one thing coach Fred Hill is asking for is more dribble penetration from his new point guard. Beatty has the well-earned reputation of being a pure point guard, but Hill wants to see more aggressiveness attacking the basket against the Wildcats.

James Beatty likes to push the tempo, and it is easy to see he isn't looking for his shot.

That is what made the junior college transfer attractive to Rutgers coach Fred Hill, and is the primary reason he replaced combo guard Mike Coburn in the starting lineup a week ago.

However, the thinking now is Beatty needs to be a bit more selfish running the point. That was the message he received heading into Wednesday's matchup with No. 4 Villanova (8 p.m.) at the Rutgers Athletic Center.

"What (Beatty) gives you is he's a little quicker with the basketball, he gets the ball up the floor,'' Hill said. "He sees the floor as a passer first, and actually I love that, but I'm not getting enough aggressiveness to go score.''

So, Hill talked with Beatty, and stressed the need for the 6-foot-2, 195-pound junior to drive to the basket more and look for his own shot.

"With my dribble, instead of catching it and passing it, it's keeping my dribble alive and beating guys off the dribble and getting to the basket,'' Beatty said. "It's not something I can't do, or are not used to doing, but I have to do it more. It's me not being aggressive.''

The cross-section to gauge how well the move is working is certainly not large enough, but the early returns suggest how much emphasis Beatty puts on moving the basketball and not driving to the basket. In the two games, nine of his 10 shot attempts are from 3-point range.

In the start against Syracuse, he was 3 of 8 from the field, scored nine points and had five assists. He turned the ball over three times and had three steals in 31 minutes.

Against South Florida, though, he was ineffective running the offense. He was 0 for 2 from the field and didn't score, didn't record an assist, turned the ball over three times and had two steals in 28 minutes.

"It's kind of like a fine balance. Mike is just the other way,'' Hill said. "Mike is more of an aggressive scoring type of point guard, not the pass-first guy. But he's done a great job this year of, when people take away that scoring option, finding people for easy baskets.''

The style is conducive to more open shots along the wings, which should suit Jonathan Mitchell and Dane Miller, who often find themselves with open jumpers when Beatty does drive to the basket.

"He's definitely more of a pure point guard, and likes to push it and penetrate and kick,'' Mitchell said. "I definitely see a little bit of a change with (Beatty).''

Another key heading into the Villanova matchup is getting off to a better start, which was one of the topics discussed during a team meeting held by Hill following the loss at South Florida.

"We're always there physically,'' Beatty said. "But mentally, we have breakdowns in the beginning of games where we're not as focused as we are in the middle of the game. Then, it's like, Oh, (shoot). We need to turn it on. We need to turn it around from the beginning of the game.''

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