THIS, THAT AND THE OTHER
It was the Friday after Thanksgiving of 2001 just six months after the start of the Gary Waters regime at Rutgers. Big Dog and I were in the RAC discussing the direction of the program with Gary. As we spoke with Coach I realized that the expectations for the first few years were modest at best.
Coach spoke about bringing in a class of recruits that could be a foundation for the new program. He indicated that the class would come on campus during the summer of 2003 and he compared this class of recruits to his foundation class at Kent State.
I think that last year was sort of an aberration. I can't believe that the Coach expected the run that Rutgers had. It seemed that every bounce at home went Rutgers way and with another break here or there, that team could have made the tournament.
Well, this year's team was different right from the start. Last year there were no major controversies or injuries except for the NCAA sanction against Herve. There were fewer distractions for the team. This team has had distraction upon distraction.
It started with Mike Sherrod and the incident at the football game. I don't think that Mike has ever reached a comfort level this year. Then it was the illness to Jerome Coleman. Was is a virus or a carry over from Australia or was it school or athletic pressure? This seems to have had a lingering effect that has progressed throughout the season. Jerome just has not had the same on the court impact.
Next there was the practice incident between Harry Good and Adrian Hill. Both players were suspended and Harry eventually left. Adrian stayed but had an injury that sets him back several weeks in his development. His loss for the late December and early January schedule led to some rotation changes and changes in the style of play.
There was the departure of Cortez Davis for reasons that were unspecified. Were they off the court or on the court issues? No matter what the issue was, his departure meant one less option off the bench and the loss of a high profile recruit.
Sometimes things just don't turn out the way you plan them. So, what do you do?
You work a bit harder and recruit a bit more.
From all indication the three early recruits are welcome additions to the team and fill voids. Shagari adds an immediate inside presence; Quincy can create his own shots and score; Marquis can score and defend and adds an intangible, he's the kid you want taking the last second shot to win the game for you.
What Rutgers now needs to do is go out and fill the last two scholarships with the best available players. There is a definite need for another insider that can give you immediate minutes, someone that can play the four and the five. As I see it, the fifth scholarship, if given, will most likely go to a combination forward or a point guard.
The needs are obvious and when met, they will insure a strong foundation for the future of the program.
You must crawl before you stand and stand before you walk and walk before you run. The problem here is that you walked before you crawled and you just fell over.
Mike and The Big Dog LLC