Biruta Explains Decision

Admist a coaching search and the prospect of rebuilding the men's basketball program, good news came recently that incoming freshman forward Gilvydas Biruta would no longer try to get out of his signed national letter of intent. Instead, Biruta will honor it and enroll at Rutgers in June, regardless of who to coach the Scarlet Knights. Biruta explains why he is staying at Rutgers.

Rutgers backup point guard Mike Coburn came up with perhaps his biggest assist of the 2010-11 season, and it is still more than six months to tip-off and the Scarlet Knights remain without a coach.

In citing reasons why he was no longer looking to be let out of his signed national letter of intent, 6-foot-8 incoming freshman Gilvydas Biruta pointed to a conversation he had with Coburn.

"He said it was a perfect spot for me,'' Biruta said. "He said I'll have playing time, it's a good academic school, they'll take care of you.''

Biruta's about-face didn't come solely on Coburn's advice, but it played a big part when he and former Seton Hall star Arturus Karnishovas, a fellow Lithuanian who is mentoring Biruta, met with Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti last week.

After asking to be release from his NLI earlier this month, Biruta spoke with a number of people, including his former coach at St. Benedict's and now coach at Wagner, Danny Hurley.

But one person he did not talk to was former Rutgers and St. Benedict's star Greg Echenique, who hosted Biruta during his official visit in November before transferring to Creighton in January.

Biruta explained why he initially asked out of his NLI.

"I was a little bit worried about who will be the next coach and I didn't really want Fred Hill to leave, but it happened,'' Biruta said. "I decided I signed with the school, not with the coach. I believe in the program that they will pick another great coach.''

A dense Lithuanian population in New Jersey and New York, which Biruta is in touch with, was also a factor, but he said the decision to remain at Rutgers was not simple.

"It's always tough to make the final decision,'' he said. "You have to think about it. Once you put all the positives and negatives down, I just picked Rutgers.''

Biruta added his decision was made before the 20-minute meeting with Pernetti, who offered Biruta very little insight as to what was going on with the coaching situation.

"He told me that they were getting a new coach, and that's it,'' Biruta said. "Of course, I'm excited. I am hoping it will be out this week.''

The retention of Biruta to the class was enormous considering Rutgers already lost leading scorer Mike Rosario to transfer and wing Patrick Jackson was also granted his transfer release. Biruta, a strong outside shooter and exceptional passer, is expected to switch between wing and power forward and be a substantial contributor as the Scarlet Knights try to rebuild their program.

But who is charged with rebuilding it remains to be seen.

So far Pernetti's search has been conducted in a secretive fashion with former Rutgers star and ex-NBA coach Eddie Jordan and former St. John's coach and current ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla being considered.

Also on Rutgers' wish list is Temple coach Fran Dunphy.


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