Rutgers 2014-15 Record: 10-22, 2-16 in the Big Ten
Key Players Lost: Myles Mack, Kadeem Jack, Junior Etou, Kerwin Okoro, and Malick Kone
Key Players Coming Back: Bishop Daniels, Greg Lewis, Mike Williams, Dwayne ‘D.J.’ Foreman, Ibrahima Diallo and Sahquille Doorson.
New Recruits/Transfers: Corey Sanders, Deshawn Freeman (junior college transfer), Justin Goode, Jonathan Laurent and Omari Grier (transfer from Bradley).
Rutgers first foray into the Big Ten last season proved to a rude awakening, as they stumbled to just a 2-16 record in the conference (10-22 overall). Eddie Jordan’s club was overwhelmed by the competition that they did not see while playing in the AAC in the 2013-14 season.
Then again, some of the members of the Scarlet Knights had it rough when they played in the old Big East when it had Syracuse, Louisville and Villanova as members. So, some knew what to expect. Either way you look at it, though, Rutgers was out-manned in almost every game they played in last season.
The Scarlet Knights had a very mediocre non-conference showing, as they went 8-5. They had a solid win at Clemson in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and beat NCAA-bound Manhattan as well, but otherwise Rutgers had a meager showing in the non-conference portion of their schedule with bad losses to St. Peter’s and St. Francis (PA).
Then it was on to Big Ten play for Rutgers. Oddly enough, Rutgers started off fine with a 2-2 start through their first four conference games.
It was that fourth game on January 11 that will stand out for many reasons.
That night Rutgers took on the No.4 team in the nation and the Big Ten’s preeminent team in Wisconsin and shocked the nation to give Wisconsin one of their two conference losses. Although star center Frank Kaminsky was sidelined with a concussion for the Badgers and Traevon Jackson got injured in the game, this was still quite the stunner, as everything went right for the Scarlet Knights on that night.
However, Rutgers could not build on that momentum, as they inexplicably dropped the last 15 games of the year. Their season culminated with a loss to Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament.
In all, it was a season to forget for Jordan.
Individually, both Myles Mack and Kadeem Jack had fine seasons to end their careers. Mack was named to the media’s Big Ten honorable mention list after averaging 13.4 points (team high) and 4.2 assists per game, while shooting .846 from the free-throw line. Jack ended his season averaging 13 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.
2015-16 Look Ahead:
The Scarlet Knights could only go up from here, right? Well, losing three of their top four scorers doesn’t bode well for Jordan’s squad in the 2015-16 season.
Rutgers leading returning scorer is Bishop Daniels, as he averaged 8.4 points per game last season. In all, Jordan returns five (Daniels, Greg Lewis, Mike Williams, Dwayne ‘D.J.’ Foreman, and Shaquille Doorson) of the 10 players who averaged double figures in minutes last season, although none are great scorers.
It will be hard replacing the scoring load of Mack, Jack and Junior Etou (7.4 points and a team-high 6.6 rebounds per game), who transferred from the program in March.
Expect Jordan to lean on a couple of newcomers in stud freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college standout wing Deshawn Freeman. They are both electric players who should bring some much-needed buzz to Rutgers, as they offer a lot of upside. Sanders, is especially an enticing recruit, as he one of the better athletes in the 2015 recruiting class. He can jump out of the gym and will be on plenty of highlight reels for years to come.
Grad transfer Omari Grier, who transferred from Bradley in May, will also offer a steady hand in the backcourt after averaging 9.2 points per game at Bradley.
While the talent is not barren in Piscataway, it should be another transition year for Jordan. The Big Ten is just too stacked to see the Scarlet Knights escaping the bottom of the standings this coming season. However, there is hope of a revival with Sanders leading the way.
And if the Scarlet Knights don’t show considerable improvement this season, it is possible Jordan could face the chopping block. In all, it should be an important season for Rutgers this season, as they are facing many obstacles in turning it around.