"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Monday, January 25, 2010

Know your opponent: Rutgers Scarlet Knights

After back-to-back road losses the Marquette Warriors (11-8, 2-5) return home on Tuesday night to take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (9-10, 0-7).

To familiarize us with Fred Hill's squad we're pleased to welcome Shawn Layton from On The Banks Of The Raritan for a Q/A about his beloved Scarlet Knights. If you're interested -- be sure to check out the Q/A we wrote up about MU for his blog.

Fred Hill's tenure at Rutgers went from high optimism to the hot seat quickly. What went wrong?

The 41-70 record during the Fred Hill era hasn't helped his cause. When he brought Mike Rosario and Fred Echenique to the Banks, things were looking up for RU. Rosario is the school's first McDonald's All-American and Echenique's absence during the 0-7 start to this year's Big East schedule illustrates how valuable the guys was for us on the interior. Echenique's transfer to Creighton and the horrific start to conference play has many calling for Hill to be fired. He'll be here for the rest of the season, but all hell will break loose if the dude isn't gone at the end of this season. Fans are fed up with an inept program and are demanding a high-profile hiring this spring/summer.

Mike Rosario is a gunner, but his efficiency suffers. Who would you prefer to see take more shots in the offense?

Great question--I'd like to see Jonathan Mitchell take more from the outside and Dane Miller take the ball to the rim more consistently. Miller hasn't developed the jumpshot we all hope he will, but this hasn't detered him from launching some ill-advised three-pointers. Mitchell has a much better shot and a more developed game at this point, but Miller has incredible potential. Unfortunately, Miller's youth shows at times. He lit up Providence and Villanova for 26 points and was held scoreless in Saturday's loss to Georgetown. I'd love to see RU limit its turnovers and create better looks off dribble penetration. I'd also love to see a win, but at this point, I'd take some clean play.

Despite its proximity to New York City and Philadelphia, the Scarlet Knights have been unable to breakthrough as a consistent upper-tier BIG EAST program. Any explanation for the program's struggles? Any signs of hope for a breakthrough?

Hopefully the university and Athletic Director Tim Pernetti have learned from their mistakes. This program has been at the bottom of the Big East for too long to take another shot on coaches like Fred Hill, Gary Waters, and Kevin Bannon. At this point, we need a proven Division I coach--someone with Tournament experience and a history of turning high school recruits into NBA players. You are right about the NYC/Philly area, but don't forget the goldmine that is NJ high school basketball. Schools like St. Patrick and St. Anthony are always among the top teams in the country and produce quality DI players. Villanova's three Jersey players combined for 48 points against RU last week. The right coach with the right pedigree can persuade such talent to rebuild the RU program. It's happening in football at the Banks. The school has to make the right decisions in the next few months.

Besides Rosario, who should we watch out for?
Senior Hamady N'Diaye is fun to watch if he can stay out of foul trouble. N'Diaye's our only inside presence with Echenique gone so it's been rough going for him of late. He leads the Big East in blocked shots, averaging 4.7 per game, and is currently No. 3 nationally. If he gets in foul trouble, Marquette can throw the ball inside and open the floor for its three-point shooters. If this happens, it will be a Marquette blowout.

How do you see the game unfolding against MU?
Hopefully not like the last seven Big East contests for RU. Rosario can't do it all and if he feels like he must, it will be another ugly game. Guys like Jonathan Mitchell and Dane Miller have to start strong and be consistent. Our leading scorers in Big East games tend to get their points when the game is already in the bag. This can't happen. I expect RU to come out inspired, play with desire, but turn the ball over too much. They'll probably commit 8-10 first half turnovers and then get off to a slow start in the second half. They won't quit and will make things interesting, but simply run out of firepower at the end.

Thanks Shawn!

Tipoff for the game is set for 8pm Marquette Standard Time. ESPNU will broadcast the game.

Media Updates
Official Marquette game notes.
Rosiak preview from the Journal-Sentinel.
Rosiak on Cadougan's surprise return.
Marquette graduate Wesley Matthews scored a career-high 21 points last night in a Jazz win.
New Jersey's Jerry Carino on the Scarlet Knights' need to stay positive.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good write up on Rutgers. Hopefully MU can get back to winning and get rid of this stench of losing. yuck.