By Jon Rothstein
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1. EASY E
For a team that’s been lacking offense, Rutgers might have found their solution. Freshman guard Eli Carter is starting to emerge as a legitimate go to scorer for the Scarlet Knights and led them with 21 points in Monday night’s 81-66 win over Monmouth. If one other member of Mike Rice’s first-year back court — Myles Mack or Jerome Seagears can emerge as a double-figure threat, this team can get progressively better over the course of the season.
Gilvydas Biruta never stops working. Not in games, not in practice, and certainly not in any form of competition. The key for him moving forward will be playing at a half step slower and not putting himself in situations where he’s rushing on either side of the floor. If he does that, he’s an All-Big-East player by his junior season.
3. MASS ACCELERATION
Rutgers didn’t have the bodies last season to play at a fast pace but that may be this team’s best chance of winning games. Once Kadeem Jack and Malick Kone return from injury, Mike Rice should have the ability to play a deep rotation and feature three guard alignments with the hope of regularly pushing the tempo.
4. DANE’S DRIVE
Dane Miller has had an enigmatic career since he’s been at Rutgers but the small forward was active as I’ve ever seen him in Monday’s win over Monmouth. Blocking shots on defense and facilitating on offense, Miller looked like the glue guy many anticipated he’d be when the season started, finishing with 13 points, 11 rebounds, and seven blocked shots. His energy will be paramount for this team to have a chance in the Big East.
5. THE KING JUST NEEDS HIS COURT
King Rice wasn’t expected to challenge in the NEC in his first season at Monmouth but you could see glimpses of what the Hawks could become once their roster is upgraded. Incorporating certain principles he learned while he played at North Carolina under Dean Smith, Rice looks more than capable of making the Jersey Shore school into a contender after a few recruiting classes.
BY THE NUMBERS
13, 11, and 7
The number of points, rebounds, and blocked shots for Rutgers junior wing Dane Miller.
What Rutgers freshman guard Eli Carter shot from the floor en route to
21 points against Monmouth.
THEY SAID IT
“There was an energy and purpose to his game that wasn’t there in the early part of the season,” Rutgers coach Mike Rice on Dane Miller.
“No player in America wants to win more than he does,” Rice on Gilvydas Biruta.
Is Eli Carter the solution for Rutgers? Sound off below…