By Jon Rothstein
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1. RAPID SHUFFLING
When Rutgers coach Mike Rice was at Robert Morris, he regularly played 10 players and substituted almost every minute of every game — we expect something similar to occur with his team this season. Starting with the 17-minute mark of the first half in Monday’s 88-62 win against Sacred Heart, Rice was constantly shuffling players in and out in an effort to keep fresh bodies on the floor. If this team is to make a jump in the Big East, their depth has to play into their favor. The Scarlet Knights have a legitimate 10-11 players that they can put in the game on nightly basis and that might ultimately be this team’s greatest strength this season.
2. DUAL BIGS
Much has been wondered about how Rutgers will play this season at power forward and center. Many times last year, the Scarlet Knights flourished when Dane Miller slid down to the four and was surrounded by a post player and three guards — it doesn’t look like that will happen as frequently as people anticipated this season. Thanks to a surplus of big men, Rice intends to play two of them together at a time, leaving Miller and junior Mike Poole on the wings at small forward.
3. JUDGE’S VISION
We knew Wally Judge would be a lot of things for Rutgers this season — one of them wasn’t a passer. The 6-9 Judge showed a keen eye for finding guards slashing to the basket and regularly found his teammates for layups at the rim. If Rice continues to go with two traditional big men at a time at power forward and center, Judge’s ability to facilitate could be an invaluable asset. He finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds, and three assists on Monday night.
4. THE BOOK OF ELI
Eli Carter put a disappointing opening game performance against St. Peter’s behind him and showed exactly what he is against Sacred Heart — one of the better guards in the Big East. Carter, who came off the bench on Monday scored 18 points in 22 minutes while dazzling the crowd with a vast array of offensive moves. For Rutgers to have any chance in the Big East, Carter has to play like an all-conference player.
5. TIGER TANGLE
Rutgers got what it desperately needed on Monday night — their first victory — but a tall task remains before the week is over. The Scarlet Knights next tilt is Friday night at Ivy League contender Princeton, a team that has beaten their New Jersey counterpart in each of the last two seasons. After last week’s opening game loss to St. Peter’s, Rice and Rutgers can’t afford another loss to a non BCS team in their non-conference schedule.
BY THE NUMBERS:
The number of blocked shots by Rutgers sophomore big man Kadeem Jack.
The numbers of players on Rutgers who logged double figure minutes.
THEY SAID IT:
“We’re probably not going to have one starting lineup the entire year. We’re going to switch things if we have to switch them,” – Rutgers coach Mike Rice on whether or not he’ll keep the same starting lineup Friday at Princeton.
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