Media Day for the Rutgers men’s basketball team went on as scheduled today, although it was slightly overshadowed by the earlier groundbreaking ceremony for the new RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center.
However, when Steve Pikiell finally made it to the podium, he spoke in depth about the upcoming season, including the work ethic of his team, the style they want to play, and even how the starting lineup is shaping up. He was poised and confident as he stood in front of the media members, and seemed very upbeat about the current state of the program.
Here is the full video from the press conference:
One of the things impresses me most about Steve Pikiell is his candor. He’s not afraid to tell the players (or the media) that they were in terrible shape for college athletes. He knows that we need to shoot the ball better. It’s a work in progress, but we’re making strides.
From a player’s perspective, you know what you’re going to get. Best defender on the team? You’re starting. Best rebounder? You’re starting. Work hard and learn in practice? You’ll earn your playing time. Simply put, he’s building an identity for Rutgers basketball and creating a competitive culture that hasn’t existed around here for a long time.
With just 10 days to the start of the regular season, we’ll soon be able to get a real sense for this version of the Scarlet Knights. And after hearing the coach today, I’m excited to see how far we’ve come.
College basketball season must be right around the corner…the new KenPom ratings are here.
In case you missed the post on the Rutgers KenPom numbers last season, you can catch up here.
Now on to the key Rutgers takeaways from this year’s first release…
- No longer the worst KenPom rating among all Power 7 schools – Rutgers was way behind the P7 pack last year, finishing at 279. However, this year, we’ve jumped one P7 team and have closed the gap significantly on the rest of the group. KenPom has RU rated at 191, while Saint Louis (lowest P7) is at 224. The second-lowest Big Ten school is Penn State at 98.
- We’re projected to improve offensively – I know what you’re thinking…how could we not? After finishing last season ranked 303 out of 351, we are expected to take some positive steps forward. According to KenPom, our Adjusted Offensive Efficiency is 99.1 (up from 96.3), which puts us at #192. Still not where we want to be, but leaps and bounds ahead of last year.
- We’re also projected to improve defensively – Last year, RU was rated 235 with an Adjusted Defensive Efficiency of 106.9. The hiring of a defensive-minded coach seems to have made an impact though, as we enter this year at 184 (and an ADE of 100.6). I personally think this is even a little too low. We’re going to surprise a lot of people with our toughness and effort on the defensive end. More importantly, we also now have the size to control the defensive glass.
- Slow and steady wins the race – One of the most eye-popping differences between this year and last year will be our pace. Last season, we were the 53rd ranked team in the country in terms of how fast we played. This season? We’re projected at 241. Again, this is a direct reflection of Steve Pikiell’s philosophy. Play in the halfcourt, limit turnovers, control the tempo, and keep the game close deep into the 2nd half. It may not be the most exhilarating thing to watch, but in our case, slower is definitely better.
To find out more details, including how other teams were rated, check out the full 2017 KenPom ratings.
Earlier today, Steve Pikiell stepped up to the podium to address the media and answer questions at his first Big Ten Media Day.
After the press conference, he joined the BTN Live crew to discuss his coaching career and the state of the team heading into the 2016-17 season.
Personally, I was really impressed with the way Coach Pikiell handled himself today. He knows he’s coming into a tough situation, but I thought he displayed a quiet confidence and he’s obviously shown the willingness to work on the recruiting trail. He spoke positively about the school, not only from an athletic standpoint, but also academically. It was obvious that this is somewhere he wants to be and he’s ready for the challenge of building this program.
Interestingly, this is not the first time he’s mentioned Corey Sanders and the defensive impact he can have (and I’m sure it won’t be the last). I think the constant reinforcement is his way of motivating Corey to reach new heights on that end of the floor, and hopefully it pays off.
Coach Pikiell is doing and saying all the right things, and after today, I’m more confident than ever that we’re in good hands moving forward.
Earlier today, the Scarlet Knights departed for Washington D.C. in preparation for the 2016 Big Ten Media Day. Representing the team this year will be Corey Sanders, Mike Williams, and Head Coach Steve Pikiell. RVision All Access followed their journey to the nation’s capital.
The event starts tomorrow at 9am with coach press conferences.
After only one conference win in 2015-16, it was obvious that Rutgers needed an influx of new talent to compete in the Big Ten. To add to that, when the smoke cleared after Eddie Jordan was let go, we were left with only seven scholarship players. That’s why it was so important that Steve Pikiell wasted no time hitting the recruiting trail when he took the job.
In just a few short months, Pikiell changed the entire makeup of the roster by adding much-needed height and versatile defenders. In doing so, he made a statement about how this team will play and what aspects of the game will be emphasized by the new regime.
Let’s take a look at what each of the 6 newcomers bring to the table.
Last night marked the triumphant return of MidKnight Madness at the RAC. So with the unofficial start to the season underway (practice actually began last week), it’s time to look at the top storylines for Rutgers entering the 2016-17 season.
Finally Some Height
The RU team that steps on the floor this season will look shockingly different from the last few years in terms of physical stature. For the first time in a long time, we have solid size and depth up front. In fact, we’re the biggest team in the conference. CJ Gettys and Shaquille Doorson are both 7-footers, and having that extra bulk certainly can’t hurt during conference play.
The Corey Sanders Show
By all accounts, Corey Sanders had a very solid freshman season for a team that struggled. In fact, he led all Big Ten freshmen in points (15.9), assists (4.3), and steals (1.8). And his near triple-double performance in a 3OT loss to Illinois — 39 points, 12 assists, 8 rebounds — was one of the highlights of the season.
However, he was also suspended for two weeks due to a violation of team rules.
So what can we expect this year under a new coaching staff? First off, I’d like to see his assists come up a bit (5+), especially now that he has more help around him. It’s his time to run the show and get his teammates going.
Also, while the steal numbers were impressive, there’s a sense that as a team, we were too focused on jumping passing lanes last season (and often getting burned) rather than staying home and playing sound defense. I think Corey takes a big leap forward defensively with the new staff emphasizing that part of the game.
New Sheriff in Town
Back in March, Rutgers hired Steve Pikiell as Head Coach. And in only a short amount of time, he’s already starting to put his stamp on this team. His tireless recruiting efforts have resulted in some big offseason additions, including Candido Sa and Issa Thiam. Coach Pikiell has also made it a point to focus on conditioning, and even dropped the classic (but somewhat frightening) quote, “They couldn’t even do a one-hour workout the first time,” when responding to a question about player conditioning when he took the job.
It seems like we’re headed in the right direction. The players are buying in, working hard, and getting their bodies ready for a rigorous Big Ten schedule. Coach Pikiell is a man with a plan. Even the Athletic Department is finally investing in the program.
Behind the scenes, we’re making all the right moves. The next step is to show progress on the court.