With Nigel Johnson and CJ Gettys leading the way, Rutgers defeated Drexel 87-66 on Sunday to move to 2-0 (after a season-opening win against Division II Molloy on Friday night).
The game was never close in the second half, as the Scarlet Knights showed the ability to build a big lead and deter any Drexel run.
Here are the most important takeaways:
- Dominating the Boards – You’ll have to think long and hard for the last time you saw such an impressive rebounding display from a Rutgers team. The final margin was 56-29, with the Knights grabbing 23 offensive rebounds. Deshawn Freeman led the way with 10 and Gettys added 9, but it seems like every RU player was crashing the glass.
- Defensive Prowess – I know Drexel is picked to finish towards the bottom of the CAA, but the Rutgers defense was solid throughout. Besides the rebounding difference, Rutgers also held the Dragons to 38% shooting, and 29% from 3-point range. More importantly, they were able to play tight defense without fouling, committing only 15 fouls in the game.
- Never-Ending Rotation – When Steve Pikiell talked about depth, he wasn’t kidding. Nine guys played 13 minutes or more, and six of those guys played 21 minutes or more. Good sign for Rutgers. Another good sign – on a night when Corey Sanders and Issa Thiam struggled to get going, guys like Nigel Johnson and Candido Sa came off the bench to pick up the slack.
- Effort and Intensity – This is the area that I was most impressed with. After years of watching low-energy, lifeless performances, I watched a team against Drexel that was intense and played together. Talking on defense, bench players actively cheering for their teammates…the little things that show that this team is building chemistry. Although he didn’t fill up the stat sheet, I thought Mike Williams played like a leader, and his defensive pressure and hustle set the tone for the team.