2007-2008 Rutgers Scarlet Knights Basketball Preview
Rutgers Scarlet Knights -
2006-07: 10-18, 3-13, 15th (t)
2006-07 postseason: none
If Rutgers is going to shoot a pathetic 38.9 percent from the floor and score a horrendous 59.8 points per game, they must have done something in order to reach the ten win mark, right? How about a positive rebounding margin? Nope. Or a positive assist-to-turnover ratio? Not quite. Rutgers only had nine assists per game, ranking dead last in the Big East and an impressive 325 th overall. It turns out Rutgers did not do much right at all during Coach Fred Hill’s first year at the helm. However, with a new year comes new possibilities and the State University of New Jersey does not lack in potential.
Maybe the good news is that a ton of players are gone, paving the way for freshmen with potential to be on the team instead of veterans who, for the most part, underachieved. Adrian Hill was the lone true post presence and averaged 9.7 points and 6.9 rebound as a senior. The only other starter lost is Marquis Webb who averaged 10.1 points and was the best shooter on the team, for whatever that is worth. Players like Ollie Bailey and Frank Russell saw some quality minutes last year and it is that lack of depth that will be a big problem this year for Rutgers. Jon Mimmo, Jason Cherry and Shayle Keating are gone after seeing limited minutes.
Coach Hill is known for his recruiting and that always gives hope to a struggling program. This year the team will have a couple newcomers who will immediately make the team better. Corey Chandler has the most potential and the 6-2 combo guard hopes to turn around Rutgers scoring woes. Chandler will score from anywhere on the floor and having a shooting guard who can handle the ball will certainly help with the assist-to-turnover problem that plagued the team last year. Having a point guard like Mike Coburn cannot hurt either. Coburn, like Chandler, will battle for a starting spot this year and will at least see plenty of action off the bench. Coburn is not a flashy playmaker, but he is steady and that is exactly what this team needs. The 6-0 Coburn will do plenty of scoring as well and the team could always use another scorer. Earl Pettis, a 6-5 wing, will add more depth to the perimeter, as will shooting guard Justin Sofman. Pettis’ versatility and scoring ability will get him an opportunity this year. Junior college transfer Thomas Askew and incoming freshmen Kofi Genfi and Charlie Rigoglioso will look for some playing time as well, but what this class really lacks is a true frontcourt player to replace Hill. Byron Joynes does return after missing last season with a handful of injuries. The redshirt senior started in 2005-2006 and averaged 3.1 points and 5.5 rebounds. He will likely find a starting job again this year as long as he can stay healthy.
Who to Watch:
Anthony Farmer, Courtney Nelson and Jaron Griffin form a decent returning group of perimeter players. Farmer, the point guard, cannot be blamed for the horrific assist-to-turnover numbers as he dished out 3.1 assists per game and turned it over only 2.2 times. Those are not great numbers, but good enough. The reason he may lose his starting job is his shooting. Farmer epitomized Rutgers shooting woes making just 2.6 of his 8.1 shots per game. Nelson was no better, shooting under 30 percent from the floor and the former transfer from Richmond has the potential to do much better than that. Until he finds his stroke he will be on the bench again this season. Jaron Griffin was disappointing last year too, shooting just 28.1 percent from long range. The 6-7 wing is a match-up problem and actually spent most of his time at the four spot last year. With Joynes returning, that will not be the case this year and, if he can find his shot, Grffin will be a quality player on the wing.
Final Rutgers Projection:
J.R. Inman is the superstar in waiting of the team. He led the squad with 12.0 points and 7.3 rebounds last year and could be a household name in Big East country if he becomes more forceful around the basket. The athletic big man can hit the outside shot relatively consistently and will spend more time at the power forward spot this year, which should allow him to be more flexible on the offensive end. Hopefully, for Rutgers fans, that will also create more confidence for Inman and turn him into the team’s go-to-scorer. Sophomore center Hamady N’Diaye is still a raw talent, but he is a superb shot blocker and the team hopes he can play a bigger role this season after showing off his potential last year. The depth up front is slim and replacing Hill’s numbers will be a difficult challenge, but with Joynes back, the team will look a little more traditional with a couple big men on the floor most of the time. That will help in the rebounding department, but the Scarlet Knights just do not have enough talent to make much noise in a tough Big East.
Projected Postseason Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Anthony Farmer, Junior, Guard, 7.8 points per game
Corey Chandler, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Jaron Griffin, Junior, Guard, 8.6 points per game
J.R. Inman, Junior, Forward, 12.0 points per game
Byron Joynes, Senior, Center, DNP last season
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