2014-2015 ITH season preview: Rutgers Scarlet Knights

  • 09/17/2014 9:04 am in

With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’ll be taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster over the next month. Today, we continue our look at the Big Ten with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

Last season was Eddie Jordan’s first at the helm of the Rutgers basketball program, and it didn’t come easy.

The Scarlet Knights struggled and lost to the likes of UAB, Drexel, William and Mary and Farleigh Dickinson — and that was just in the non-conference season. Playing their first and only season in the American Athletic Conference, the Scarlet Knights finished just 5-13 in conference action, ending the season with a 92-31 loss to Louisville in the AAC tournament and an overall 12-21 record.

And things won’t get easier from here. On July 1, Rutgers officially joined the Big Ten, a perennial power league in college basketball. And for a school that has not had an overall record at or above .500 since the 2005-2006 season and a league record of .500 or better since 2001-2002, it will face an uphill battle as it makes the transition from the old Big East to its new home in the Big Ten.

For Jordan, he sees the process as “rebuilding.” Over the offseason, the Scarlet Knights lost two starters in Wally Judge and J.J. Moore. Both were forwards and former transfers, averaging a combined 18.7 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game and giving Rutgers some experience and stability in an otherwise tumultuous season. Rutgers also lost guards Jerome Seagears and D’Von Campbell, who both transferred out of the New Brunswick school.

But there are quite a few positives for the Rutgers faithful, heading into this season. The Scarlet Knights’ two leading scorers, their rebounds leader and their assists leader from the season prior are all returning. 5-foot-10 Myles Mack is entering his senior year, having led the team with 14.9 points, 4.3 assists and 1.6 steals per game during the 2013-2014 campaign. And 6-foot-9 captain Kadeem Jack also returns for his redshirt senior year, having averaged 14.3 points and a team-best 6.8 rebounds last season.

The Scarlet Knights also add freshmen big men D.J. Foreman and Ibrahima Diallo and guard Mike Williams to the mix, all of whom were ranked in the top 400 of the 247Sports Composite. And they all could get playing time in their first season at Rutgers, as Jordan continues to build the program.

Bottom line: This Rutgers squad likely won’t be one that competes for the top half of the Big Ten this season as it continues the long process of building a competitive program. And in their first season within the Big Ten, things will not come easy for Jordan and his team. The Scarlet Knights have voids left from last season’s team that need to be filled, and though they have two important returnees, newcomers will have to make an instant impact as well. After all, Rutgers won’t have the luxury of facing UCF, South Florida and Houston twice each this season. The Big Ten will be much more demanding.

Quotable: “I know what the Big Ten is about. I’ve seen the teams. I know where we are, and we’re going to be young. I know we’re going to take our lumps. That’s just part of rebuilding. Our kids know that. But we also know what we have to continue to address with our players: You keep competing, you stay together, you keep the locker room solid, you give great effort and you keep harmony. That’s been our mantra.” — Jordan to ScarletKnights.com in June

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  • N71

    Can you imagine, you’re new to the job, you’re just putting together a team for a program that’s historically nothing extraordinary and you have to go into Iowa, Michigan, Indiana, and Maryland and host Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Ohio State. Reminds me of the outlook for the Australians in the movie Gallipoli (the British ordered them to charge Turkish machine gunners so the Brits could go second when the guns were empty).

  • notfargj

    the look on his face says it all.

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    There’s no need to read the article; just the headline and the photo of Eddie Jordan.

  • Gregory Spera

    Rutgers. Freaking Rutgers. *sigh* Embarrassing. Talk about the “tail wagging the dog.” All hail, mighty Cablevision. Maybe the B1G should put James Dolan in charge. Wouldn’t that be sweet.

  • AJ_IU_ColtsFan

    We’ve got to have a “caption this” contest with that picture.

  • VAHoosier

    Great movie with a haunting scene at the end when they charge the guns.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    I get your point Greg (as you are entitled to it) but take second and step back.

    We can’t stand in many ways our biggest out of conference rival (which we don’t currently play) but perhaps mostly because we feel they look down their noses on us and many other programs.

    We aren’t exactly setting the world on fire so in all due respect and class I would hold back on too much of the disparaging stuff. Yes we need to uphold Indiana and all it is in the highest of esteems but running a program down when they are in a very tough situation is below what we expect of Indiana. They have die hard fans and supporters who cannot help their position and giving them the same respect that we desire is only fair and the standard we would want Indiana to operate at.

    Not trying to argue, just some friendly advice to one IU fan/Internet poster to another.

  • Gregory Spera

    I just don’t like the commercial forces currently shaping our conference. If you are constantly chasing the all-mighty TV dollar at the expense of everything else, this is what you get. “Market penetration” should not trump competitive balance and tradition, IMHO. “Super conferences” be damned. I understand it, but I hate it.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    I don’t care for the commercialization either. It takes the purity away from the game. With that said I am not going to take it out on Rutgers. They are who they are and now a member of the Big Ten. I hope they get things going on track because it is best for the conference when they do.

  • CreamandCrimson

    Totally agree. I accept that this is “the way it is” now but I certainly don’t like it. I really hate the ridiculously unbalanced schedules now and I am completely against playing Rutgers in lieu of two games against Purdue or Illinois or another traditional rival. I’ll watch it with interest because it’s IU but I don’t have to love it.

  • notfargj

    agree. that said, do you suppose it would get ugly really fast? is there a classy way to attach a caption to this photo? with all do respect to coach jordan, it appears he’s about ready to knock a reporter’s head off or needs to see a man about a horse.

  • Gregory Spera

    Sorry, but because of the way they have been foisted upon us, I have already worked up the kind of disdain for Rutgers and Maryland that took me many years to build more organically with traditional rivals like like Illinois and Purdue.

  • SCHoosier

    With the talent pool available in the general NY area.. a decent recruiting effort..th market penetration of the B-10 network…many things are possible..long term for he Scarlet Knights..

  • ForeverIU

    Come on man! Their coach is such a teddy bear.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    UCONN or Rutgers? That one still baffles me because they were building respectability in football. You would think UCONN would have jumped at the Big Ten vs the AAC.

  • Ole Man

    Not sure; but I think it was an academics thing.

  • marcusgresham

    “Please pass the Maalox.”

  • marcusgresham

    Nobody that signed this deal cares whatsoever about how bad Rutgers basketball is. There were only two things to consider a.) The New York TV market (as if people in NYC watch Rutgers,) and b.) the football program. Basketball is almost as much of an afterthought as soccer, gymnastics, rowing crew, or competitive hot dog eating.

  • Snookafly

    This is true, but the problem is Rutgers doesn’t bring much to the table in regard to either one of those things.

  • Snookafly

    Yes, but that talent pool has been there since the start of the program and it doesn’t seem to have had much effect.

  • Gregory Spera

    Thanks. I still haven’t come to grips with the realization that the Nebraska program has so quickly developed to the point where they have a better basketball team than us, and by your inference, I guess we should worry about Rutgers doing the same. Depressing.

  • ForeverIU

    Apparently both Rutgers and Maryland are members in a big research/science consortium that also includes the Big Ten and IU.

  • Ole Man

    Could be.
    I was attempting to answer as to why UConn wasn’t chosen over Rutgers.
    It wouldn’t surprise me, however. Rutgers, unknown to many, has some outstanding academic programs. I’m only aware of them from living in the NE for so long.

  • HoosierGrampy

    Eddie Jordan was on a Laker NBA championship team, has serious contacts inside the NBA and is well-thought of among those pundits who follow college ball. He just might be the man to bring relevance back to the Rutgers program; I would be careful to avoid giving his players a little something extra to concentrate on when we play them. Every year a less talented team jumps up and bites a big boy in the butt…IU isn’t exactly immune from that happening this year–or any other year (except for ’76) for that matter.

  • Gregory Spera

    On your last point, I agree. Far from being immune, Indiana, as we saw last year, is extremely susceptible to “losing to a less talented team.” I have made clear in the past, what I think the reason for that is.

  • Bryce Kepner

    Adam Morrison won 2 rings with the Lakers….doesnt necessarily mean that much haha

  • HoosierGrampy

    A lot of players have won “rings”, but only one of them is coaching Rutgers. Say what you like, but don’t be surprised if/when they suddenly become competitive in the B1G. They have had more success in the ladies game than IU…just a Don Imus about their impact on his life…

  • HoosierGrampy

    Greg, I recall agreeing with more than one of your poignant comments pertaining to our $3 million man…

  • Alford Bailey

    WHY? Seriously Rutgers? Of all the schools out there. Terrible pickup for the conference. Used to be very proud of the B1G. Not so much any more. Hoosiers make the jump to the SEC before we are left behind. Beat OSU to the punch before this thing explodes.

  • marcusgresham

    Eh, their football team has been decent as of late.

  • marcusgresham

    Coincidentally, two teams entered that ’76 tournament undefeated—-IU and Rutgers (although Rutgers ended up losing twice thanks to the consolation game. Eddie Jordan was actually on that team. Scored a team-high 16 in their loss to Michigan and was held to 8 by UCLA in the consolation game.)

  • Snookafly

    Not terrible (admittedly better than us actually) but if you could’ve taken any school east of the Rockies for the conference would they have cracked your top 5?

  • marcusgresham

    I’m pretty sure that Morrison never played in the NBA. It looked like him, but the Gonzaga Adam Morrison was replaced in the NBA by Jack White. That’s the only explanation for how his basketball talent totally disappeared.

  • marcusgresham

    I get your point, but Texas Tech, Tennessee, and Louisiana Tech have also had great success in women’s basketball that hasn’t really translated to the male side.
    Texas Tech not much as of late, but there is a reason for us to pay attention this year. My “little” cousin, Jocelyn Mousty, who redshirted her freshman year at IU will be on the team this season (Shameless plug.)

  • marcusgresham

    The SEC wouldn’t accept IU—they won’t force Calipari to return to the Hall.

  • marcusgresham

    I don’t know if they’d have been in my top 50.