#122 Rutgers Men's Basketball Preview

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Overall Rank: #122
Conference Rank: #14 Big East

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2010-11: 15-17, 5-13
2010-11 postseason: none
Coach: Mike Rice (15-17 at Rutgers, 88-48 overall)

Coach Mike Rice has certainly done a good job changing the culture at Rutgers. During his first year of trying to turn around the program, the Scarlet Knights finished with a solid 15-17 record. There are a lot of players to replace, but the talented group of newcomers is what has everybody so excited. Expectations should be tempered for this season, but by the end of the 2011-2012 campaign, this should be a very good Rutgers team. Working their way into a postseason berth in 2012 will lead to much better things in coming years.

Who’s Out:
Three of the team’s top five scorers from last year are gone and all three of them averaged over 30 minutes per game. Jonathan Mitchell led the way, averaging 14.4 points and 5.6 rebounds. He was also the team’s most consistent outside shooter, which was pretty impressive for a forward who did such a good job hitting the glass. James Beatty was the only other outside shooting threat last season, knocking down two per contest. Mike Coburn led the Scarlet Knights in assists and proved to be a pretty good scorer as well. Forward Robert Lumpkins is also gone after tallying 3.5 points per game last season.

Who’s In:
This is where it gets fun. Myles Mack is ready to take over the point guard duties from day one. He is only 5-10, but he is a strong player who can get into the paint and make plays. Jerome Seagears and Elijah Carter can run the point as well, but one of them will likely step into the starting role at the shooting guard spot. Seagears should develop into a great all-around player sooner than later. Carter is the most offensive orientated point guard of the bunch and will likely spend his collegiate career off the ball. However, like Seagears, he will give the Scarlet Knights another player who can handle the ball in the backcourt. Michael Taylor and Malick Kone will provide more depth on the wings. Kadeem Jack is expected to be the star of the frontcourt, both present and future. He still needs to add some girth, but Jack is a solid interior player. He may get pushed around in the Big East this year, but the entire team will have a lot of growing to do. Derrick Randall and Greg Lewis will battle for minutes in the frontcourt as well.

Who to Watch:
The small forward and power forward positions are in good hands with some actual returning players. Dane Miller is a great fit for this group at the three spot. He is not much of a shooter, but he is a good scorer around the basket and led the team with 6.1 rebounds per game last year. His ability to hit the glass will allow Coach Rice to use an undersized backcourt without having to worry about getting beat on the glass. Gilvydas Biruta can stretch out the defense with his mid-range jumper. The 6-8 power forward is coming off of a superb freshman campaign in which he averaged 9.6 points and 5.6 rebounds. He appears to be making great progress during the offseason as well, helping the Lithuanian Under 20 National Team. All signs point to Biruta emerging as a big time player and a leader of this young team. Junior Austin Johnson has some more girth at 250 pounds and was a key player off of the bench last season. If he does not earn a starting job this year, he will at least be asked to contribute 15 to 20 minutes per game again.

Final Projection:
The long awaited debut of Tyree Graham will probably have to wait another year after he suffered an ACL injury in the spring. That leaves the newcomers to handle a majority of the minutes in the backcourt. However, Austin Carroll and Mike Poole will be in the mix as well. Carroll can be a very good shooter, but he has yet to prove it in game situations. He also lacks the overall game to be a starter. Yet, he very easily could turn into a fine shooter off of the bench. Poole, a 6-5 sophomore, averaged nearly 20 minutes per contest last season. He has the size and strength to attack the basket, but he will stay a role player on this team until his outside starts falling more consistently. In any event, Rutgers has plenty of options in the backcourt, albeit inexperienced options. The bigger issue may end up being in the paint where the team needs to find a bruiser who can battle on the defensive end with the tough big guys in the Big East.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Myles Mack, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Jerome Seagears, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Dane Miller, Junior, Guard, 9.2 points per game
Gilvydas Biruta, Sophomore, Forward, 9.6 points per game
Kadeem Jack, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season

Madness 2011 Recruit Rankings

#56  Myles Mack

#121  Jerome Seagears

#137  Elijah Carter

#150  Derrick Randall

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