Rutgers Men's Basketball Know How to Win

Which New Jersey Division I college basketball team sports a 10-1 record? Easy. It must be Princeton. They returned 98% of their scoring from an NIT team last year. Wrong. How about Seton Hall? They won the Big East Tournament last season. Wrong.
It is a team which went 7-25 and 1-17 in conference last season. That would be Rutgers.
What is the big difference between last year and this year? Steve Pikiell is now the head coach. He replaced Eddie Jordan who was fired after three dismal seasons.
Greg Herenda, the Fairleigh Dickinson coach, said after losing to Rutgers 82-69 Wednesday night, said "now it is a new Rutgers basketball team." He is right.
Coach Pikiell assembled perhaps the best staff in Rutgers basketball history. Sitting on the bench is associate head coach Karl Hobbs, who was the former George Washington coach, Jay Young, an outstanding defensive mind, Brandin Knight, an ace recruiter from Pitt and Steve Hayn, the former United States Merchant Marine coach, who is a special advisor to Pikiell and coached with him as assistants at Central Connecticut Sate.
Rutgers has not played the most challenging schedule to date, largely because Pikiell felt that it was necessary to teach his team how to win. And teach he has. The Knights have beaten DePaul and Stony Brook on the road and played Miami tough, losing by a 73-61 count.
Rutgers relies heavily on a deep bench and an athletic starting five. Corey Sanders is the star at guard. He is complemented by Kansas State transfer Nigel Johnson. Pikiell brought in a key piece in C. J. Gettys, who started for UNC-Wilmington's 2015-16 NCAA team. The 7-0 center has been a key cog in the middle for Pikiell, playing with his back to the basket. Junior college transfer Candido Sa and freshman Issa Thiam, a 6-9 two guard, have shone.
Rutgers went undefeated at the RAC and started 8-0 at home for the first time since 2001-02. Rutgers plays Fordham at Madison Square Garden Sunday in the Holiday Festival and then Seton Hall on the road, in perhaps its toughest test of the season.
When Rutgers enters the Big Ten wars at Wisconsin on December 27th, one thing will be certain: Pikiell's team will know how to win. That hasn't been the case since Gary Waters was the head coach years back.