The Battle of New Jersey
The opinions on this game are as different as the opinions of Clarence Thomas and Constance Baker Motley. Some of you will got that but most will not. But I will attempt to make my thoughts as clear as possible or as I always say to many, straight without a chaser.
Game looked great on TV with good fan shots etc. That was until I saw all the empty seats including behind the Rutgers Band. And I have heard that band and they are pretty good so it was not like people were getting away from bad music. How could this game not sell out? OK I understand the records, etc. But this was SHU vs RU! Come on this game should be worthy of Dick Vitale doing the color. Although I do enjoy Jay Williams or Jason as he used to be known before moving to Jersey City lol. I think he is great and has real potential. same thing I said when he scored 40 against my son's AAU team when he was in 10th grade and they did not even have a 3 point line.
back to the game. This should have sold out despite the records of the teams. Who are the marketing folks at Rutgers? But despite less than sell out crowd, the atmosphere seemed great. Both teams seemed determined to win the game and we all know who did so I do not need to discuss the outcome as much as my observations and a tad bit more. This game could have been won by either team based on the way they both played. I knew from the start it would be close to the end. And when the game comes down to the final minute or two, toughness will almost always win out! Thus the case with the SHU win.
Rutgers has good players and folks who say otherwise are fooling themselves. What they should say is they have under performing players at a number of positions. I honestly think Rutgers does need now, and maybe in the future, a therapist sitting behind the bench and at practices. The kids on that team really need assistance beyond basketball. Are they happy? Rosario and Enchinique might be. Others I am not so sure about. maybe they should not be? maybe I am wrong to think they should be enjoying the college experience even if it does require hard work and dedication.
But if anyone saw these same players in HS watched them yesterday they would be stunned. Some who we thought would be very good look like they could be nothing more than role players in the Northeast Conference. Heck Shagari Allyne looked better in his limited role at Kentucky and as a red shirt at Manhattan. There are at least 4 top 100 players on the roster and another 3-5 guys who were top 150. What's the problem? Is it all the kids fault? Is it FHJ's fault? Everyone is scared to say because they do not wish to get folks upset. Well I will say what I think.
I honestly think actual game coaching is not the problem. The problem is people management including confidence building. FHJ is a good enough coach and a good enough recruiter. The problem might be how to motivate and manage people in the RU program. What does it take to build a kid up to the point he thinks he is invincible? It seems to me some of the kids at Rutgers seem to have very little confidence at this time. Believe it or not Rutgers and SHU will get very few program changing recruits. The kids they get will have solid BE potential and with work and development could blossom during their time in NJ. St. Johns on the other side of the river could get program changers based on tradition, and Madison Square Garden. Watch Lance Stephenson as an example. Yes Phil Sellers turned down ND to attend Rutgers but he was recruited by one of the best Salesmen of all time who knew how to get it done with a stud player. These days it is different because most program changers are looking for more than a great campus, girls and coaching. Trust me!
So Rutgers and Seton Hall will need to get it done with 4 star players at best for a long time and an occasional transfer or 2, or 3 who might have been a stud in HS. This is why getting into the minds of your players is so important. Getting them to compete every play and possession. Getting them to believe in themselves.
Now the RU players. I honestly hate watching how some of them compete. If JR Inman, and I have told him this, would run the damn court he would be a much better player. I have never seen a kid just jog up and down as much as he does. I also think he needs to want the ball. Does he want it? Is he still hungry? He seems content to just be out there. Maybe its confidence. maybe he is reading this so I will also say maybe Tyler Hansborough took his heart last year and he has not recovered. Similar to what Labron James did to Lenny Cooke at ABCD years ago and Lenny has never been the same. But damn it run the freeking court hard. Do they not practice running lanes? He takes the ball out and jogs behind the play. Yes he also needs to attack the rim and believe in the finish and not wish it will happen. Maybe he just needs to run to the career development center and start filling out job applications because he needs to step it up big if he wishes to continue playing basketball anywhere. And FHJ gave him minutes yesterday and did not yank him for the bad airball, etc. Your turn JR!!!
Farmer is doing just fine and Griffin is just there because he knows and feels it will not happen for him in this his senior year. Sad! Rosario is a kid I LOVE! Not because he has a good game. I love the way he competes and pulls for his teammates. He honestly wants Corey Chandler, JR, and Pettis to do well. He seems like a great person! Ditto Enchinique. This kid seems so nice. But I wonder if folks will turn on him if he is averaging 7 points and 6 rebounds his junior year? Corey Chandler has game but now seems so confused. Yes he stood and cheered. But deep inside he must be hurting. Question is how much and will he be happy in a supportive role next season or does he transfer to a high major school similar to what Malcolm Grant did when he left Nova for Miami? Will Pettis come back or will his Mom and AAU coach snatch him after this season. Rumors are they wanted to take him out a few games ago before he started and had a good game.
Seton Hall to me is no better talent wise than Rutgers at this point with 8 players. Next year it will be no comparison. But this season they are almost over achieving. But that happens with tougher kids. At one time I honestly thought Harvey was better than Farmer. I now think they are equal. In fact it is really close across the board except with Hazell. Garcia does make a difference as well and I can just imagine how good he would be if he was healthy.
If Garcia comes back to SHU next season, and you put him with the transfers and current players, WOW! Of course it depends on Hazell not getting over confident and declaring for the NBA early.
But this game is turning into a true rivalry. The rivalry will keep most of the future games close because the way I see it the talent swings hard in SHU's favor next season. Yes RU has some players coming in and the current players will be hopefully better. But wonder if any of them can really measure up to Pope, Lawrence, and to a lessor extent Robinson?