October 27th, 2015
Piscataway, NJ – Men’s Basketball Media Day
By Matt Salvatore and Gabe Sustick
The big thing from Rutgers men’s basketball media day that was easy to take away was the amount of new faces on the team for this year. The team features seven new faces from true freshmen, to a senior transfer.
This team, last year, finished 10-22, just 2-16 in the Big Ten Conference. This wasn’t the best impression in their first season in the Big Ten.
They lost their three most productive players in Myles Mack, Kadeem Jack, and Junior Etou. Replacing those guys is going to be an obvious challenge, but head coach Eddie Jordan has combated losing those players with adding more height and depth to the roster.
There are only four players who played considerable amount of minutes from last year in Greg Lewis, Bishop Daniels, Mike Williams, and D.J. Foreman. Greg Lewis, and Bishop Daniels were named team captains, and discussed setting the right example on and off the court, while also increasing their roles vocally. Lewis talked about how competing in Athletes in Action with other DI athletes over the summer kept him in shape and helped him a great deal. Meanwhile, Daniels spoke to his strides to become a better teammate by limiting his turnovers and helping the younger players. As for Williams and Foreman, they spoke to the role reversal from learning from guys like Myles Mack and Kadeem Jack, to now helping to teach the two new freshmen in Corey Sanders and Jonathan Laurent.
The height factor on this team has greatly changed for the better, especially with Ibrahima Diallo being able to play this year, along with the JUCO transfer Deshawn Freeman. Diallo, who worked with former Rutgers great Hamady N’Diaye, is going to add great depth on the bench and he talks about being a “big impact on the defensive end.” Not that Rutgers was bad defensively but to have more length coming off the bench will always help with crashing the boards, and shot blocking as well. Jonathan Laurent also looks to make an impact during his first year with Knights as a player that Eddie Jordan described as a bit of a sleeper. As for returning sophomore Shaquille Doorson, he gets a scan on his foot next week, and is hoping to be out of his cast soon.
True Freshman Corey Sanders, a top 100 recruit in the nation will be expected to contribute to the back court.
At the guard position there is serious depth with the combination of Williams, Daniels, Corey Sanders, and Omari Grier. Right now it looks like some combination of Sanders and Daniels as starters but for two good shooters in Grier and Williams to come off the bench or mixed in other places can spread the floor. Sanders described himself as a 1.5 rather than a pure 1 meaning he believes he is a true combo guard that can pass or shoot. As for the senior transfer, Omari Grier, he says he’s already taken a leadership role as a senior on the team. Also not to be slept on is Justin Goode, who seems to have deadly 3 point accuracy from what was observed in practice.
To be productive as a team there needs to be improvement from Williams and production from Grier to get that system working. Jordan also made it known that, K-State transfer, Nigel Johnson has become a major piece in pushing the guards in practice despite his ineligibility due to NCAA transfer rules.
As for Daniel’s, the senior captain already has motivation to push him forward:
“They’re counting us out already, and to me it’s motivation that we need to grind harder and get it done this year…shock a lot of teams”
Senior Guard Bishop Daniels, one of the team captains is poised for yet another impact season.
It was evident from the press conference that there already seems to be a connection between Jordan and the players and he talked about a message he gave to his players and playing for Rutgers.
“We’re intertwined now, it’s your program it’s my program we represent it and the community so let’s get it back to where it’s supposed to be.
Jordan addressed concerns about managing egos, especially that of star recruit Corey Sanders by saying whenever Corey shoots him “that star look” his response is simple:
“Everyone on the line… two or three suicides later maybe the peer pressure kicks in”
Even with all the new faces and possible talent that is on this team, Coach Jordan isn’t ready to get ahead of himself.
“Now we’re young and we’re new so we need it to come together.”
The “young and new” team’s system will be tested early in the non-conference schedule as they have games at St. John’s and George Washington and home games against Wake Forest and Seton Hall, a game entitled the Garden State Hardwood Classic. Not to mention the entire Big Ten slate of games that come later on in the season.
Even with all the excitement Coach Jordan isn’t making any kinds of predictions. Even when asked about the predictions for the NBA season he responded, with a big grin on his face.
“I predict that the season will start tonight.”
WRSU’s Rutgers Men’s Basketball regular season coverage gets underway on Sunday, November 15th at home against Howard. WRSU Rutgers Radio will have all Rutgers Basketball coverage on 88.7 FM and its online stream at wrsu.org.