Time To Regroup
Well that was quite a turn of events. In my last article I did some chest beating on the emergence of Montez Mathis and a young Rutgers team after a big conference home win over Ohio State. I did mention that a tough road awaits in the midwest and man was that ever true. A lopsided loss at Minnesota and a second half beatdown at Purdue have put things into perspective. While this team has loads of promise they are playing in a conference that is unrelenting. Lately RU has been at least competitive on the road which was not the case this time around. That is cause for some concern but they were without their best player, Eugene Omoruyi and they are a young team playing together in front of hostile crowds on the road for the first time. They were overwhelmed in the second half of both games and it showed. Sloppy offense and turnovers led to defensive lapses and the route was on.
Lesson learned, now put it in the past because Rutgers is getting exactly what they need Friday night. A home crowd and facing a Northwestern team at the bottom half of the conference. The key is getting back to basics. Coach Pikiell has preached defense since he arrived on the banks but it disappeared on this past road trip. In the last two games, I have never seen RU give up so many easy baskets in the Pikiell era. Something is slipping that needs to be addressed. On offense they need to be patient and limit the turnovers. Also the RAC needs to be alive as it was against Ohio State. There’s nothing like coming home to a big, loud crowd.
No big surprises here. Yes Rutgers needs to find a way to be more competitive on the road and they must find the gritty defense against Northwestern that won the Ohio State game. These ups and downs were expected this season from a young team but there’s no place like home.