Oftentimes clichés such as the following, are apropos when it comes to sports:
Slow and steady wins the race.
Rome wasn’t built in a day.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
They can not only be used to describe teams, but individual players. In this case, it’s Rutgers forward, Eugene Omoruyi. If you log onto scarletknights.com, you will find the following description of him there:
“Second-year sophomore from North of the border … athletic and versatile player with a strong work ethic … brings aggressiveness and hustle to the floor.”
Omoruyi, from Rexdale, Canada attended the basketball powerhouse, Orangeville Prep. A number of his teammates there are playing major D1 hoops here in the states, and one, Thon Maker, is on the Milwaukee Bucks. Over his first two seasons on the banks, Eugene was a complimentary player at best. True to slow and steady wins the race form, his numbers have increased when given the opportunity. As a freshman he went from playing 12 minutes a game and averaging 2 points, to logging 22 minutes and 8 points as a sophomore. Clearly the bump in production has not gone unnoticed by his head coach, Steve Pikiell:
“Eugene Omoruyi will be again the most improved guy in the program. From his freshman year until now, it is amazing what he has done; transformed his body and his game. He is making threes. In practice every day, he is shooting the ball at a high clip. He is doing all the other things. I think he led the league in charges last year. That is a great stat for a guy who didn’t start.”
Two games into this campaign and he is averaging 19 points and 10 rebounds in 28 minutes of playing time. A big reason for the 11 point increase in scoring is that he is now a legitimate threat from beyond the three-point line. This off-season Eugene took 500 three-point shots per day, six days a week, and has made himself a more well rounded player. I know it’s a small sample size, but he is 6-7 on three pointers already this season.
With Corey Sanders forgoing his final season of eligibility at RU, Pikiell is counting on Omoruyi, among others (Geo Baker, Peter Kiss, etc.) to step up and lead. So far so good.
****Friday night at the RAC, RU will try to keep the good times rolling (they are 2-0) when they take on St. John’s. This is the final game of the 2018 Gavitt Tip-off Games, which pits teams from the Big Ten Conference against those from the Big East Conference. They are named in honor of BIG EAST founder and basketball visionary Dave Gavitt. As of this writing, Big Ten teams have won six of eight contests. The Scarlet Knights will face an explosive offensive team, one with a tremendous backcourt. Shamorie Ponds, chosen as the BE‘s pre-season player of the year, is a left handed blur with the rock in his hand.
Photo: Silver Screen and Roll
He can get to the basket on anyone, is great on floaters in the lane, and can light it up from distance too. This season, he has some serious help in the form of Auburn transfer, Mustapha Heron. Heron was a big part of helping the Tigers win the SEC championship a year ago, as he averaged 16.4 points and 5.3 rebounds. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard was a five-star recruit coming out of Sacred Heart High School in Waterbury, Connecticut in 2016. Through their first two games, this dynamic duo is combining to score 42 points per game. Rutgers does catch them at an inopportune time though, as the Red Storm’s only true big man, Sedee Keita, is on the shelf after having knee surgery recently. Marvin Clark, the Michigan State transfer, will be forced to play center, and he is just 6’7″.
With wins over Fairleigh Dickinson and Drexel already in their pocket, Rutgers has a chance to add a nice, early season, resume building victory to their ledger Friday. The question is… R they ready?