10 of 24! That’s the only stat line that needs attention from Tuesday night’s game.
Rutgers once again played hard in front of more that 17,0000 fans vs. Maryland at the Xfinity Center. A very active defense and strong rebounding kept them in the game. Missing 14 foul shots kept them out. Which is a by product of the bigger problem. They don’t have shooters. Desire, effort, tenacity, yes. But if the ball doesn’t go through the hoop, you’re not beating anybody.
And once again, though many believe they have no business hanging with a team like Maryland on their floor, Rutgers not only hung with them, they could have won. Take a lousy free throw shooting night and turn it into a good one, say 20 of 24 and you have a 2 point game. I know…”if if’s and buts were sugar and nuts”. I’m just emphasizing the fact that missed free throws are killing this team. As of last night, they are shooting 62% for the season. Which brings us to a tough question. Can shooting be coached? Well, put it this way, Candido Sa or Issa Thiam will not wake up tomorrow and start pouring in 15 to 20 foot jumpers. At the college level, a player’s outside shot is pretty much what it is. So you really can’t put this on Pikiell. I’m sure they have had extra reps in practice, but he can’t go to the line and shoot for them.
However, shooting problems or not, I love the heart of this team. I can’t say it enough that despite shortcomings, their effort is impressive. They don’t give up and their defense and rebounding keeps them in games. Which makes those missed fouls shots all the more tough to take.