Thursday, October 15, 2009

Preview 2009-10 -- Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Too Busy for the Details?
The Scarlet Knights say goodbye to three frequent senior starters and a promising sophomore, but they bring back prolific shooter Mike Rosario, and two bigs. The question is whether Echenique and N'Diaye will be used as inside scorers or whether they will be rebounders. Mike Rosario proved to be a dangerous scorer his freshman season, but has Coach Hill another scorer or two who can draw some defensive attention? And a floor general who can direct the attack and setup the scorers? Prognosis -- A 4th quartile finish.

3 Years At a Glance
Despite different levels returning minutes, the Scarlet Knights' record, season-over-season, has changed very little (well, it actually declined modestly). The program may have attracted a better level of talent, but that has yet to translate into more wins.


The 2009 Rutgers team returned 86% of their minutes and over 90% of their 2008 scoring, but advanced a single spot in the Big East standings (largely because they stepped aside as DePaul plunged to the sidewalk) even as they lost one more game than 2008. Corey Chandler's late summer dismissal, aside from the loss of additional minutes and experience (about another 10% reduction), will hit hardest in 3 point shooting. Chandler took another 14% off the returning 3FGMs when he packed his bags.

According to Pomeroy...
Overall ORtg96.824195.2283100.0198
Overall DRtg94.96395.474102.0192
Big East ORtg91.81688.41691.615
Big East DRtg106.411105.412106.013
Four Factors --
All Off. eFG%46.327944.732343.4326
All Off. TOv%22.929522.124120.3112
All Off. OReb%34.410931.622534.5139
All Off. FTA/FGA32.128334.622638.6124
All Def. eFG%46.04347.77051.1216
All Def. TOv%17.631918.628919.0276
All Def. OReb%32.616233.822033.6176
All Def. FTA/FGA32.89127.41833.195
Four Factors --
BE Off. eFG%45.01345.21542.116
BE Off. TOv%22.81622.51517.74
BE Off. OReb%33.31228.21632.110
BE Off. FTA/FGA23.31632.21435.29
BE Def. eFG%50.81150.41249.712
BE Def. TOv%17.91117.61316.515
BE Def. OReb%32.8633.2932.65
BE Def. FTA/FGA37.41129.8334.69
All Gms Cons22.626521.722221.4206
All Gms Luck-.083323+.011115+.04158

The greatest challenge for Head Coach Fred Hill over the course of his tenure on the Banks of the Old Raritan, has been to develop an offense that can consistently convert possessions into points. Quincy Douby's exit at the end of Gary Waters Era left the Scarlet Knights with a few prospects, but no proven scorers. While freshman phenom Mike Rosario, an off guard out of St. Anthony's Jersey City, NJ) averaged () 16.2 points per game, the Knights still cannot push their points per possession (ppp) over the 1.0 threshold -- for conference games they managed just about 0.92 ppp. Not good, especially when they yield about 1.06 ppp.

For the Record...
Big East2160.1113150.1673130.188
Post Season?BET/Rnd 1NoNo

The Scarlet Knight's Nucleus
Coach Fred Hill lost three players who started games throughout their four year careers. He will miss point guard Anthony Farmer, a hard worker who struggled his first 2 seasons, but became a steadying influence his last 2. Sophomore Earl Pettis, another rotation player who made progress, transferred to La Salle in May, and junior Corey Chandler a scoring guard who has been looking for a spot on the floor, was dismissed in August. Coach Hill brings in 4 new players, which when combined with his returning players (a nucleus of 5, 3 guards and 2 front court players), he hopes will turn Rutgers around. The squad won't be any deeper than the 2009 Knights, will it be better?

On Offense

Mike Rosario took 1 in 3 of the Scarlet Knights' FGAs when he was on the floor. The Rutgers' offense became too easy to defend -- shut down Rosario (note his ORtg...95.8) and squeeze off the passing lanes to Enchenique (or N'Diaye), thus leaving Chandler (departed over the summer) or Mike Coburn to take the shot. Neither was particularly successful, as Coburn converted at a 41.7% efficiency, and Chandler at an even less efficient 37%. There may come a time when Rosario can be both prolific and efficient, but it would be a lot easier if Rutgers had another (or two other) consistent scoring options. Both Enchenique and N'Diaye performed above the team efficiency, but neither had many scoring opportunities (how of their collective points developed from low post entry passes and how many came from putbacks).

On Defense
Mike Rosario80.97.511.
Gregory Echenique70.720.64.516.88.11.5
Hamady N'Diaye58.019.33.627.38.91.2
Mike Coburn46.18.323.

The lack of offfense was difficult enough to overcome, but the Scarlet Knights saboutaged their themselves time and again with high turnover rates. Note Coburn's 34.0% and N'Diaye's 27.3% turnover rates. It could have been worse; they might have logged as many possessions as Rosario and Enchenique. The Knights can really use a distributing point guard who can hit a shot or two.

Significant Additions
Coach Fred Hill brings in a mixed bag of transfers (1), JUCOs (1) and true freshmen (3). First the transfer -- 6-7, 225lb Jonathan Mitchell, a #3 who transferred in from Florida. Eligible from the start of the 2009-10 season, Mitchell will step into the wing rotation, largely vacated by the departure of Jaron Griffen and Earl Pettis, most likely splitting time with sophomore Patrick Jackson, a 3rd guard or one of the freshman forwards. Next the JUCO -- 6-2, 190 lb James Beatty, a nationally recognized point guard out of Miami-Dade CC, signed on with the Scarlet Knights in July 2009, might be Coach Hill's most important recruit. Brought in to replace departed senior Anthony Farmer, Beatty, a pass-first point guard with a shooting touch, should have the experience to organize and run an offense more sophisticated than "pass the ball to Rosario and watch for the rebound". Finally the true freshmen -- Brian Okam, a 7-0 #5 out of Florida may be the highest rated of the 3. He will play behind N'Diaye. 6-7 #3 Dane Miller out of Rochester, NY and 6-7 #4 Austin Johnson, a Blair Academy (NJ) graduate may find the court in a few of the early games.

Explode If...
1. JUCO James Beatty exceeds expectations for the point guard spot. When Rosario handled the ball on virtually every possession, Rutgers' offense stalled. Assuming Rosario can find space without the ball, Beatty should be able to find him. Not on every possession, but on enough to make him efficient.
2. Echenique and N'Diaye are very good rebounders, but the Scarlet Knights' shooters were not especially accurate. The two big guys need to continue to get rebounds, but they should either convert (Echnenique could improve here, but N'Diaye, at 10.8% of the shots, has to cut down on his turnovers and shoot instead) or find the open shooter for another attempt.
3. There were not enough scorers on the floor last season. Rutgers has to find another scorer or two, either from the returning players (not a good bet), or from the transfers/true freshmen. Dane Miller? Jonathan Mitchell? Bueller? Bueller? Oh, and everyone has to stay healthy.

Implode If...
1. Coach Hill's job status becomes the most talked about element of the Rutgers. Nothing saps morale faster than talk of a change in staff.
2. The bench is thin. Injury or discipline issues can reduce the rotation even further, thus grinding down the starters and other members of the rotation. If the returning players cannot produce a third/fourth scorer, the chances of finding the right player among a very small pool of transfers/JUCOs/true freshmen is far from certain.

Crucial Run/Bellweather Games
The Scarlet Knights host two opponents as a regional site for the Legends Classic before going to Atlantic City to play UMass in one of two semi-final games scheduled for Boardwalk Hall. They will play either Michigan State or Florida in the second game (Championship/Consolation, depending on the outcome of their semi-final game). While the Legends field has been announced (1 team TBA), it is not clear which two of Cornell, Drexel, Georgia Southern, Troy, Toledo, Valparaiso or Vermont they will host. My guess is probably Cornell and Drexel (the two closest oppponents), though Vermont might be an easier game for them than Cornell. [Late note -- Rutgers' regional opponents will be Drexel and Vermont. The Knights will play the Dragons Friday 11/20 and the Catamounts Sunday 11/22, both games at the RAC in Piscataway] A game against Florida might be a useful predictor for Big East play, as the OragneRutgers will travel to Chapel Hill to run their series with UNC to 4 games. The margin of victory in their first three most recent meetings were -39, -22 and -22. I guess anything under -20 will be progress.

The Knights open their Big East schedule by hosting the Bearcats of Cincinnati, a team many expect to move up in the conference this season. If Rutgers is to nurture any hopes of escaping the Big East's bottom quartile, it has to start with a decent homecourt record, and that starts with Cincinnati. The game is not a must win for the Knights, but they need to show progress. Their best home win opportunities come with a young Syracuse squad (1/13/10), a Notre Dame squad that historically doesn't "travel well" (1/30/10), followed immediately by a St. John's squad that returns a lot of minutes, but also struggles to score (2/2/10), and during their final home stand when they host the DePaul Demons (2/27/10) followed by Seton Hall (3/4/10). If the Knights are to finish #12 or higher, they will have to take at least 4 of those games, coupled with at least two from their road games. The best opportunities among the road opponents come early in the season, first at Providence (1/9/10), followed in the next week with a trip to Tampa to play the Bulls (1/16/10). The Knights will travel to Milwaukee to play Marquette at the end of January (1/26/10), followed by a second Midwest swing in February to visit DePaul (2/16/10). The Knights need at least 2 of those games, very difficult for a program that has never traveled well in conference.


Ray said...

The Legends Classic field has been complete for quite some time. The link below should be helpful.

greyCat said...

Thanks Ray, I had not checked the Legends site since late August/early September. The Scarlet Knights got a good home draw with Drexel and Vermont. Time and distance, I thought they would most likely draw Cornell. They should have an easier time with Vermont, though American East POY candidate Marques Blakely will be a handful.