By Matt Sugam
Sitting in his office as night turned to the early morning, Mike Rice popped in the tape for the game against St. John’s his team just played, hoping to find his leading scorer Eli Carter’s porous performance was due to bad shot selection.
“I thought out of the 14 shots, Eli took one and a half bad shots. That’s pretty good for a scorer. They have to create,” Rice said today on the Big East conference call. “Sometimes the defense does a good job and it turns out to be a bad shot, but as far as last night as as I watched it I wanted to dislike what I saw because of his shooting percentage, but I didn’t. He attacked the rim, he attacked the basket, he played within the framework of the offense.”
The problem is, his shots weren’t falling. Of his 13 misses, seven were layups.
But Carter wasn’t the only one. Rutgers collectively missed 17 layups on the night.
“Tomorrow we’ll take out the pads and do finishing drills. It’s probably going to make me feel better more than it actually helps them,” Rice said. “But I watched the film last night twice and Eli Carter makes those lay ups.”
He didn’t against St. John’s as the 6-foot-2 guard has struggled mightily in three of the last five games.
“It’s just something that he in a young career as a leading scorer you got to swallow, you got to take it, but you got to forget it,” Rice said, adding, “those things happen. How you respond to them is a big question mark.”
Carter hasn’t reacted well thus far.
“Don’t let it affect his energy and his communication,” Rice said. “And we’ll look at a number of different things to get us out of this little slide that we’re in and there’s a lot that we can do.”
One of those things is have Carter come off the bench. It’s something he’s done four times this season, responding well every time.
“It’s helped him,” Rice said of Carter coming off the bench. “We’ll look at every aspect, including how hard we’re working in practice. That’s a big key with me, and again, getting comfortable. I think our guys are getting a little too comfortable whether it’s the rotation, their minutes, their shot selection, sometimes you got to wake them up and the bench, and minutes and shot attempts is one of those ways.”