By Matt Sugam
PISCATAWAY – Rutgers men’s basketball hosted its annual media day today. With the most talent they’ve had in years, Rutgers was picked to finish 11th in the Big East. However, many think they’re a sleeping team in the Big East in Mike Rice’s third year. Here are the three main things to take away from today.
1. This is a stronger team.
Mike Rice made it a priority in the offseason. One of the team’s biggest problems last year was being pushed around during Big East play. So from eating right to the weight room, Rutgers changed its regimen. And it paid off. Across the board guys are bigger and stronger. After being bumped around in the most physical conference in the country last season, that shouldn’t be the case this year.
2. The frontcourt will be a lot better.
Rice said sophomores Kadeem Jack, Derrick Randall and Greg Lewis are the most improved players. Not to mention the addition of Wally Judge. The former high school All-American will anchor Rutgers frontcourt after sitting out last year due to his transfer from Kansas State. As for the three sophomores, Jack appears ready to live up to the hype he came in with. He was never quite comfortable coming off foot surgery midway through the season. Jack said the injury nagged him the seldom times he saw the floor. It’s not anymore and he feels that – along with his added strength and experience – will be the difference.
3. This is a much more mature team.
Rutgers was the third youngest team in the country last season. They had no scholarship seniors and a slew of talented freshmen. While the talent showed, so did the inexperience. But those freshmen are now sophomores. They’ve learned from the growing pains of last year. And now there are two seniors in Dane Miller and Austin Johnson who are hungry to get to post-season play.