By Matt Sugam
PISCATAWAY – After Rutgers shot 60 percent against UAB in David Cox’s first of three games as the interim head coach, he joked that it was due to a higher power.
“I would probably call that divine intervention,” Cox quipped. “Because I surely didn’t teach them to shoot that well in the last two days.”
But it’s something that carried over to the following game as the Scarlet Knights shot 60 percent against Howard. And shooting at a 60 percent clip in back-to-back games could be a new feat for Rutgers.
Dating back to the 1986-87 season, Rutgers hasn’t shot 60 percent in consecutive games. And it’s the first time since the 1998-1999 season that Rutgers shot 60 percent at least twice in a season.
“They seem a little more relaxed out there. They’re trusting each other a little bit more,” Cox said of the hot shooting after the Howard game. “Again, earlier in the year we were pigs, all trying to make the play. Now we’re trusting the play and trusting one another and we’re sharing the game.”
Something senior forward Austin Johnson agrees with.
“I feel like everyone’s just real comfortable right now and just wants to go out and play for one another,” Johnson said. “I feel like when you play for one another, it makes your job a lot easier.”
But it’s not just that the team is more at ease and playing selflessly. They’re also putting in the extra work needed to hit shots on a consistent basis.
“We’re staying in the gym. We’re coming in and getting up extra shots. We all want to be more efficient when we shoot,” forward Wally Judge said. “There’s a lot of talent spread out on this team, so a lot of guys get fewer shot attempts, so you’ve got to make the ones you get.”
Not to mention that when shots start falling, the basket seems like it gets bigger for players. Something Cox hopes remains the case for Rutgers when they take on Rider on Friday afternoon and then head into conference play.
“What happens is it’s usually contagious. When the ball goes in, that helps, and the ball has been consistently going in for us,” Cox said. “We’ll hopefully bottle that up and take it with us into Big East play.”