By Matt Sugam
PISCATAWAY – Wally Judge had heard it all second hand. Last year, he even witnessed it court side at the RAC as he was redshirting after his transfer from Kansas State.
The Big East is the best, most physical conference in the country. Not to mention its unparalleled history as a basketball conference.
So how does he like it just two games into finally playing in it?
“I love it. I love it because it’s just an amazing atmosphere,” Judge said after Monday’s practice. “You get to play in the Garden, and you get to go to New York and you get to go against great teams every night from Louisville to South Florida and it’s just an amazing conference and you see teams like Syracuse that dominate the country and you get to play a ranked opponent every night.”
And the 6-foot-9, 250-pound forward is banging around down low with some of the best big men in the country. Something he’s also thoroughly enjoying considering it takes him back to his roots of playing in the parks of Washington D.C.
“I love it because it takes you back to the street element of it,” Judge said. “It takes you back to playing in the park where you got to go through contact, where you got to challenge your big brother and things like that and I love the physicality.”
Which is good news for Rutgers (10-3, 1-1 Big East). Especially when they take on St. John’s (9-4, 1-1 Big East) at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night.
The Red Storm boast a 6-foot-9, 223-pound freshman in Chris Obekpa who is second in the country with blocks with 5.1 swatted shots a game.
“We have to be physical with him, and when we go up, go through his chin,” Judge said. “Not try to hurt him, but try to get our shots off because he’s a great shot blocker.”
Just one of many challenges that Judge – who has eight points and five rebounds in each of his first two Big East games – will face in his first go around in the conference.
And while he’s enjoying getting to play in the Big East for the the first time, whether or not it’s what he’s expected, or if it’s easier or harder than he thought it would be is not a thought that goes through his mind.
“I try not to over think it. I just look at is as basketball being basketball,” Judge said. “You have to lace them up just like they do and come to play.”