Beginning Monday, June 21st,
2004 CHN began unveiling 144 Team previews in 144 Days. CHN ranked the
nations top 144 teams, and is unveiling one per day leading up until the
opening day of the 2004-05 Season.
144 Teams in 144 Days home page, and check back
each day to see which team is previewed next.
#72 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
2003-04: 20-13, 7-9, 8th
2003-04 postseason: NIT
Going into the post season, the
Scarlet Knights weren’t looking too good. They lost three in a row,
including two games to Virginia Tech. Those three games were all very close
and demoralizing, but in that week off before the NIT, Gary Waters got his
squad ready to play. Rutgers came out and beat Temple, West Virginia,
Villanova and Iowa State before falling to Michigan in the NIT Finals. The
loss of much of the frontcourt will force some guys who didn’t play much
last year to step up. Adrian Hill is a solid post player, but little used
sophomore Bryon Joynes is the only other returning post player.
Who’s Out: It isn’t
necessarily the amount of forwards leaving, but the quality of those that
are, that makes the departure of this class so damaging. Herve Lamizana, a
6-10 forward, scored 13.4 points and led the squad with 7.6 rebounds per
game. Fellow starter Sean Axani averaged 5.6 points and 6.7 boards. Little
used Justin Piasecki is another big body that won’t be returning to New
Brunswick. Calvin Wooten, a 6-1 guard, is transferring after his sophomore
season. Wooten only played in 13 games, starting one, but could have made a
much bigger impact this year.
Who’s In: Luckily for
Rutgers’ fans there are some big bodies coming in. Jason Bees, a 7-0
center, is eligible for the 2004-2005 season after transferring from
Radford. Dan Waterstradt, an incoming freshman, is 6-10 and 210 pounds. He
has a nice touch for a big guy, but it remains to be seen if he can fight
underneath with the Big East competition. Ollie Bailey will add more
toughness under the basket. The 6-7, 225 pound Chicago native is a tough
and passionate player. Rounding out the class is point guard Manny Quezada.
Quezada won’t see much playing time this year with the deep guard position
at Rutgers, but will make an impact not too far down the road.
Who to Watch: One of those
great guards is Ricky Shields. The 6-4 guard led the squad in scoring last
year with 15.5 points. For his senior season, Shields will be the team
leader once again for the Scarlet Knights. With Adrian Hill under the
basket, defensives won’t be able to concentrate on just defending Shields.
He is a good shooter and can drain three-pointers with the best of them. Of
the 33 games played, Shields didn’t make a shot from behind the arc in just
two contests. His skills don’t stop on the offensive end. Shields is a
solid perimeter defender and averaged nearly a steal per outing last season.
Projected Conference Rank:
It won’t be as easy to rack up seven wins in the Big East this year. Just
about every team is better and the absence of Virginia Tech and Miami
doesn’t help. The frontcourt should come around by the end of the year, but
there will be some problems in the adjustment period. Adrian Hill, and the
other big guys that step in, have to stay out of foul trouble. Ninth place
in the Big East won’t be very bad this year. The Scarlet Knights could just
be a couple upsets away from a bubble team.
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