Through the Rutgers Scarlet Knights didn’t appear to be dominant throughout the entirety of the game, they managed to persevere through the shooting droughts as they defeated the Howard Bisons (2-3), 85-63. Although the score resembles a dominating victory, the Scarlet Knights appeared to have their hands full with the Bisons early in the game.
Oddly in November, Jersey Mike's Arena was just as electric as it’s been in the past in mid-March. This only showed or has given the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (4-1) fans a preview of what’s to come later in the season. Scarlet Knights head coach Steve Pikiell mentioned how impressed he was with the crowd and how they helped affect the game. The luxury of having an atmosphere that can dictate the momentum of the game is pivotal in close games.
“We had a great crowd,” Pikiell states in a press conference. “I wish everybody a happy Thanksgiving. Again, I love the environment. I was nervous. This is a very talented team and Kenny does an excellent job. They went to the NCAA tournament last year and they’re picked to win their league.”
Biggest Takeaways for the Scarlet Knights
Early in the game, the Scarlet Knights struggled to find their rhythm offensively. The length and size of the Bisons forced Rutgers to rely on their shooting, unfortunately they couldn’t capitalize. In fact, until the 10-minute mark, the Scarlet Knights hadn’t had control of the lead. Once they realized they were struggling from the floor and continued to make costly turnovers, they pivoted into slowing the game down and getting to the free throw line.
“I think we turned the ball over six times, and then we had one turnover in the entire second half,” Pikiell states. “So, the last 15 minutes we didn’t turn the ball over, so we can’t score if we don’t get a shot up and we can’t rebound unless we get a shot up.”
“…I think it comes early in the season and gives Howard some credit for their lengthy athletic guys and they did a good job of making some things difficult for us,” he continued.
Sophomore guard Derek Simpson helped lead the charge by establishing aggressiveness and getting to the free-throw line with ease. As the game progressed, the Knights began to find their rhythm and eventually allowed their defensive play to lead into easy transition baskets. The Knights' offense also began to move the ball much more efficiently and effectively, ultimately making it tougher for the defense to defend.
“I think we've been practicing very well getting the ball off the floor, making the right reads,” Simpson emphasizes. “The hockey assists are something we work on every day. We tell guys, if you're gonna cut hard, cut to the other side, you're gonna get somebody else open. I think we still have a lot more cleaning up to do. We had 11 turnovers today. I think we're better than that as a team. So I think we've been doing great with that. We're gonna keep working on those numbers."
What’s Next for the Scarlet Knights
The Scarlet Knights are facing a nine-day break and then will take on the Saint Peter's Peacocks on November 27th. They should be well-rested and overly prepared for their neighboring opponents.
- Disappointing Season Finale for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights - November 27, 2023
- Derek Simpson wills Rutgers to dominating victory over Howard - November 20, 2023
- Rebounding by Committee for the Scarlet Knights Helps Secure Victory at Home - November 19, 2023