New York Colleges: Rutgers Scarlet Knights

W2W4: St. John's at Rutgers

January, 23, 2013
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Here are three things to watch for when St. John's (11-7, 3-3 Big East) faces Rutgers (12-5, 3-3 Big East) on Wednesday at the Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway, N.J.

Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m., and you can watch the game locally on SNY.

TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT: These two teams met at Madison Square Garden two weeks ago, with Rutgers pulling out a 58-56 win. Last season, Rutgers defeated St. John's 61-58 at the RAC. Two years ago, these teams also played twice -- St. John's won both, 58-56 at Carnesecca Arena, and 65-63 at Madison Square Garden in the Big East tournament. This game will likely go down to the wire.

It's also a critical game standings-wise, with St. John's and Rutgers among five teams tied for sixth in the Big East. The latest edition of ESPN.com's Bracketology has seven Big East teams making the NCAA Tournament, with the Red Storm and Scarlet Knights looking to climb into that group.

St. John's has won two in a row, 67-63 versus Notre Dame and 71-62 at DePaul. Rutgers is coming off a 69-66 loss at Notre Dame.

FRESH PRINCE: St. John's forward Jakarr Sampson was just named the Big East rookie of the week for the fourth time this season. Sampson is second on the team in scoring (13.6 ppg) and first in rebounding (6.6 rpg) -- leading all Big East freshmen in both categories. He has scored in double figures in 15 his past 16 games.

Sampson's overall numbers aren't far behind those of Moe Harkless, who averaged 15.3 points and 8.6 rebounds last season, en route to winning the Big East Rookie of the Year award and being selected 15th overall in the NBA draft. But Harkless had some breakout performances, like his 32 points and 13 rebounds against Providence, and his 30-point, 13-rebound effort at Duke. Sampson's season high is 22 points, and he has only reached the 20-point plateau three times. Is he capable of a monster game or two down the stretch, like Harkless? Time will tell.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Rutgers is shooting 74.5 percent as a team from the foul line, ranking 31st in the country. The Scarlet Knights' top two scorers, sophomore guards Eli Carter (16.2 ppg) and Myles Mack (12.9 ppg) are shooting 89.3 and 92.9 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, St. John's is shooting 62.4 percent from the foul line, ranking 321st out of 347 Division I teams. And the Red Storm made just 15 of 27 free throws in that two-point loss to Rutgers on Jan. 9.

Sometimes the game isn't that complicated. Two evenly matched teams play, and the one that shoots better at the foul line wins. Rutgers clearly has the advantage here.

But there is hope for St. John's. The Red Storm made 12 of 15 from the charity stripe in their upset of Notre Dame eight days ago.

Rutgers hangs on, tops Iona at MSG

December, 9, 2012
12/09/12
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Myles MackAnthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY SportsRutgers guard Myles Mack drives through the lane for the score against Iona on Saturday night.

Something crazy almost happened at Madison Square Garden late Saturday night.

Rutgers, with a 22-point lead midway through the second half, almost blew a game against Iona. But the Scarlet Knights held on to win, 81-73, in the nightcap of the MSG Holiday Festival.

“Well, that was fun,” said Rutgers coach Mike Rice to open his postgame news conference, the sarcasm practically dripping off his lips.

The Scarlet Knights led 35-23 at halftime, and expanded that lead to 66-44 with 10:32 remaining in the game. That’s when the Gaels made their move, launching a furious rally to get within one point, 70-69, with 2:35 left.

In fact, Iona had a great chance to take the lead on its next possession, but Rutgers forward Wally Judge had a brilliant block on a lay-up attempt by Iona’s Taaj Ridley. That ignited a Scarlet Knights fast break, capped off by a Myles Mack layup. The Gaels never got over the hump.

“We told them in every timeout, they’re not going away. They’re gonna push,” Rice said. “We certainly bent, but didn’t break.”

Both Rice and his players agreed that Rutgers made a big mistake by trying to run with Iona in the final minutes. The result? Twenty-five Scarlet Knight turnovers.

“We started playing like they played, and I think that was bad for us,” said Mack, who had a team-high 19 points.

“They’re a good basketball team,” said Rice, of Iona. “They’re a great offensive basketball team.”

Yes, Iona can score -- the Gaels were ranked 25th in the country in scoring, at 79.5 points per game. But they couldn’t outscore Rutgers, which shot the ball well from the field (30-for-62, 48.4 percent) and outrebounded Iona 47-29 (17-9 on the offensive glass).

“They wore us down a little bit on the inside,” said Iona coach Tim Cluess. “We don’t have those kind of horses that they have in there.”

“But I’m really, really proud of my team for how hard they fought to get back in this game,” added Cluess. “They could have laid down and died, and they gave it everything they could.”

Rutgers, picked to finish 11th in the Big East this season, is now 5-2 on the young season.

“Consistency, not getting in your own way, is a general theme with this team,” said Rice. “If they just make simple plays, and share the game, I think this team can be very good.”

Iona, which was picked to finish third in the MAAC, dropped to 3-4.

“We’ll add a nice 6-8, 240-pound piece in a week and a half that’s going to help us a lot,” said Cluess, referring to David Laury, who will become eligible later this month. “I like our future with this group.”

The Gaels are coming off an at-large NCAA tournament bid last spring. When asked about making the tournament this season after the game, junior guard Sean Armand boldy said, “We’re gonna make the tournament.”

Senior guard Momo Jones, who scored a game-high 26 on Saturday, had a different perspective.

“The tournament is what, four months away?” Jones said. “We’re not worried about that. We’re worried about getting better, every day.”

Only time will tell, for both these teams.

Rutgers falls short on big stage

November, 30, 2012
11/30/12
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PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- On the verge of making history, Rutgers let it all slip away.

With its first Big East championship and a first-ever BCS bowl bid on the line, the Scarlet Knights blew a 14-3 halftime lead and lost to Louisville on Thursday, 20-17.

Rutgers (9-3, 5-2 Big East) now has to settle for sharing the conference title with Louisville, Syracuse, and possibly Cincinnati. But the coveted BCS bid, which will be determined by the final BCS standings, will almost certainly go to the Cardinals.

“I think we have a football team right now that’s hurting,” said Rutgers coach Kyle Flood. “They poured their lives into this season, and they fought extremely hard today.

“Unfortunately we didn’t do it well enough. That’s the reality of today. But the effort and the emotion that was poured into that game -- right now their hearts are ripped out.”

[+] EnlargeRutgers coach Kyle Flood
Cal Sport Media via AP Images"I think we have a football team right now that's hurting," Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said.
For much of the evening, it looked like Rutgers’ night, in front of a sellout home crowd of 52,798. The Scarlet Knights jumped in front thanks to two long touchdown passes by sophomore quarterback Gary Nova. The first, on Rutgers’ very first offensive play, went for 85 yards to wideout Brandon Coleman. The second totaled 68 yards, to fellow wide receiver Mark Harrison.

But the game turned dramatically in the final minute of the third quarter, when Louisville scored a pair of touchdowns in just 16 seconds.

First, the Cardinals capped off a 90-yard drive with a 14-yard TD pass from Teddy Bridgewater to Jeremy Wright. Rutgers’ Jeremy Deering fumbled the ensuing kickoff, Louisville recovered, and two plays later the Cardinals were back in the end zone, courtesy of a 20-yard connection between Bridgewater and DeVante Parker.

“We were never able to really swing the momentum back, and that’s my job, so I take responsibility for that,” Flood said.

Bridgewater completed 20 of 28 passes for 263 yards, despite playing with a broken wrist in his non-throwing hand and a sprained ankle. He didn’t start the game, and Louisville coach Charlie Strong wasn’t even sure he would play.

“They have a tremendous playmaker at the quarterback position,” said Flood. “And at the end of the game, and even during the game, he made some great plays, and we just weren’t able to match.”

Trailing 20-17 with less than two minutes left, Rutgers had the ball, with a chance to tie or win the game. But on first-and-10 from their own 48, Nova and Coleman had a miscommunication, resulting in a pass lofted down the right sideline with no Scarlet Knight in sight.

Louisville cornerback Terell Floyd dived to haul in the ball, effectively ending the game, in stunning fashion.

“That was my fault,” said a red-eyed Nova in a somber Rutgers locker room. “That’s all that needs to be said.”

A year ago, Rutgers had a chance to clinch a share of the Big East title for the very first time in the final game of the regular season. But the Scarlet Knights were routed at UConn, 40-22.

This loss is even more disappointing, with a likely spot in the Orange or Sugar Bowl at stake -- an opportunity to play a powerhouse program, in the national spotlight.

The setup couldn’t have been better Thursday -- playing at home, against a team with a banged-up QB. The New York City sports radio airwaves were buzzing about college football for a change. And the Empire State Building was lit red for the occasion.

But the Scarlet Knights came up short one more time.

“We had an opportunity here,” said senior D-lineman Scott Vallone. “It just stinks that it didn’t turn out our way.”

Nine days ago, Rutgers announced a move from the Big East to the Big Ten, beginning in 2014. There are exciting days ahead in Piscataway.

But that doesn’t erase the sting of the most disappointing loss in school history.

“It’s a tough one to swallow,” said Coleman. “This one hurts.”
Eric LeGrand isn't the only Rutgers player to sign with an NFL team in recent days.

Four other Scarlet Knights who went undrafted in last week's NFL Draft have signed free agent contracts: fullback Joe Martinek (Giants), offensive linemen Desmond Stapleton (Steeleres) and Desmond Wynn (Buccaneers), and defensive lineman Justin Francis (Patriots).

They hope to join wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, the third-round pick of the Bengals, in the NFL next season.

Tampa Bay Bucs sign Eric LeGrand

May, 2, 2012
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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, under former Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano, signed Eric LeGrand to a contract on Wednesday.

LeGrand is the former Rutgers defensive tackle who was paralyzed in a game against Army back in 2010.

Click here to read more.

Rutgers' Sanu drafted by Bengals

April, 27, 2012
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Former Rutgers wide receiver Mohamed Sanu was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the third round of the NFL draft on Friday night.

Sanu was the 83rd player selected overall. Ironically, he went to the team that Sanu thought had picked him in the first round on Thursday night, which turned out to be a hoax.

Click here to read more.

Rutgers hoops signs Vincent Garrett

April, 26, 2012
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Rutgers men's basketball coach Mike Rice has added another player to the mix for next season.

Vincent Garrett, a 6-foot-5 wing player originally from Chicago, has signed to play for the Scarlet Knights starting in 2012-13.

Garrett averaged 16 points and 6 rebounds per game for Lee College in Baytown, Texas, last season as a sophomore. He will have two years of eligibility at Rutgers.

“Signing Vincent was a priority for us this recruiting period, and we are thrilled to welcome him into the program,” said Rice in a statement. “He is a very gifted athlete with the ability to score the ball at many levels. Vincent is also a mature young man who has developed and excelled due to a tremendous work ethic.”

Rutgers drops home game to Villanova

March, 2, 2012
3/02/12
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Rutgers couldn't keep the momentum going from their big win over Seton Hall last Saturday, losing at home to Villanova on Thursday night, 77-71.

The Scarlet Knights were down 16 at halftime, fought back to cut the deficit to a single point on two occasions, but couldn't quite get over the hump.

Rutgers (13-17, 5-12 Big East) wraps up the regular season on Saturday night against St. John's, again at the RAC.

Rutgers assistant coaches leave for NFL

March, 2, 2012
3/02/12
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New Rutgers head football coach Kyle Flood is already having to remake his coaching staff, just a month after being hired.

Three of his assistants are headed to the NFL, including two joining former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- click here to read more.

Flood is already facing a big challenge, serving as a head coach for the first time. Now the challenge just got even tougher.

Schiano comments on Rutgers at combine

February, 24, 2012
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Former Rutgers football coach Greg Schiano, now the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, spoke about his former program Thursday while at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.

These quotes come from ESPNNewYork.com colleague Ohm Youngmisuk:

* On the new Rutgers head coach, Kyle Flood, his former assistant: "He will do a great job. I don’t know all the guys that he has hired. I couldn’t even tell you, I haven’t had time to really check. I know the guys that stayed. Those guys that have been there are tremendous coaches and staff members. I think Kyle is as bright and as caring a guy as you are going to find and a really good football coach. So there are really good players in the program. I think they were able to hang on to most of the recruits."

* On the Rutgers football program as a whole: "We took that program, let’s just say it was what it was and it took a while to build and get things going. I think the program is at a great jumping-off point. And when Kyle does that, it is going to be his program and his accomplishments. I think the thing is just going to go like that. To me that is what leadership is, true leadership isn’t just leading your organization but leaving a legacy and I do feel like that. I am proud of the coaches and players and administrators that are still there now that are moving the program forward."

* On wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, who left Rutgers a year early to enter the NFL draft: "I'm very, very fond of Mohamed as a person. He’s a tremendous guy and he’s a special football player. He single-handedly won games for us. That one catch he made against South Florida on his back, one-hand tip it to himself, there are not a lot of guys I have seen do that. There is going to be a team that is very fortunate to get Mohamed on their club."

Big East football -- a whole new world

February, 22, 2012
2/22/12
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It's never too early to look ahead to the fall and the upcoming college football season, which figures to be a very interesting one around here.

Rutgers has never won a Big East championship, and has never even been the preseason favorite, but the Scarlet Knights could be this year, writes ESPN.com's Andrea Adelson.

Spring practice, under new head coach Kyle Flood, begins on March 27. And one of the key questions is, who will win the starting quarterback competition -- Chad Dodd, or Gary Nova?

Here's your chance Rutgers fans -- who do you want under center next season? Leave a comment below.

Rutgers gives Syracuse a serious challenge

February, 19, 2012
2/19/12
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PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers lost its fifth game in a row on Sunday -- but the Scarlet Knights get an “A” for Effort.

Facing No. 2-ranked Syracuse, the Scarlet Knights hung right with the Orange for 37 minutes before ultimately losing 74-64 in front of a packed crowd at the RAC.

“I thought as far as the fight, and the compete, it was probably one of the more consistent games we’ve had in the last month,” said Rutgers coach Mike Rice. “[We] just didn’t finish plays.”

The Scarlet Knights attacked Syracuse’s trademark 2-3 zone beautifully, entering the ball into the middle at the high post and working from there. Sophomore forward Gilvydas Biruta had a monster game, with 21 points (tying his career high) and seven rebounds.

But the perimeter players weren't nearly as effective. Leading scorer Eli Carter shot just 3-for-13 from the field, and the team shot just 3-for-18 from the 3-point line.

Jim O'Connor/US PresswireGilvydas Biruta (left) and C.J. Fair both scored 21 points on Sunday.


On the other side, forward C.J. Fair came up big for Syracuse, with 21 points and eight rebounds off the bench. And senior point guard Scoop Jardine was the difference-maker down the stretch. With 2:42 remaining and Syracuse leading by just two, 64-62, Jardine drained a jumper to extend the lead to four. Then he delivered the dagger, a trey with 1:12 left to make it 69-62 and essentially seal Rutgers’ fate.

“Scoop made the plays down the stretch -- that’s what you would hope [for] from a senior guard,” said Syracuse coach Jim Boehiem.

“They have an unfair advantage with another college basketball coach in Scoop Jardine running the point,” said Rice. “Just so composed, and understanding of what he wants to do.”

In comparison, Rutgers started three freshmen guards on Sunday, who faced a huge gap in terms of experience compared with Jardine and and his backcourt mate, junior Brandon Triche. Rice thought that showed up at the free throw line -- Syracuse was 21-for-31 from the charity stripe, Rutgers just 9-for-11.

“Whether it was penetration, getting to the basket, drawing the contact -- this team still has young bodies and young minds, and in the Big East you have to seek that contact,” Rice said. “So the free throw disparity hurts, and settling for probably too many jump shots.”

Sophomore guard Mike Poole, who was the only other Scarlet Knight in double figures with 10 points off the bench, would not blame the loss on inexperience. “These guys have played 28 games, they’re not freshmen no more,” Poole said. “It’s just not capitalizing on the shots we need to make, and not finishing the plays we need to finish.”

Poole wasn’t buying the moral victory argument, either. “Every game we lose, it just feels the same,” he said. “When you fight so hard, to come up short, it takes a lot out of you.”

Boeheim, although complimentary of Jardine and Fair, was not thrilled with his team, either, despite the Orange improving to 27-1 overall, 14-1 in the Big East.

“I don’t think we’re playing the way we have to,” Boeheim said. “I thought at the beginning of the year we had some really good [offensive] movement in games. We really, I thought, were playing a lot better, particularly on offense.”

When asked to explain why he thinks his team is underperforming of late, the coach pointed the finger at Dion Waiters. The 6-foot-4 sophomore has been arguably the best sixth man in the country this season, but has only scored in double figures twice in the team’s past seven games, including just seven points on Sunday.

“I think Dion’s struggled a little bit,” Boeheim said. “He really hasn’t been shooting the ball very well. And I think he’s probably struggled the most.”

Nevertheless, Syracuse likely has several more weeks of basketball to look forward to, with the Orange expected to play deep into March and contend for another national championship.

As for Rutgers? Year 2 of the Mike Rice era certainly hasn’t gone exactly as he'd hoped -- the Scarlet Knights are now 12-15 overall, 4-10 in conference play.

But there is reason for optimism here. Rutgers doesn’t have any seniors. Rice started three freshmen and a sophomore on Sunday, and went toe-to-toe with arguably the best team in the country.

And that’s no fluke. This young squad already owns two wins against Top 25 opponents this season -- something St. John’s hasn’t been able to accomplish, for instance. These guys seem to play better the bigger the stage.

“I think that’s growth,” Rice said. “Unfortunately in the Big East, growth doesn’t always mean victories.”

Rapid Reaction: Syracuse 74, Rutgers 64

February, 19, 2012
2/19/12
3:06
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PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- A quick take on Rutgers' 74-64 loss to Syracuse on Sunday afternoon at the Louis Brown Athletic Center, a game much closer than the final score indicates.

WHAT IT MEANS: Rutgers gave Syracuse a heck of a fight at a packed RAC, but couldn't quite take out the No. 2-ranked Orange. It's the Scarlet Knights' fifth straight loss, which drops them to 12-15 overall, and 4-10 in Big East play.

Syracuse survives a scare in a tough road environment, and improves to 27-1 overall, 14-1 in the Big East.

THE SKINNY: The first 20 minutes were tight, with neither team leading by more than six. Tied at 32 with three minutes remaining, Syracuse ended the half on an 8-2 run to make it 40-34 at intermission. Rutgers forward Gilvydas Biruta had 14 first-half points, but he was matched by Syracuse forward C.J. Fair, who had 14 off the bench.

Syracuse extended the lead to seven, 46-39, early in the second half. But Rutgers responded with five straight points, and the game remained close until the final three minutes. With Syracuse leading 64-62, Scoop Jardine hit a jumper to extend the lead to four with 2:42 left. Then Jardine delivered the dagger, a trey with 1:12 left that made it 69-62, and the Orange closed it out from there.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Biruta was a monster for Rutgers in this game, finishing with a team-high 21 points and seven rebounds, shooting 9-for-14 from the field. Mike Poole was the only other Scarlet Knight in double figures, with 10 points off the bench.

Syracuse's Dion Waiters has probably been the best sixth man in the country this season, but today his fellow reserve, Fair, was the star. The 6-foot-8 sophomore had 21 points and eight rebounds -- 6-for-8 from the field, 8-for-8 on free throws. And Jardine, the senior point guard, was huge down the stretch, finishing with 17 points and seven assists.

NUMBER CRUNCH: In a pretty even game, the glaring difference was on the foul line. Syracuse outscored Rutgers 21-9 at the charity stripe -- and the Orange missed 10 free throws as well. Syracuse was 21-for-31, while Rutgers was 9-for-11.

WHAT'S NEXT: Rutgers faces a very tough road game, at No. 13 Marquette (22-5, 11-3 Big East) on Wednesday at 8 p.m. Syracuse hosts South Florida (16-10, (9-4 Big East) the same night at 7 p.m.

Rutgers football to play Arkansas

February, 17, 2012
2/17/12
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Rutgers announced Friday that it has agreed to play a home-and-home football series with Arkansas.

The Scarlet Knights will play the Razorbacks in Fayetteville this coming season, on Sept. 22. Arkansas will return the favor by playing in Piscataway on Sept. 21, 2013.

"It is a constant priority to secure marquee scheduling opportunities for our football program and our fans," said Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti in a statement. "This home-and-home series with Arkansas clearly illustrates another enhancement of that strategy. We are excited to have the Razorbacks as the first-ever SEC opponent to play at High Point Solutions Stadium and this agreement further enhances our future non-conference game schedule which includes Penn State, Miami and UCLA."

The Scarlet Knights' 2012 schedule is still incomplete. Rutgers has to add one more opponent to its schedule, with the departure of West Virginia from the Big East.

Rutgers lands remarkable recruiting class

February, 1, 2012
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Rutgers and new head coach Kyle Flood received letters of intent from 18 high school players on Wednesday, a.k.a. National Signing Day, in what many people regard as the strongest recruiting class in Rutgers history.

ESPN ranked it the No. 25 class in the country.

"It is the top-recruiting class we've had here at Rutgers and we are very proud of it," Flood said in his news conference on Wednesday afternoon.

The group is headlined by 6-foot-4, 260-pound defensive end Darius Hamilton out of Don Bosco Prep in West Paterson, N.J., the son of former New York Giant Keith Hamilton, and ranked No. 69 in the ESPNU 150.

Despite losing head coach Greg Schiano to the NFL last week, and only officially hiring Flood on Tuesday, Rutgers lost just one recruit who had previous verbally committed to the Scarlet Knights: tight end Michael Giacone, who wound up signing with Boston College.

Click here for more info on the Rutgers class.

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