I was wrong
by Jon Newman
I feel like an apology is in order. Listeners to the podcast know that for a while now I’ve been saying that Rutgers men’s basketball was about to take the next step, That step in my mind, and as we discussed with NJ Hopps Maven Jerry Carino, was winning four-to-six Big Ten games and finish the season with 12-13 wins. As a long-time Rutgers fan who has experienced the great disappointments that all Rutgers fans experience I thought even that prediction would be tempting fate.
For that I truly apologize.
I thought I was safe early in the season watching the freshman growing pains. I mean who would have thought watching Caleb’s McConnell’s first game that he and his fellow freshman would not just develop into contributors but into difference makers.
There was St. John’s, Seton Hall, the win over an overrated Miami and the disaster at Rose Hill. I felt safe in my assessment heading into January, I even started wondering where those four league wins would come from. The Ohio State win at the RAC was fool’s gold I thought, especially with Eugene Omoruyi’s knee giving way. Then came the Minnesota/Purdue road armaggedon without him. And before he made he return against Nebraska, Rutgers was 1-6 in the league and I really started sweating.
I shouldn’t have.
As we look back a few years from now at the Rutgers program we may remember a player’s only meeting after Northwestern as not only the turning point of the 2018-19 season but as the turning point of the program - period.
Since then the Knights have gone 6-5 highlighted by a three-game winning streak and low-lighted by the prayer from the RAC corner against Iowa. Rutgers now goes ten deep with new heroes every night. No longer are they totally dependent on Omoyuti or Geo Baker. McConnell put up 25 in a tough road loss at Illinois, Montez Mathis slashes to the rim, Myles Johnson has become a BTN favorite and Ron Harper Jr. has discovered his three-point range to the tune of 27 in Iowa City. The freshman have arrived, a year early
So sorry I didn’t see that coming.
The dividends are already paying off. The RAC is packed. National media (except some dude in Minneapolis) are giving Steve Pikiell the credit he deserves with murmurs of Big Ten coach of the year accolades. In true Rutgers-fan fashion some are becoming overnight NIT bubble experts.
At the very least a .500 season is in reach. Split the last two and then win one in Chicago and that happens.
I’m sorry. I just didn’t see that. And I’ve never been so happy to apologize.
In case you have yet to listen, here’s episode 25 with our guest Mike Greengarten. Enjoy.