GAME 2 Sacred Heart: Zesty Exuberance

bac2therac

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How many superlatives can we shower Rutgers with after their performance in the first two games. If you thought the Columbia win was impressive, then how about tonight for an encore and then some. RU had a 9 minute stretch vs Columbia where they were outscored 16-4 in an otherwise smothering performance against an overmatched opponent. Their play tonight vs Sacred Heart was scintillating and basically flawless. This one hit all the checkmarks. My biggest is takeway is the eagerness and effusiveness in trying get a win against a weak opponent and keeping focused on their task with no visible letdown. These early season games have been difficult at times for this program. I said last game I thought last years team was sort of stale and didnt have the taste buds for these non conference games. Its a stark contrast to what looks like a really hungry playing with such exuberance and zest. And make no mistake this isnt just a few players, this is the entire TEAM. Everyone seems locked in and loaded. Does it mean we are winning the Biog 10? No but its showing a glimpse into the character and identity of the team. Bumps in the road will come and RU is probably two games away from facing any real adversity but they are showing all the right signs

Options, options, options. How many options this year compared to last. What I was looking for at the beginning of the game was a breakout game from either Hyatt or Mag. Both are starters with Caleb out, one will get the starting job. They both have different skill sets but neither one has ever been counted on to be nothing more than role players in the previous season. Their challenge this year is to take the step up and become main cogs in the spinning wheel. Hyatt in particular was a bit frustrating last year. We would see some good things but followed up by the usual turnovers or bad decision making on offense. Well tonight Aundre stepped up as a man. 19 points on 5-7 shooting in just 20 minutes, 7-7 at the line and 2-3 from 3. We can overlook the 3 turnovers. Hyatt was in control tonight and he was confident on both ends of the court. This was a perfect time for him to flaunt his game and prove he can fill some of the void left by Ron Harper Jr. He does not have to be NBA Ron. He just needs to assert himself and get his. Hyatt could be a matchup problem for most teams but he isnt even going to be a first or 2nd scoring option.

Cam Spencer what else can we say about King Cam. Another game another flurry of action where he was money on both ends. 15 of his 18 came in the first half, 6-10 shooting, 3=6 from 3-3 at the line, 3 more steals and whopping 6 assists and no turnovers.... but get this...tied with Cliff for team high rebounds at 7. An incredible stat line. Its only been 2 games but it seems like Cam has been her for a few years. His vision, court awareness and quiet confidence is off the charts. Not even sure when if ever Rutgers had a player like him...perhaps Dadika??

Lets just say I am glad that Cliff finally got to flaunt his moves as this game wore on. Cliff was relative quiet vs Columbia and I was okay with that because that game wasnt about him. Tonight, Cliff was double and denied early and RU went elsewhere and Cliffs teammates stepped up. Then it was time to get Cliff involved. He ended up with 17 points on 8-13 fg and I liked he once again knocked down a side jumper. Yes Sacred Heart didnt have the size to stop him but its still important for Cliff to feel comfortable being one of the go to guys and I believe Cliff will be more heavily guarded than he was last season.

What is truly impressive is that all 3 players above look in sync and thats mainly because of what Paul is bringing to the table concentrating more on distributing the ball right now. Paul's shot isnt really falling right now, just 1-6 but his value right now is running this team. Paul had 6 assists, 4 steals and 5 rebounds and not having Geo on the court with him at the same time is going to buoy his effectiveness, Paul banged up and shoulder and all was still not afraid to put his body on the line.

Mag was solid in the first half, more quiet in the 2nd

We need to talk about Derek Simpson. It is clear that Pikiell sees him as a NOW player, not the future. 27 minutes tonight and Derek was much more in control and effective . .5-10 fg with a really nice 3 and dunk and some nice assists, could you ask for a better game from a freshmen especially one who didnt come in with all the hype and rankings like Jaden Jones last year. Simpson looks quick and comfortable. I am really anticipating to see how his game stacks up when we getting into play vs Miami and in the Big 10. So much potential here and so much quickness that we are not used to seeing at RU

Woofolk may be further down the depth charge but I love he is getting meaningful minutes right now and look very solid in that time. Reiber with yet another Threeiber but I do see the writing on the wall with his role on the team. Oskar looks buried at the bottom. Chol really not ready at this point. Miller got 14 minutes and had a nice drive to the hoop but its likely Simpson is way ahead of him for minutes going forward.

Everything from the boxscore looks outstanding.....52% fg shooting, a sick 19-22 at the free throw line, 19 assists and only 10 turnovers while forcing Sacred Heart into a whopping 25 miscues.

Lets be clear, Columbia was awful and Sacred Heart while picked 2nd in the NEC is not very good either. I have seen alot of basketball. This Rutgers teams looks impressive and thats without Caleb McConnell. I have not seen a Rutgers team this quick running the floor in transition and with such impressive ball movement since maybe the 1991 team. Naturally its great to be optimistic but just how good this team is will not be answered until a quiz against Temple and a test at Miami. What will happen when that first sign of adversity hits. Who will step up? Who will crumble? Or will the ebullience and zest remain effusive and define the Rutgers zeitgeist of 2022-2023
 

TheHandOfChaos

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The impact of the addition of Cam Spencer cannot be overstated IMO......

His play kind of reminds me of Iowa's Joe Weiskamp out there just a lil shorter, but with better defense and court vision.

Also huge skills improvement obvious from Cliff, Mawot mag in particular

This team has a lot of weapons on both sides of the ball
 
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Degaz-RU

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Pretty clear the main 7-man rotation will be Paul, Caleb, Cam, Cliff, Mag, Hyatt, and Simpson. And then Pike will fill in regular minutes from Reiber and Wolf, but perhaps play offense-defense with them depending on matchups. Sort of a 7+2 man rotation.

Miller will be a defensive specialist, probably no more than a few minutes each half when needed, more if there’s foul trouble.

Palmquist and Chol are not going to be in the rotation at all, but will just be “break glass in emergency” type players, and garbage time players. You could do worse with your 11th and 12th players.
 

ColonelRutgers

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Spencer could’ve easily scored 30 but it was obvious in the second half that when it appeared Sacred Heart was not going to make any sort of run at all, he was intent on getting shots for his teammates instead and not taking any more himself. He could’ve put the ball on the deck and gotten in the paint for a bucket any time he wanted. It’s like he got to 18 points and he refused to get 20. But if we needed it, he has the confidence to turn it on.
 
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Okay.. so far, so good. But anyone remember the early season exuberance a couple years ago? We beat Maryland at Maryland and looked unstoppable.. like Phi Slamma Jamma II. It was crazy good. THEN.. we struggled a bit. Still a great season compared to where we were coming from... but there was much gnashing of teeth.

I certainly don't want to see that happen again... but just want to temper expectations. They are good. They work hard out there.

- We have been envious of transfers (not our guys, just in-general) who became stars on other clubs... we may have one of those now.

- Saw some nice passing down low.. was it Cliff to Woolfolk who gave it right back to Cliff? That was impressive and I'd imagine we are practicing that with Rieber too. Big man give/go game. I want to see it again.. that is going to kill some teams.. generate fouls.

-So happy to see us hit foul shots.
 
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Spencer could’ve easily scored 30 but it was obvious in the second half that when it appeared Sacred Heart was not going to make any sort of run at all, he was intent on getting shots for his teammates instead and not taking any more himself. He could’ve put the ball on the deck and gotten in the paint for a bucket any time he wanted. It’s like he got to 18 points and he refused to get 20. But if we needed it, he has the confidence to turn it on.
I want to see other players learn to prepare themselves to shoot like Spencer does. PM had several opportunities to set his feet and shoot a three quickly because he knew the ball was coming. We have to have guys ready to put up threes while open and squared to teh basket.
 

Scangg

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Great write up. Hit on all the key points. The ball movement will bring a tear to your eye. The unselfishness. The options. The versatility. This team is just so freaking fun to watch. Bac nailed the attitude aspect too. No flatness. Team is locked in, engaged, and looks like they are on a mission with something to prove this season

Spencer and Simpson both outperforming expectations even for me and I was very bullish on both. Simpson will be a star. Spencer already is.

Hyatt 19 points on 7 shots is unbelievable

Woolfolk looks great and will have a role

Dean will always come in and hit a 3 or make a play

Miller brings the defense

Mag playing D and bringing energy even when he's not the focus. A breakout game will come for him too

Paul and Cliff will be reliable all year

My concern on offense was going to be potentially too much pressure on Paul to always create and a chance he would be overdribbling with too many people standing around watching. We haven't seen any of that. The ball movement is there constantly. Spencer and Simpson are taking major pressure off with their ability to score and make plays for others

This team is so lovable. How could you not be super pumped right now? Their style of play is about as enjoyable as it gets
 

NewJerseyHawk

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I know the scoring is what is going to be talked about but if we rewind to last year, I was watching how lost at times we looked on defense, not identifying cutters and not getting deflections. We aren't the most athletic team in terms of speed, so we have to make deflections in the passing lane and become a smarter team to know what our opponents are doing and that showed tonight (especially Spencer).

Spencer is a player RU has not had ever.....not in terms of just being a sharp shooter, but he is the typical B1G guard that forces opponents to pay attention and with spacing on the floor.

Spencer being the player who possibly makes the entry pass to Cliff makes Hyatt and Cliff more effective......Cliff when being doubled, just needs to get rid of the ball and in one sequence, the ball hit 3 RU players hands in 3 seconds for an open 3.

Spencer also requires defenders to close out aggressively on him, but he's unselfish enough to just swing the ball to Mag, Hyatt, Paul or Simpson and let them take the shot. As the season progresses, there may be times where you are almost asking Cam "go take that shot".

I won't say that I am surprised about Hyatt, because he probably could have another 3 baskets in the opener if he made the chippies. But he looks like he's finally not carrying any issues from his knee injury 3 years ago and it shows. He's able to maneuver with either hand, looks solid and the shot release looks better. He also made some extra passes that showed me he isn't pressing to score and is allowing the ball to move without a fear that it won't find its way back to him. I think when you have a Spencer moving the ball to the open guy when he could easily push up more shots, it becomes easier to have others do it as well. Hyatt specifically along with Jones early last year, looked like as soon as it hit their hands, they didn't trust it would get back to them and the shot would go up.

Add in better team defense from everyone this year vs last year and you have the makings of a program being in place. Such a big difference between a program and assembling a team of parts via the portal.

A program starts to look the same, year in and year out, irregardless of the players on the court.

A team assembled on the court may be as talented vs a program, but is solely reliant on player talent more than team work.

RU and Pike have built a program and if we can find or get the 1 or possibly 2 more 2023 commitments up front, we have completed the cycle of building a program......when you have that, incoming players have a defined role to start their careers and then have a chance to develop and expand their roles as they mature into the program.

This team definitely has some limitations that aren't showing up right now, but a lot of that can be covered up when you play as a team. And I give a lot of that credit to Pike, Brandin Knight, Karl Hobbs and TJ Thompson for blending some of these newer pieces together and quickly finding out what they can or can't do well right now. It seemed to take Pike and staff 10 to 12 games into a season in past years of experimenting to see how things would work against an opponent you expected to beat.

Now, it's clear (to me) that at least 6 players have the capability of getting to 10+ points in a game.....which is much closer to the 2019-20 team,.more so than the last 2 seasons, where it was really reliant on RHJ, Geo, Young or maybe mixing in a Mathis or Myles Johnson giving that boost.

Signs are positive early that this team could be as fun to watch as any team in recent memory. And that could make it more difficult for opponents to figure out who to focus on.
 

BossNJ

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How many superlatives can we shower Rutgers with after their performance in the first two games. If you thought the Columbia win was impressive, then how about tonight for an encore and then some. RU had a 9 minute stretch vs Columbia where they were outscored 16-4 in an otherwise smothering performance against an overmatched opponent. Their play tonight vs Sacred Heart was scintillating and basically flawless. This one hit all the checkmarks. My biggest is takeway is the eagerness and effusiveness in trying get a win against a weak opponent and keeping focused on their task with no visible letdown. These early season games have been difficult at times for this program. I said last game I thought last years team was sort of stale and didnt have the taste buds for these non conference games. Its a stark contrast to what looks like a really hungry playing with such exuberance and zest. And make no mistake this isnt just a few players, this is the entire TEAM. Everyone seems locked in and loaded. Does it mean we are winning the Biog 10? No but its showing a glimpse into the character and identity of the team. Bumps in the road will come and RU is probably two games away from facing any real adversity but they are showing all the right signs

Options, options, options. How many options this year compared to last. What I was looking for at the beginning of the game was a breakout game from either Hyatt or Mag. Both are starters with Caleb out, one will get the starting job. They both have different skill sets but neither one has ever been counted on to be nothing more than role players in the previous season. Their challenge this year is to take the step up and become main cogs in the spinning wheel. Hyatt in particular was a bit frustrating last year. We would see some good things but followed up by the usual turnovers or bad decision making on offense. Well tonight Aundre stepped up as a man. 19 points on 5-7 shooting in just 20 minutes, 7-7 at the line and 2-3 from 3. We can overlook the 3 turnovers. Hyatt was in control tonight and he was confident on both ends of the court. This was a perfect time for him to flaunt his game and prove he can fill some of the void left by Ron Harper Jr. He does not have to be NBA Ron. He just needs to assert himself and get his. Hyatt could be a matchup problem for most teams but he isnt even going to be a first or 2nd scoring option.

Cam Spencer what else can we say about King Cam. Another game another flurry of action where he was money on both ends. 15 of his 18 came in the first half, 6-10 shooting, 3=6 from 3-3 at the line, 3 more steals and whopping 6 assists and no turnovers.... but get this...tied with Cliff for team high rebounds at 7. An incredible stat line. Its only been 2 games but it seems like Cam has been her for a few years. His vision, court awareness and quiet confidence is off the charts. Not even sure when if ever Rutgers had a player like him...perhaps Dadika??

Lets just say I am glad that Cliff finally got to flaunt his moves as this game wore on. Cliff was relative quiet vs Columbia and I was okay with that because that game wasnt about him. Tonight, Cliff was double and denied early and RU went elsewhere and Cliffs teammates stepped up. Then it was time to get Cliff involved. He ended up with 17 points on 8-13 fg and I liked he once again knocked down a side jumper. Yes Sacred Heart didnt have the size to stop him but its still important for Cliff to feel comfortable being one of the go to guys and I believe Cliff will be more heavily guarded than he was last season.

What is truly impressive is that all 3 players above look in sync and thats mainly because of what Paul is bringing to the table concentrating more on distributing the ball right now. Paul's shot isnt really falling right now, just 1-6 but his value right now is running this team. Paul had 6 assists, 4 steals and 5 rebounds and not having Geo on the court with him at the same time is going to buoy his effectiveness, Paul banged up and shoulder and all was still not afraid to put his body on the line.

Mag was solid in the first half, more quiet in the 2nd

We need to talk about Derek Simpson. It is clear that Pikiell sees him as a NOW player, not the future. 27 minutes tonight and Derek was much more in control and effective . .5-10 fg with a really nice 3 and dunk and some nice assists, could you ask for a better game from a freshmen especially one who didnt come in with all the hype and rankings like Jaden Jones last year. Simpson looks quick and comfortable. I am really anticipating to see how his game stacks up when we getting into play vs Miami and in the Big 10. So much potential here and so much quickness that we are not used to seeing at RU

Woofolk may be further down the depth charge but I love he is getting meaningful minutes right now and look very solid in that time. Reiber with yet another Threeiber but I do see the writing on the wall with his role on the team. Oskar looks buried at the bottom. Chol really not ready at this point. Miller got 14 minutes and had a nice drive to the hoop but its likely Simpson is way ahead of him for minutes going forward.

Everything from the boxscore looks outstanding.....52% fg shooting, a sick 19-22 at the free throw line, 19 assists and only 10 turnovers while forcing Sacred Heart into a whopping 25 miscues.

Lets be clear, Columbia was awful and Sacred Heart while picked 2nd in the NEC is not very good either. I have seen alot of basketball. This Rutgers teams looks impressive and thats without Caleb McConnell. I have not seen a Rutgers team this quick running the floor in transition and with such impressive ball movement since maybe the 1991 team. Naturally its great to be optimistic but just how good this team is will not be answered until a quiz against Temple and a test at Miami. What will happen when that first sign of adversity hits. Who will step up? Who will crumble? Or will the ebullience and zest remain effusive and define the Rutgers zeitgeist of 2022-2023
Ebullience??

Nice job bac..
 
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PSAL_Hoops

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Great write up! We’ve looked fantastic in all facets so far.

Regarding the 16-4 Columbia run, it’s worth noting that most of their points were because they were in the bonus and we kept committing fouls with our subs playing aggressive. We seemed to manage that better yesterday. All around great performance.
 
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cubuffsdoug

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Not to get off topic, but the ticker at the bottom of SNY's SportsNight listed the score of the SHU/Rutgers 50 to 88, and RU ranked 11th. 11th what? 11th in the nation? Is someone predicting the future? 😁
 

rufeelinit

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Nice recap. I count on you to remain grounded given the comp and I think you did that. Agree that it is hard to argue with the box score statistics from the game. Glad we are able to win these games comfortably and figure out what type of depth we have. We need a solid 8 going into conference play and guys need to know their roles.

That Simpson got 27 minutes was one eye catching takeaway for me. Sounds like Hyatt played well. Only nitpick would be the 3 TO's which at times has been an issue for him in the past. Hopefully that does not continue as the comp improves. If we could combine his offensive potential with Mag's defense we would really have a special player.
 
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Scarlet Blind

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Jalen Miller played 13:30, +14 on the floor. He is going to be an important piece as a backup PG in the equation. I think he saw more time because 2 early fouls to Mag and Hyatt in the first half slid Paul to a forward spot, but even that worked out well. Sacred Heart did better vs our starters 26-16 in 10:59 compared to 40-3 vs Columbia
 
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Knightmoves

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Great write up bac.

Any concerns about Mulcahy’s play? He took a donut in the FG column last night, although he did have some assists and steals. Having the shoulder wrapped makes it look like he is not yet ready to play at a high level.
 

ru66

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Let's hope they stay "loveable " in the eyes of the usual bandwagon guys after a loss. Unfortunately we're not going undefeated and the naysayers inevitably come out. I hope not.
 

jonS

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Excellent review BAC. I realize it's only 2 games into the season but this team looks better than last year's team--better defense , more scoring options and the new additions have all blended in quite smoothly and effectively. And most impressively , they play solidly as a team on both ends of the floor---offense and defense. I'm anxious to see how this team does when the competition steps up. I realize I'm showing my age but Cam Spencer reminds me of Bobby Lloyd with his all around solid game , fine shooting, excellent foul shooting, and he makes everyone else better. Boy do I wish we had him another two years. Simpson is most impressive and looks poised , under control and the stage so far is not too big for him. And Woolfolk may be the biggest surprise to me. Little was said about him after he signed but he looks like he can ultimately be more than just a backup for Cliff. Relatively little hoopla was said about the incoming new players but boy have they impressed. For me what's most impressive after seeing these first two games is that there's not a noticeable drop off in play after the first round of substitutions like there has been in past years. This speaks well for depth on this team compared to past teams.
 
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kcg88

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Great look at the big picture stuff. Some small notes I have:

Cliff really really needs to stop going for blocks as the help defender. Even if he gets the block it doesn't guarantee us possession. Stay home, box out your man, and grab the rebound! He gambles too much and when he doesn't get the block the backside rebound is right there and it's a free layup for the opponent.

Jalen Miller's little left-handed drive was nice to see. He can't be a total zero on offense again and while it was against a team that had basically stopped trying it was a tight dribble and a good finish.

Cam Spencer needs to spend an hour in the gym with Mag, Hyatt, Cliff, and the scout team and show Mag and Hyatt how to make better entry passes to the post.

Paul Mulcahy clearly bothered by his shoulder. He can play through it obviously but his three point shooting form was obviously affected.

Antonio Chol won't be part of the rotation but that's fine. Good year to get his feet wet and I think it's the right move to get him some time in blowouts versus redshirting him. Doesn't have a good sense for the game yet.

No idea what to make of Dean Reiber. He hasn't been active enough defensively or on the glass for Pikiell which is why he only played 6 minutes last night. But on the other hand he's 6-10 and pulled that three pointer with a defender who wasn't in bad position. We can definitely use him but he needs to step it up defensively.

Woolfolk I think is going to be alright. He does a good job of defending with his body and not gambling for blocks. He'll commit some rough fouls but that's to be expected.
 

Scangg

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Just wanted to reiterate that Hyatt haf 19 points on 7 shots. Only 7 freaking shots
 

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