In preparation for the 2022-23 Rutgers men's basketball season, The Daily Targum will be highlighting Scarlet Knights who are new on campus and players who are looking to step their roles up in the coming season. Today, we highlight a fan-favorite who showed massive improvement last season and figures to be a big part of the success of the program this season.
Junior forward Dean Reiber has become a man of many names at Rutgers. The Grim Reiber and Dean Threiber are just some of the names that fans have given the 6-foot-10-inch Greensboro, North Carolina, native during the course of last season.
The fans took quickly to Reiber, and it seems that he has taken quickly to the fan appreciation.
“The fans are amazing. They really do make the atmosphere special here,” Reiber said. “The nicknames they give me, I love them. Just seeing them after the game … they're all smiling, just screaming — it's all good energy.”
Part of the admiration for Reiber comes from the fact that last year’s breakout was not expected by many of the fans. Most fans and media members assumed that junior center Clifford Omoruyi would take the starting job and either long-time stalwart senior forward Luke Nathan or graduate student forward Ralph Gonzales-Agee would become the backup.
Nobody suspected Reiber, who only played 13 games and 76 total minutes in the 2020-21 season. While those fans and media members were correct about Omoruyi, by mid-season, much to the surprise of everyone, Reiber had become Omoruyi’s backup.
Reiber first made his presence felt in a game against Nebraska on January 8 earlier this year. He scored 10 points and brought down four rebounds. The Knights would go on to win 93-65. The real breakout for Reiber came in a February 5 matchup against Michigan State. Behind a sold-out Rutgers crowd, Reiber scored a season-high 12 points, recorded two assists, shot 5-6 from the field and 2-3 from the three-point line.
Most notably, the Knights got the surprising 84-63 victory. It was Reiber’s best performance of the season, and by the second half, every time Reiber touched the ball, the crowd erupted.
The nicknames soon started proliferating as Rutgers went on to beat three additional ranked opponents in a row and reasserted the team into the NCAA Tournament conversation.
Reiber made it clear that he is not content with his breakout last year and is focused on improving aspects of his game during the offseason.
“My shooting has gotten better too, I have been working on that during the offseason a lot," Reiber said. "The game has also slowed down for me a little bit, so I can make more reads now.”
Though Reiber mentioned his shooting got better, he had a great season shooting the ball last year. Last season, he shot 53 percent from the field and 58 percent from the three-point line.
Many people are discussing whether to start Reiber as a stretch power forward or just keep him as the backup to Omoruyi. Reiber does not seem to have that on his mind, though.
“(Omoruyi) is a good scorer, so I just throw him the ball and let him work,” Reiber said. “It's good for us.”
Reiber became a fun unexpected story last year for the Knights, a cult hero for the Rutgers faithful that stood out amongst a team with many big personalities. This season, the focus will be on making the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive season.
“We take it one game at a time and try to win ... That is how we approach it,” Reiber said. “For me personally, I don't really care about statistics as long as I am playing hard … Putting our team in the best position I can to win — that's all I really care about.”
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