When it comes to the Rutgers men's basketball team, inconsistency sums up much of this season. Whether it be poor shooting form, struggles to find a starting lineup or lack of chemistry, the Scarlet Knights (11-10, 3-7) have been more dysfunctional now than in recent years.
But after an impressive comeback road win against Michigan, Rutgers is clinging on to a bit of hope for the rest of the season. The Knights are competitive, as seen in their win against the Wolverines (7-15, 2-9) and even in their loss against Purdue. Against the Boilermakers (21-2, 10-2), Rutgers outscored No. 2 Purdue in the second half but ultimately still fell.
This season, it has been evident that head coach Steve Pikiell is still trying to figure out who his best players are.
When senior forward Mawot Mag returned from injury to pair in the frontcourt with senior center Clifford Omoruyi, expectations skyrocketed. These expectations were not quite reached, but players like sophomore guard Derek Simpson and freshman guard Jamichael Davis have shown flashes of greatness. The pair have both become offensive creators for the Knights, albeit inconsistently.
Against Michigan, redshirt junior guard Jeremiah Williams returned from injury and had an impressive debut. Williams is primed to play a massive role moving forward. Now having many of its pieces back in action and healthy, Rutgers should focus on making strides to finish this season while developing as the season goes on. Davis, Simpson and freshman guard Gavin Griffiths should get increased minutes while the Knights try to build for the future.
While Rutgers does lack success on the road, if it wins back-to-back road games over the Wolverines and potentially over Maryland, a huge two-game home stretch would follow. The Knights could be heating up at a critical point in the season.
If Pikiell can find a group that works and allows them to build chemistry while focusing on player development, the team could find more consistent growth rather than the inconsistent spurts players see now. It only takes one streak to turn a season around, and for Rutgers, the time is now.
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