I recently sat down with Shawn over at 'On The Banks of the Raritan' (a Rutgers Scarlet Knights blog), and exchanged Q&A's in advance of the Rutgers/Seton Hall contest on Tuesday night. In part 1, we're asking the questions to OTBR, so read on to see how they handle a little plank walk as we inquire about FHJ's job status, bailing recruits, volume scoring, Dane Miller and technicals. Later tonight, we will post our answers to OTBR equally enticing and thrilling inquiries regarding Seton Hall Basketball.
A big thanks to Shawn and the folks at OTBR for participating in the Plank Walk. Best of luck tomorrow night, and be on the lookout for another brilliant marketing attempt from SHU with a T-shirt that states, "The Only aaRrrgh in New Jersey" displayed in the student section.
Editor's Note: Is there a student out there that will sell me their collection of these ridiculous t-shirts? Email me.
Enjoy the Q&A!
Gonzo Ball: Gotta start with the obvious one. There were some whispers after the victory over GTown that Fred Hill Jr. may have saved his job with the win. Given that he's accumulated 12 BE wins in 4 seasons, how much more time does he have? How short is that rope?
On the Banks of the Raritan: I'm not sure Hill saved his job but he did make AD Tim Pernetti's job a little tougher. When the team started the Big East season 0-8, it seemed like a no-brainer that Hill would be gone despite the $1.8 million he would be owed next year. I do have to give Hill a lot of credit for keeping the team focused and hungry enough to win four of its last six Big East games, but I have to feel this is his last season.
The team has some nice young talent and I think the time to make a change has arrived. I know a lot of fans would be irate if Hill isn't gone, but I also wouldn't be surprised if he's back next year. If he is back, expectations will be very high and the rope will be extremely short. The school may bring him back because of the steep price tag of letting him go. I'm not sure RU can afford to pay Hill's his guaranteed 1.8 mil and land a big-name coach.
GB: Should Hill be let go following the season, is there any chance Biruta or Carroll could bail? I wouldn't mind seeing Biruta come play on the other side of town and if that means I have to cheer for Hill's departure, I will do so.
OTBR: I haven't heard anything about the recruits bouncing if Hill goes. If this was a situation like Calipari leaving Memphis for Kentucky, then we might see recruits jumping ship. If Hill goes, it is likely the school will replace him with big-name coach or at least someone they think is a better coach and I can't see Biruta or Carroll having that much loyalty to Hill. Of course, I could be totally wrong. A guy like Dane Miller, Big East Rookie of the Week for three weeks running, could also be loyal to Hill and decide to leave if Hill is fired. That would be devestating. It will be an interesting post-season for a team neither headed to the NCAA Tournament or the NIT.
GB: RU has lost 3-of-4 to the Pirates in the last 2 years in contests that seemingly come down to which team has better execution in the final few minutes of the game. What must RU display on Tuesday to get over the hump to earn their 5th Big East victory?
OTBR: When the team rebounds well and limits its turnovers, they usually have a shot at winning. I think these will be keys to Tuesday night's game. James Beatty is a solid point guard, but he's a pass first type of point while reserve Mike Coburn is a shoot first point guard. If Mike Rosario, Dane Miller, and Jonathan Mitchell are struggling to score points, Coach Hill may need to give Coburn more minutes. If this happens, RU will likely turn the ball over. That seems to be the problem with Coburn. He can provide a spark off the bench, but he's a turnover machine. With that being said, the team will need at least 20 points from Rosario, Miller, or Mitchell to beat SHU.
GB: Jeremy Hazell is the biggest, "volume" scorer or shooter, we've had at The Hall in a long time. At 38% FG shooting, does Rosario have a bit of that in him? How do RU fans react to it? SHU fans seem to be split down the middle whether Hazell's excessive shooting helps or hurts the squad.
OTBR: Rosario has had his struggles this season. I think he's developed more confidence in his teammates' ability to carry some of the scoring load and he's played better basketball as a result. I don't think he takes as many shots as Hazell. Does Hazell ever pass? Rosario's worst games this season came soon after Gregory Echenique was lost to injury and then transferred to Creighton. Rosario was likely feeling the pressure to carry this team and his game suffered. With guys like Mitchell and Miller getting better with each Big East game, Rosario has played under control and allowed the game to come to him, for the most part.
GB: In the UConn thrashing on Saturday, Dane Miller really impressed me with his play. After being wildly inconsistent to start the season, he seems to have evolved into an above average scorer and a great rebounder. Who are the best scorers & rebounders on the Rutgers squad?
OTBR: Miller is turning into a special player for RU. I just heard he was named Big East Rookie of the Week for the third straight week. The last player to do this was Carmelo Anthony. Anthony accomplished the feat a record five times in 2002-2003. Among freshmen in league games, Miller ranks first in scoring (12.5), tied for first in steals (1.29), second in rebounding (6.6), third in assists (2.86), and fourth in blocks (0.71).
Aside from Miller, I'd keep an eye out for junior Jonathan Mitchell. Mitchell is a smart player who can knock down the three-point shot and crash the boards. Mitchell led RU with 24 points in last weekend's win over Georgetown. Another Scarlet Knight who can make a difference is senior Hamady Ndiaye. Ndiaye leads the Big East with 4.67 blocks a game and ranks third nationally. He comes into Tuesday night's game with 339 career rejections, just 16 shy of matching the school record of 355 set by Roy Hinson.
GB: O/U Total Technicals between these two squads tomorrow: 3? I'll take the over.
OTBR: Interesting question. I'll say under. I can't tell you how many technicals RU has received this year, but it isn't high. Unless Hazell clotheslines somebody with his ears and things get ugly, I expect a clean game.