Big East woes center around
Certain words and phrases litter Rutgers head men’s basketball coach Mike Rice’s postgame press conferences this season.
They are probably not the ones he takes pride in saying.
Rice often uses terms like “inconsistent” and posits that the team often beats itself.
He often gives the impression that the only way the Scarlet Knights have been consistent this season is in the problems that have held them to a 3-5 record in Big East play.
The numbers back him up.
Rutgers is 13th out of 15 Big East teams in assist-to-turnover ratio and next to last in turnover margin.
Its most recent contest, a 66-54 loss Sunday at Connecticut, did not help.
“We’re getting in our own way,” Rice said Sunday. “Whether its execution, whether its carelessness as far as turnovers … we’re pressing right now and we’re not playing very well.”
The Knights dished out 11 assists as opposed to 16 turnovers, but the performance is only the latest in a developing trend.
Of its 19 games this season, Rutgers has posted more assists than turnovers in only six games. Only one of those games resulted in a loss, a 68-58 defeat Jan. 12 to Cincinnati.
Rutgers has also only turned the ball over less than its opponents in six games this season. Only Notre Dame beat the Knights when that happened.
Both trends are steps in the wrong direction if they plan to compete late in the season and during the Big East Tournament.
“We have to definitely buckle down on that,” said senior forward Austin Johnson on Sunday. “If you do those things wrong in the Big East, you’re going to shoot yourself in the foot every game and you won’t win many games.”
But Rutgers’ troubles extend beyond execution and turnovers. It also lacks steady individual production.
The Huskies downed the Knights thanks to guards Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright and forward DeAndre Daniels, all of whom scored at least 13 points.
Rutgers had only two double figure scorers, and six total players scored.
Senior wing Dane Miller, junior guard Mike Poole and sophomore forward Derrick Randall failed to score in 39 combined minutes.
Rutgers has posted more than two double-digit scorers in only three of its eight Big East games, a number Rice knows the team needs to improve.
“You can’t have one or two players,” he said. “[We need] four or five players. Our balance has gone out the window because guys are too inconsistent. You need more for victory in the Big East.”
Sophomore guard Jerome Seagears can attest to that. He scored a career-high 21 points against the Huskies, but received little offensive support.
The Knights are now living proof of the inconsistency the Big East can cause, sitting two games below .500 in conference play, on a three-game losing streak and in 11th place.
The time when the Knights sat tied for sixth place likely feels like a long time ago to Rutgers fans.
That was six days ago, and Rutgers’ road does not get any easier.
For updates on the Rutgers men’s basketball team, follow Joey Gregory on Twitter @JGregoryTargum.