Guard resurges before UConn
On rare occasion when junior guard Jerome Seagears jacks up long-range shots for the Rutgers men’s basketball team, they fall.
It happened when Seagears last confronted Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier, known for his agility and quick decisions.
Seagears is quick enough to control the ball, leading the AAC with a 2.5 assist-to-turnover ratio. He makes decisions as quickly as anyone, but they often lead to poor shot selection.
When the Scarlet Knights (11-18, 5-11) face No. 19 UConn tonight in Storrs, Conn., Seagears could potentially resemble the complete player who kept up with arguably the AAC’s top guard.
Seagears scored 19 points off 4-for-9 field goal shooting Jan. 25 against the Huskies (23-6, 11-5), making all eight of his free throws. He tied junior forward Kadeem Jack for Rutgers’ scoring lead and recorded six assists.
Little changed with Seagears’ usual initiative. He just made his shots.
The Silver Spring, Md., native played only a combined 12 minutes Feb. 20 against Memphis and Feb. 26 against Central Florida. But Seagears made his way back into the late-game lineup Saturday against South Florida, playing 22 minutes.
Seagears shot poorly with a 2-for-7 clip from the field, mostly on outside shots with hands in his face. But his four assists were instrumental in Rutgers’ comeback, as were Jack and senior wing J.J. Moore scoring 20 points apiece.
“I haven’t really changed the rotation. It’s how you play as you go in and they did things right, they had good demeanor on the floor,” said head coach Eddie Jordan of Seagears and Moore against USF. “There wasn’t any hanging of the heads and other things, but they trusted what we wanted them to do.”
Seagears was not available for postgame comment.
Jordan says his lineups depend on how much he trusts players to perform. The head coach trusted Seagears enough to include him in Rutgers’ final offensive possession against USF.
Seagears quarterbacked the play when Rutgers trailed, 73-72, with 33 seconds left in the game. He worked the ball up the court and received the ball a second time as the Knights passed and ran around the perimeter.
Moore assisted Jack, who made a close jumper in the paint on the double team. While Seagears was likely not Rutgers’ most important player in that play, he deserves some credit for staying patient until Moore found Jack.
“Without those guys coming off the bench and doing what they did, I don’t think that we would have the energy to get back, and if we did, to close the game,” Jack said postgame of Seagears and Moore. “So they definitely played a huge part.”
Ever since losing his starting job Dec. 4 against George Washington, Seagears played less than 20 minutes in eight games.
He is yet another shoot-first Rutgers guard who is offensively inefficient, shooting .411 from the field this season. Junior guard Myles Mack shoots .402 from the field, but averages eight more minutes per game than Seagears.
Mack more consistently takes over games offensively, placing sixth in the AAC with 58 3-pointers this season and ninth with 15.3 points per game.
Seagears almost played for Auburn this season, returning in June after transferring. If Seagears is unhappy with his playing time under Jordan, he might consider taking his final year of eligibility elsewhere.
But if Seagears closes the season performing like he did last time against Napier, Rutgers might not want that.
For updates on the Rutgers men’s basketball team, follow Josh Bakan on Twitter @JoshBakan. For general Rutgers sports updates, follow @TargumSports.