Transfers close Rutgers' transition
The Rutgers men’s basketball team’s 2010 recruiting class comprised of Gilvydas Biruta, Mike Poole, Austin Carroll and Tyree Graham.
Four years ago, these players were set to receive honors on 2014’s senior night, which occurs tomorrow against No. 15 Cincinnati (24-5, 13-3).
Now the team will honor forward Wally Judge and wing J.J. Moore, who transferred from Kansas State and Pittsburgh, respectively.
Four from the class of 2010 and two from the class of 2011 exited Rutgers, but Judge and Moore remained committed.
In terms of roster stability, Judge sees better results in the Knights’ current chapter because of head coach Eddie Jordan’s atmosphere.
“He’s charismatic, he’s funny,” Judge said. “And having something like that in a coach at this level is kind of rare because by the time you get to this level, it becomes a business. He takes that out of the whole thing, and he just makes it a fun atmosphere.”
Judge views the transfers as more a part of college basketball. Transfers also brought positive results to Rutgers (11-19, 5-12), as five Knights originally started at different colleges.
The Washington, D.C., native and Moore are certainly happy with how it resulted.
“It’s almost like being in the NBA when guys get traded,” Judge said. “We gave up Derrick Randall [who transferred to Pittsburgh] and got J.J. Moore. We would love to have Derrick, but it’s all part of the game.”
Moore wanted to transfer closer to home, he said. After playing for Pittsburgh for three years, the transfer benefitted him on the court, too. His 26.2 minutes per game and 11.1 points per game are career highs.
Although Pittsburgh made 11 NCAA Tournament appearances in 12 years, Moore likes what he sees at a developing Rutgers program.
“The whole year has been up and down. It’s like a rollercoaster,” he said. “But at the same time, these are a good group of guys, and I know that they’re going to go out there and compete real well in the Big Ten.”
Cincinnati brings the AAC’s top scoring defense, allowing 57.2 points per game. It also brings the AAC’s leading scorer in guard Sean Kilpatrick. His 20.3 points per game make him the conference’s leading scorer and a strong candidate for AAC Player of the Year.
Judge just wants to see Rutgers play a complete game.
Rutgers did so for the first 30 minutes in Wednesday’s 69-63 loss to No. 19 Connecticut. The Knights then went five minutes without a point, only scoring 10 more in the final five minutes.
“I think it’s just mental lapses,” Judge said. “The talent’s there, the charisma’s there. I think you’ve just got to stay focused throughout the game.”
Rutgers’ previous matchup was Saturday’s 74-73 victory against South Florida. The Knights suffered lapses, trailing, 50-35, with 17:11 left in the game, but they never backed down.
Jordan wants to see that spirit in the final game before the AAC Tournament, in which Rutgers will not get a first-round bye Wednesday.
“I don’t want a whole lot to change,” Jordan said. “I want them to be competitive like we were the last two games, maybe the last three games — just do things to knock on the door to win the game.”
Despite Rutgers’ tough times, Judge reflects positively on his time here since transferring from Kansas State in 2011.
Judge came to Rutgers with dreams of playing in the NBA. He has one last attempt to prove himself at the Louis Brown Athletic Center.
“I don’t think anybody plays for five years in college and then decides to be a mailman,” Judge said. “Hopefully the NBA teams see something in me that they can key in on and help build because I know I’m not necessarily a finished product.”
For updates on the Rutgers men’s basketball team, follow Josh Bakan on Twitter @JoshBakan. For general Rutgers sports updates, follow @TargumSports.