Foreman shows promise with extended minutes
On a night when it didn’t have much to find solace in, the Rutgers men’s basketball team saw moments of optimism Tuesday from D.J. Foreman.
The 6-foot-8 freshman forward, seeing his most extensive action since Big Ten play began Dec. 30, gave the Scarlet Knights 22 impactful minutes off the bench in their 54-50 loss to Michigan.
“I’m happy that he kind of broke out,” head coach Eddie Jordan said of the Spring Valley, New York, native. “He got some confidence, he’s quick to the basket. He got some rebounds, he defended better than he had in the past.”
Foreman shot 50 percent from the floor, scored five points and corralled five rebounds. Beyond the stat sheet, the 230-pounder stayed active and aggressive, giving Rutgers solid post play on both ends of the floor.
Foreman’s biggest play of the night at the Louis Brown Athletic Center came with 9:04 to play, when he proactively positioned himself underneath the basket.
Michigan’s interior defense collapsed on senior guard Myles Mack, who drove the lane and dished the ball to the wide-open freshman for an easy dunk. The critical bucket gave Rutgers its largest lead at 40-34.
The key play was overshadowed as Mack missed an uncontested 3-pointer on Rutgers’ next possession with the RAC ready to explode. Michigan guard Derrick Walton Jr. made him pay with consecutive treys to even the score, ultimately shifting the tide.
Still, Foreman’s teammates took notice.
“It was great. He gave us a lot of rebounding and energy play,” said junior guard Bishop Daniels. “He was doing the garbage work, and we needed that. We needed somebody to step up and do that.”
Foreman wasn’t perfect, committing a turnover early in the game. He also bricked three of his four free throw attempts, including a pair with the score tied at 42 and 5:20 left in the regulation.
But unlike previous contests when Jordan made a habit of pulling Foreman early after growing pains, the second-year head coach showed trust in the freshman.
Foreman hadn’t logged double-digit minutes since Jan. 8 against Nebraska, and his only higher total this season was 26 on Dec. 20 against St. Francis.
“He’s just got to get more comfortable in these type of situations, these type of environments —be ready to catch the ball and finish,” Jordan said. “Don’t bobble a ball when you’re making a play at the rim — be strong. Make your free throws. It’s a new environment to him, and we need to develop him.”
Foreman isn’t the only one.
Part of the reason his performance Tuesday didn’t play a bigger role in the outcome was that Jordan received only two other bench points. No Knight outside of Mack and senior forward Kadeem Jack scored double figures, which has become a common theme in Rutgers’ season.
They refuse to publicly make excuses, but the team’s two best players are arguably carrying too much of a load right now after combining to play all but one minute against Michigan.
Without collective consistency from its role players offensively, Rutgers has scored less than 60 points in four of seven Big Ten games.
Foreman and Daniels, two of the more highly touted newcomers to the roster this season, are at the forefront of what continues to be a work in progress.
“It’s always good to have guys step up and fulfill the role that they were recruited to do,” Jack said. “D.J. did that tonight. Other nights it’s been Malick [Kone], Mike Williams, Bishop [Daniels], Junior [Etou]. A lot of people step up at different times, and I think tonight we probably needed more people to step up. We kind of dropped the ball as a team.”
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