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The sophomore slump is a phenomena in sports where players, coaches or teams struggle to replicate the success of their first season on a new team or in a new conference.The Rutgers men’s basketball team won’t lose time worrying about going through it.The Scarlet Knights hope to do a reverse sophomore slump — a sophomore surprise, if you will — in their second season in the Big Ten after their inaugural season in the conference ended in disaster.The Knights lost a program record 15 consecutive games to close out the season, and aside from pulling off the biggest upset in school history against a then-No. 4 Wisconsin team playing without eventual National Player of the Year Frank Kaminsky, there weren’t many positives before the skid either.Having lost their two best players from last season — point guard Myles Mack and power forward Kadeem Jack — to graduation, as well as the productive Junior Etou after he transferred to Tulsa, the Knights look to returning players and newcomers alike to fill in the gaps left behind.But while all the media attention is on the incoming freshman class — especially highly touted point guard Corey Sanders — and returning seniors Bishop Daniels and Greg Lewis, a couple of rising sophomores who faced similar struggles as the program they play for last season are quietly ready to take on more important roles for Rutgers.Sophomore point guard Mike Williams was recruited to Piscataway due to his ability to shoot the ball and put points on the board.
In a school with over 30,000 undergraduates and nearly
10,000 students per graduating class, it can be hard for anyone to stand out at
a University like Rutgers.Personality is an important factor in determining which
paths wide-eyed freshmen take when they arrive on campus in late August for the
fall semester and the next four years of their lives.
Coaches generally like to have balance in their roster in terms of newcomers and veterans.It helps breed competition and discourages complacency while creating natural leadership situations in which seniors will help guide freshmen through the rigors of the season.For the Rutgers women’s basketball team, there is an even split between freshmen and seniors on the roster — five apiece.
Tyler Scaife has achieved plenty during her first two seasons at Rutgers.The junior guard was named the American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year in 2013 after leading all freshmen in the conference with 14.5 points per game.She followed that up with a strong performance during the Rutgers women’s basketball team’s inaugural season in the Big Ten, starting in all 33 games for the Scarlet Knights and being named an Honorable Mention All-Big Ten member by the coaches and media.But the Little Rock, Arkansas, native has dealt with more than just the conference change in her time on the Banks.
They say this year will be different.Entering the 2015-16 season, the Rutgers women's basketball team is poised to push its play to new heights after faltering in the latter portion of last season.The Scarlet Knights started fast in 2014, ripping off 20 wins in their first 26 games.
When Shaquille Doorson thinks back to his freshman season a year ago, mixed feelings enter the mind of the 6-foot-11 center.First, his eyes light up and he cracks a smile when he reminisces about the largest upset in program history — the Rutgers men’s basketball team’s improbable 67-62 triumph past then-No. 4 Wisconsin.
On the biggest day for the Rutgers men’s basketball team in months, Eddie Jordan opened his press conference at the Rutgers men’s basketball team’s Media Day on Tuesday by slipping in a reminder that the New York Mets play Game 1 of the World Series later on that night.Then he returned to the excitement that has been boiling around his new-look team — one brimming with rejuvenated athleticism and experience from a year ago.“I think it’s a big day for us,” Jordan said in his opening statement.
It was so close that one single winner couldn’t be picked.The historical seasons put on display over the past year by Jackie Bates and Betnijah Laney ultimately led to the pair of athletes sharing The Daily Targum’s Co-Female Athletes of the Year.While Bates enters the final leg of her senior year patrolling centerfield for the Rutgers softball team as the Big Ten Tournament in Columbus, Ohio, looms on Thursday, Laney’s career season has been in the books since March.Over the span of the Rutgers women’s basketball team’s 2014-15 campaign, the Scarlet Knights compiled a 23-10 overall record with a 12-6 mark in their first year as a member of the Big Ten.Laney was the biggest pillar for the Scarlet Knights’ success.After seeing gradual improvement throughout each of her first three years, Laney broke out to leave a lasting legacy in her final season on the banks.
Junior center Greg Lewis was one of two Knights to start and play in every game in 2014, averaging 5.3 points and finishing third on the team in rebounds with 143.
During the final home game of a college sports team’s season, it is customary to honor the home team’s senior athletes before or after the game in what will be their final time wearing their school's home uniform.This yearly tradition is done to recognize the student-athletes who usually dedicated four or more years of their lives to a program as a commemorative parting gift.No senior was more deserving of that recognition this season than Rutgers men’s basketball guard Myles Mack.The Daily Targum’s Senior of the Year experienced much more adversity than the typical college athlete would during a four-year career.That came courtesy of the Mike Rice scandal, which plastered a scarlet letter on the Scarlet Knights’ basketball program.But as other teammates left for greener pastures and to avoid the relentless media criticism, Mack’s mind never wavered, electing to stay with the Knights simply because he loved representing his home state.His reward for staying was not an NCAA Tournament berth — which would have been the programs first since 1991 — nor was it even a single winning season.Instead, Mack will go down as one of the greatest players to ever don a Rutgers basketball jersey.The Paterson, New Jersey, native ends his career as a Knight as fourth all-time in assists, seventh in scoring and second in steals behind only current head coach Eddie Jordan.Coming from national powerhouse St.
Progression doesn’t happen overnight.It takes time, effort and a willingness to consistently improve with each passing day, regardless of how much raw talent someone has at their disposal.Junior center Greg Lewis epitomizes how hard work and determination eventually has its payoff.The Daily Targum’s Most Improved Player didn’t garner nearly as much recognition as his fellow tri-captains in seniors Myles Mack and Kadeem Jack, but his game showed vast improvements from a year ago.In the 2013-14 season, Lewis played in all 32 games but started in just one, averaging 1.5 points per game and 2 rebounds in 9.8 minutes per game.This season, the Baltimore, Maryland, native again made 32 appearances — only this time he started in every single one, making him and Mack the only Scarlet Knights to play and start every game this season.His minutes also spiked to 23.8 per game while averaging 5.3 points and finishing third on the team in total rebounds.Out of context, the numbers appear to be miniscule improvements.
In a rematch of two former Big East rivals, the 8-seed Rutgers women’s basketball team fell once again to the top-seeded Connecticut Huskies, 91-55, last night.Despite an impassioned effort in the first 10 minutes by the Scarlet Knights, the Huskies proved why they are considered the favorite to win their third national championship in a row.
In what ended up being her final game as a Scarlet Knight, senior wing Betnijah Laney managed to chip in 11 points and just four rebounds. Rutgers struggled all night long to keep up with top-seeded UConn, which advanced to the Sweet 16 after pounding Rutgers, 91-56, on its home floor in Storrs.
CHICAGO — It was all but over, and Bishop Daniels didn't know what to do except sink and shake his head in dejection.The junior guard breathed heavily as he walked off the United Center's hardwood with 76 seconds left in regulation, high-fiving his teammates sitting on the bench one at a time.He had given it his all: several step-back jumpers, a few slick reverse lay-ins and one electrifying, fully extended one-handed slam dunk in transition.
Head coach Eddie Jordan called the Big Ten Tournament the start of a new season, and to the Rutgers men’s basketball team’s credit, it played like it was.Unfortunately for the Scarlet Knights, the game ended with the same result: a 15th straight defeat.
With the regular season and Big Ten Tournament over, there is only one thing the Rutgers women’s basketball team can do now — wait.Wait for a potential spot in the NCAA Tournament, a proposition that has eluded the Scarlet Knights since 2012.After last year’s downward spiral and losing four of their last six games, the Knights were omitted from the tournament field by the selection committee.
Myles Mack pulls up for a deep three from beyond the top of the key against Minnesota on March 11 at the United Center in Chicago. Despite 15 points and a game-high four steals from the senior guard, the Knights' season ended after an 80-68 loss to the Golden Gophers in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament.
Junior guard Bishop Daniels follows through on a violent one-hand slam on March 11 in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament in Chicago. Daniels lit the United Center up with his athletic play, but his 15 points weren't enough as the Knights fell, 80-68.
Despite a roller coaster end to the season, senior wing Betnijah Laney and the Knights remain determined that their overall resume bodes well for their at-large NCAA Tournament hopes.
After a disappointing individual shooting performance on Senior Night, senior forward Kadeem Jack looks to rebound in a strong showing in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament against Minnesota.