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Exhibition allows RU to experiment with lineup

Rutgers men’s basketball fans will expectedly give head coach Eddie Jordan a resounding cheer when the Scarlet Knights first step on the court tonight for an exhibition against Caldwell.

“Well, I hope so,” Jordan said. “Let’s see if they’re cheering when we’re down.”

If Rutgers trails against the Division-II foe at the Louis Brown Athletic Center, it likely will not be for long.

The exhibition allows Jordan to experiment with plays and lineup combinations before Rutgers opens its regular season next Friday against Florida A&M.

“So far we have sort of like two teams that we’ve been playing with,” Jordan said. “I still want to see some of the second team [play with] the first team. And do I have a top seven or eight? Probably not. I’ve got 11 guys.”

With only eight returning members from last year’s roster, the team has yet to display its new identity to a crowd.

The first newcomer to play might be senior wing J.J. Moore, who transferred from Pittsburgh and received immediate eligibility.

Moore averaged eight points and three rebounds per game last year with Pittsburgh but never became a complete defensive player. He said he improved that facet since coming to Rutgers.

“Help defense definitely improved,” Moore said. “On-the-ball defense definitely improved. I lacked that for three years and just coming here.”

But overall, Rutgers’ defense must improve after last weekend’s scrimmage against Saint Peter’s. The amount of fouling, starting with helping issues in Rutgers’ pick-and-roll defense, dissatisfied Jordan.

“We’ve got to get better at doing what we want to do without fouling,” Jordan said. “We don’t want to make an adjustment in the way we play yet as far as X’s and O’s. We want to will our personality on the game.”

Jordan also wants the team to improve man-to-man defense before following a collegiate trend and implementing more zone.

That means more players need to prove themselves as reliable defenders.

“Just coming out here now, I’m trying to lock in,” Moore said, smashing his fist to his palm, “up to the point where if Coach [Jordan] needs me to guard any guard, I can do it.”

Most importantly, Rutgers finally has greater priorities than damage control after former head coach Mike Rice’s firing.

For the first time in more than half a year, this exhibition can finally give Rutgers fans something to cheer about.

“It’s [just] the next game,” said senior forward Wally Judge. “We’ve been moved on. As far as the past goes, we have nothing else to prove or take away from that because it’s a completely new team — new face, new program, new conference. It’s a completely new everything, so why linger on what has already happened?”

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