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The biggest takeaway for Rutgers men’s basketball following overseas trip

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Rutgers men’s basketball returned from its overseas trip on Saturday. The 11 day experience in Senegal and Portugal will have a definitely impact on the players and everyone involved in the program. And while it was a positive to see RU win all three exhibition games on the trip, there shouldn’t be too many takeaways from the results. Rather, there is one clear identity shift that occurred that is the biggest takeaway from the trip as a whole.

Head coach Steve Pikiell has made a clear offensive shift on its overseas trip and it’s a major positive for both this team and the future. The emphasis for Rutgers in playing an up tempo style and prioritizing the three-point shot were major changes from every prior team in the Pikiell Era.

The Scarlet Knights made 48 of 100 attempts from three-point range for an impressive 48.0%. Shooting from behind the arc by Aundre Hyatt, Gavin Griffiths, Noah Fernandes, Oskar Palmquist and Antonio Chol helped Rutgers make such a leap.

Not only does playing at a faster pace with the intent to create space by attacking off the dribble fit modern college basketball and the current Rutgers personnel, but it also makes sense with the elite offensive talent that Steve Pikiell is stockpiling. With Ace Bailey committed and Dylan Harper a top priority, the program could be in line for a dramatic leap forward in the 2024-2025 season.

When Pikiell took over Rutgers, he forged a defensive identity around the roster he had. As the years have passed and the talent and depth has improved dramatically, making the change on offense now makes sense. It doesn’t mean defense won’t still be a priority. It will. However, it also means playing a style that top offensive players want to play in.

With the departure of Paul Mulcahy, Pikiell was able to adapt into more of a up tempo style a year earlier than expected. That should benefit both this year’s team and beyond.

Overseas Game Recaps: Senegal I, Portugal I, Portugal II

Listen and watch my full breakdown of the trip, the critical offensive shift that Steve Pikiell is clearly implementing, the early returns from the overseas trip including shooting from behind the arc, the personnel on the current team and why a new focus on offense makes sense both now and in the future plus more.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. BataliBoli98

    August 21, 2023 at 10:53 pm

    Couldn’t agree more about the change in philosophy especially now that Pikiell has guys who can really attack the basket. The irony of course is that a team that has more guys capable of beating their man off of the dribble often leads to more shots from deep. The comparison of the program’s evolution under Pikiell to how Calhoun built UCONN is spot on. I grew up in the 1980s and watched Georgetown, Syracuse, and St. John’s seemingly dominate the league. I would never have imagined that UCONN under Calhoun would win 3 National Championships. That is 1 more than John Thompson (1), Jim Boeheim (1), and Louie Carnesecca (0) combined. On a completely separate note, sounds like bad news for Jeremiah Williams.

  2. pj43

    August 26, 2023 at 12:41 pm

    Great interview, Aaron. Dare I say it?! Yes, I like the apparent upgrade in athleticism, ability to attack the rim and 3 ball shooting ability, but I’d rest more easy if the up tempo style that Pikiell envisions is accompanied by a consistent half court offense, ball movement and ability to convert at the rim. Yes, I realize that I’m a broken record so I’ll go back to focusing on the football season.

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