It hasn’t been a successful first season for Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan. Wins against Canisius and Temple have been off-set by a 4-10 conference record (10-17 overall), and the Scarlet Knights haven’t been able to post consecutive victories since the New Year. However, the team’s struggles shouldn’t detract from the play of Kadeem Jack, the team’s sole bright spot and arguably the nation’s most underappreciated junior.
To recap how the forward ended up in Piscataway: Jack wasn’t highly-regarded on the recruiting trail until the summer before his senior year at Rice High School, when high-majors like Arizona and North Carolina began to recruit the 6-foot-9 Jack. Rather than venture far from his NYC-based home, Jack committed to Rutgers. A redshirt his first season, Jack was a solid role player the next two years, and while he remained a Scarlet Knight following the firing of Mike Rice (and Jordan’s subsequent hiring), his outbursts this season was very much unexpected.
What’s accounted for Jack’s surprising play? Being more efficient at the rim. Athleticism has never plagued Jack — the forward can play above the rim — but Jack often couldn’t finish around the bucket. As a sophomore, 53 percent of Jack’s shots were in the paint, but he only converted 52 percent of those attempts. His percentage of takes has decreased (to 40 percent), but Jack is now connecting on a whopping 69 percent of those shots (per Hoop-Math.com). The result of this aggressiveness is more free throw attempts: a trip to the line for Jack used to incite heart palpitations for the Rutgers’ faithful, but Jack — whose taken 125 free throws in 2014, as compared 54 a season ago — is nearly converting 70 percent of his free throws. Jack is the Scarlet Knights’ most efficient offensive player, one whom Jordan has noted will have to carry the team if RU is going to make a push in the AAC tournament. As well as Jack has already played this year, a recent shift in Rutgers’ lineup could enable Jack to score more frequently — Jordan has said he would like to play Jack at center, noting the advantages (specifically, speed) he has versus opposing 5s. During the recent loss to Memphis, Jack started the second half at center and scored 18 points in the final twenty minutes.
Three more players filing lawsuits against Mike Rice, Rutgers?
The number of former players that appear to be taking legal action against Rutgers and former head coach Mike Rice has grown to four.
In December, Derrick Randall, who has since transferred to Pitt, filed a lawsuit against Rice, a former assistant coach and the former Athletics Director, among others, over the mental, emotional and physical abuse he suffered during his time with the Scarlett Knights. Randall, who has learning disabilities, also claimed that Rice and company violated his civil rights and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The university released letters from attorneys for Jerome Seagears, who is still on the Scarlet Knights roster, along with former teammates Robert Lumpkins and Dane Miller, who either filed notices of claim in connection with their treatment at the hands of Rice, or letters of representation asking Rutgers to preserve all evidence related to the students.
None of the students has gone to court.
Rice was fired on April 3rd, just days after a video was released of him throwing balls at his players, cursing at them and calling them gay slurs. One of his assistants appeared to challenge some of the players to fight. A number of higher-ups in the athletic department, including Athletics Director Tim Pernetti, lost their jobs as well. They saw the video in December and suspended Rice while fining him.
Former Rutgers player Derrick Randall is suing the university over the way he was treated during Mike Rice’s tenure as the school’s head coach.
The lawsuit was filed in the state’s federal court on Friday and names Rice, former assistant coach James Martelli, the university, school president Robert Barchi, former AD Tim Pernetti, CFO Janine Purcaro, and chairman of the board of governors Mark Hershhorn as defendants.
On April 3rd of this year, a video was released that showed Rice verbally abusing his players — cursing at them, yelling gay slurs at them — as well as throwing basketballs at their heads and feet. Martelli was even more confrontational in the video, at times looking as if he was challenging players to fight.
In the lawsuit, Randall claims that Rice’s actions led to the player losing all confidence in his abilities, which affected his ability to perform both on and off the court. He claims that the other defendants knew about Rice’s actions and failed to do anything about it.
“”The outrageous, intimidating and abusive conduct to which Derrick was subjected included Coach Rice hurling basketballs at his head and legs and hitting, grabbing, striking and shoving him,” the complaint states, according to Courthouse News Services. “Coach Rice verbally, mentally, and emotionally abused Derrick through violent screaming, cursing and other humiliation tactics, including the use of homophobic slurs and other shockingly derogatory and discriminatory name calling. A photograph of Coach Rice grabbing Derrick by the neck and face on the bench during a game, with Derrick looking completely lost and helpless, speaks volumes, as does the video of such abusive behavior.”
Here’s the kicker, from that same Courthouse News story:
Randall, who has learning disabilities, seeks damages and punitive damages for assault and battery, negligence, gross negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, interference with prospective economic advantage, discrimination, and violations of his civil rights and of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act.
Randall transferred to Pitt during the offseason. He’s averaging 3.1 points and 4.8 boards in 15.3 minutes for Jamie Dixon’s club.
All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here.
It was one of the more memorable and heartbreaking games of the 2010 NCAA Tournament.
Robert Morris, coached then by Mike Rice, had No. 2 seed Villanova on the ropes that Thursday afternoon in Providence leading for much of the game only to have the Wildcats eke out a 73-70 win in overtime. Color commentator Bill Raftery summed up the game perfectly following the gut-wrenching loss that left dynamite freshman point guard Karon Abraham motionless on the floor: “They only lost on the scoreboard, Vern.”
Much of the appeal of the NCAA Tournament is watching schools seldom heard of win a game and advance to the next round, and it looked like No. 15 seed Robert Morris was on their way to doing just that. Despite the deflating loss, the Colonials were becoming a household name in the NEC and mid-major basketball.
Fast forward three years and the program is under new leadership with Andy Toole at the helm. While Robert Morris hasn’t been back to the NCAA Tournament since 2010, they’ve been to the postseason and won games two of the past three seasons. Toole would tell you there was already momentum building even before Rice took over as head coach in 2008. It began with Mark Schmidt, the current head coach at St. Bonaventure, the prior season as they went 26-8 and nearly upset Syracuse in the NIT. Up until this point, Robert Morris was buried in obscurity. They hadn’t been to the NCAA Tournament in nearly 20 years and many didn’t know much about the school and basketball program.
Toole told NBCSports.com by phone: “We were hitting wall after wall after wall in terms of people not knowing what Robert Morris and our basketball team was all about at that point in time. After going to the NCAA Tournament and almost beating Villanova, we started getting call backs; they had a point of reference after seeing us in the NCAA Tournament back to back years. That game legitimized us.”
While the Villanova game may have legitimized Robert Morris, it was their NIT win at home over Kentucky last season that placed them at the forefront of the college basketball world.
It was the perfect storm for Andy Toole and his program. On the heels of being upset in the NEC tournament by Mount St. Mary’s, Robert Morris was paired with Kentucky — the 2012 NCAA Champions — in the first round of the NIT. Since Rupp Arena was one of the eight venues for the second and third rounds of the NCAA Tournament, Kentucky was forced to travel to Moon Township to play Robert Morris at Robert Morris. The game was played on a Tuesday night, which allowed for a nice buffer period in between Selection Sunday and the Thursday games. After their win over Kentucky, the talk all day Wednesday wasn’t about the NCAA Tournament, but rather the NIT. Again, it was the perfect storm.
“This year with the win against Kentucky, that put us on center stage for a few days because of some incredible timing and incredible circumstances. This was another perfect opportunity for people to learn about the program.”
It wasn’t long ago that Robert Morris was struggling to just have conversations with top recruits that they were targeting, but now that conversation is much easier to come by. Toole explained while the recent success and exposure doesn’t always lead to landing top-flight recruits, they are now in contention for them. “It doesn’t guarantee that we’re always going to get the recruits. We still have to do our due diligence to make sure we are targeting the right kids for our school and program, but we are at a starting point that is so much different than it was six years ago.
The exposure Robert Morris has generated on a national level since 2009 has helped to elevate the program to another level and, predictably, that is paying great dividends. Specifically, the geographical footprint that Toole and his staff are now recruiting from has vastly expanded.
“We are recruiting from a much wider geographic area. We were in Florida recruiting and people recognized us. We were recruiting a kid from Kansas and people recognized us. We have a kid on this year’s team (Desjuan Newton) who played junior college in Arizona and is originally from Seattle and he knew about the [Kentucky] game.”
The key now is to sustain the momentum that has been building since 2009, which will be no easy task as the NEC has steadily improved as a league. “You see a lot of young staffs in the NEC who are trying to make names for themselves. They’re really getting out there and recruiting, and maybe not taking the same old thought process of, ‘Well, we’re just a Northeast Conference school, that kids not going to want to come here.’ That’s not the case. I think you see that across the board and why the programs are getting better and better.”
While Toole has continued the momentum his predecessors Schmidt and Rice began, he has yet to win the NEC and advance to the NCAA Tournament. Nearly defeating Villanova in 2010 and beating Kentucky in 2013 may have been steps one and two. The next step is getting back to the NCAA Tournament and winning a game, something Robert Morris hasn’t accomplished in 30 years.
Former Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti, who resigned in the wake of the Mike Rice practice video scandal, has found a new job, and announced that he had joined on with New York City Football Club, as the future MLS club’s Chief Business Officer.
Pernetti resigned from his post at his alma mater on Apr. 5, two days after basketball coach Mike Rice was fired. A video surfaced in April showing Rice being verbally and physically abusive towards his players during practices. Pernetti handled the issue in November, fining and suspending Rice for three games and ordered him to undergo sensitivity training. Once the video came to light, it cost both men their jobs.
Despite the controversy, Pernetti was a successful AD during his tenure with the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers wouldn’t be set to join the Big Ten Conference next season if it weren’t for his efforts.
The New York FC was announced in May of this year, and intends to compete in the MLS in the 2015 season.
Another former Rutgers Scarlet Knight has been granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA.
Following in the footsteps of Mike Poole (Iona) and Vincent Garrett (Green Bay), Pittsburgh forward Derrick Randall’s request for an immediate eligibility waiver has been granted according to Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News. The decision gives Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon some additional depth in the front court, a needed boost give the graduation of Dante Taylor and the departures of Steven Adams (NBA Draft) and J.J. Moore (transferred to Rutgers).
Randall wasn’t all that productive as a Scarlet Knight last season, averaging 2.1 points and 1.5 rebounds per game as a sophomore. In two seasons at Rutgers, Randall posted averages of 2.3 points and 1.9 rebounds per game, averaging just under ten minutes per game.
Randall’s addition gives the Panthers some needed interior experience as the program enters its first season in the ACC. Seniors Lamar Patterson (10.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg) and Talib Zanna (9.6, 6.1) will be asked to lead the way, with junior college transfer Joseph Uchebo in line for significant playing time as well. Pitt also adds one of the better front court prospects in the 2013 class in power forward Mike Young, who played alongside Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis at St. Benedict’s Prep in New Jersey.
With Randall being allowed to play immediately this leaves Florida guard Eli Carter as the lone Rutgers transfer awaiting a decision from the NCAA. If the prior three rulings have any impact on the NCAA’s decision regarding Carter, one would assume that he’s got a good shot of being eligible to play immediately as well.
But on the other side, can Rutgers fans be blamed for wondering why players who left the school are having their waivers granted while Kerwin Okoro, whose decision to transfer to Rutgers from Iowa State was heavily influenced by the passing of both his father and brother within a three-month span, had his request denied? Rutgers has appealed the decision regarding Okoro’s status, so there’s always the chance that things could change on that front.
Congrats to the three former Rutgers players who had their requests granted, but it’s tough to figure out the reasoning behind some of these decisions. And that’s not the players’ faults.