BIG Game 3: Gophers Visit Rutgers (1-6-22)

Ignatius L Hoops

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THE MORE RUTGERS CHANGES…

Remember last season’s Scarlet Knights? Their five leading scorers were: Arella Guirantes, Zipporah Broughton, Mael Gilles, Diamond Johnson and Tekia Mack. They were coached by Hall of Famer C Vivian Stringer. Rutgers endured a slow start to the Big Ten season going 1-3 with losses to Maryland, Nebraska, and Iowa. The only win was over the benign Badgers. Then Covid forced the postponement of seven straight games.

Following the involuntary break, a rejuvenated Scarlet Knight squad ran off 9 consecutive victories to finish the B1G season 10-3 and earn a bid to the NCAA tournament. The fourth victim in the string was Minnesota who were swept away 83-56. Klarke Sconiers led the Gophers with 13 points and 8 rebounds. Sara Scalia was the only other Gopher in double figures with 12 points. Rutgers were led by Johnson with 26, Guirantes 22 and Mack with 12.

Nevertheless, the season ended with a thud. Rutgers was dispatched by Iowa in the Big Ten Tournament 73-62. More surprisingly, the Scarlet Knights were jettisoned from the first round of the NCAA tournament by 11th seeded BYU 69-66.

Change arrived quickly on the banks of the Old Raritan. Guirantes graduated, Broughton set sail for Florida, Johnson headed down Tobacco Road to N C State, Gilles we encountered wandering the Arizona State desert and Mack transferred to Chi Town’s DePaul before disappearing into the ether. Later it was disclosed that C Vivian Stringer, because of health concerns related to covid, had stepped away from coaching the upcoming season and turned the reins over to Timothy Eatman.

Eatman was well known. The replacements for the departed players were not. Eatman had stepped in as the interim head coach on a couple of previous occasions. Eatman and his staff mined the transfer portal for experience: guard Shug Dickson arrived from Missouri, forward Osh Brown from Ball State, forward Lasha Petree from Bradley, guard Jailyn Mason from Arkansas, guard Sayawni Lassiter from Florda State and Victoria Morris from Old Dominion. Five graduate students and a senior. And they could score (from Rutgers before the Purdue game):

The Scarlet Knights are the only team in NCAA Division I to boast four current 1,000-point scorers on the 2021-22 roster: Osh Brown (1,604), Lasha Petree (1,489), Victoria Morris (1,437), and Jailyn Mason (1,008) combining for 5,538 points. Shug Dickson has 978 and is 22 points away from becoming the fifth member of the Rutgers Millenials.

Yes, there were some Scarlet Knights who remained in Piscataway. Two of the most prominent were junior 6’2” forward Tyia Singleton who saw some time as a starter last season and 6’5” Sakima Walker whom Eatman seems to be working into the lineup.

The Scarlet Knights are a veteran team assembled for a one-off season.

…THE MORE RUTGERS REMAINS THE SAME

However, Rutgers remains Rutgers. They are the Big Ten’s worse offensive team (57.27 ppg) and its best defensive team (55.27 ppg). They are terrible shooters hitting .258 from three and .401 from the field. All the Rutgers offense jokes still apply. They remain, for long stretches, the most unwatchable offense in women’s basketball. Their defense is an acquired taste. But it’s not been all that helpful. The Scarlet Knights force 18 turnovers per game; but commit 20. They can’t get out of their own way.

Despite an easy non-conference schedule, Rutgers are again off to a slow start. The highlight of the non-con schedule was an overtime 69-66 win versus Harvard. It’s a highlight only because the Scarlet Knights managed to trail the Crimson by 18 entering the fourth quarter.

The B1G season hasn’t produced such a highlight. Although, 0-3 Rutgers has had its Big Ten moments.

  • With 7:14 remaining the Scarlet Knights cut a Maryland lead to 4 at 52-56 before the Terps danced away.
  • Against Penn State, Rutgers led 44-42 with 5:46 remaining before the Lady Lions emerged victorious.
  • In the battle against Purdue, the Scarlet Knights recovered from a 20 point third quarter deficient only to watch Purdue sink a buzzer beating layup for a 60-58 win. Rutgers played the game short handed with only 12 available players. One of the players missing was Shug Dickson. Without her, the Scarlet Knights were a mess. To finish anywhere near Purdue and Rutgers in the standings would be an embarrassment.
WHAT TO EXPECT

Timothy Eatman, still sorting out his lineup and perhaps his coaching, has used 12 different starters and has no one averaging more than 29 minutes a game and four averaging 20+. By comparison, Lindsay Whalen, still sorting out her lineup and perhaps her coaching, has used 8 different starters and has one player, Sara Scalia, averaging more than 32 minutes per game and four averaging more than 20+.

While Rutgers is a struggling team, there are potential problems lurking for the Gophers.

In a game of matchups, one of the first to watch is Osh Brown versus Rose Micheaux. The 6’1” Brown is a fiendish rebounder who is averaging 9.1 rebounds per game. Brown had 9 points and 19 rebounds against Harvard and 20 and 20 versus DePaul. The Ball State transfer arrived in Rutgers as the NCAA’s leader in total rebounds and double double’s. And Brown’s back up is 6’5” center Sakima Walker. Walker, a former high school teammate of Alexis Smith, is due for a break-out game. Helgren should look forward to preventing one.

Rutger’s other starting post is 6’1” Tyia Singleton. Singleton matches up with Kadi Sissoko in more ways than one. Both are prone to turnovers and fouls. Sissoko is the much superior player-if she can stay on the court. Singleton averages 19 minutes and 6 points per game.

The point guard spot features 5’10” Shug Dickson versus Jasmine Powell. Dickson spent one season at Missouri following two seasons at Tulsa. At Missouri, her 4 assists/game were 7th in the SEC. This season Dickson had an excellent game against Maryland with 18 points, five rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals. She’s also adept at throwing the occasional no-looker. Jasmine’s certainly has the better offense; but Powell needs to keep the pressure on Dickson. Or, perhaps, Dickson who was unavailable for the Purdue game will be unavailable on Thursday.

The match up of three-point specialists should be a rout. Bradley transfer Lasha Petree was a two-time First Team All-MVC selection following her Freshman of the Year award. Petree was also an MVC All-Defensive team member. Petree leads Rutgers shooting 14-42 from three. Okay, stop snickering. Yes, Sara Scalia should dominate the offensive side of this battle.

Of course, both coaches have a mix and match approach to in game decisions; so we can expect some unusual combos as Eatman and Whalen look for a path to that first B1G win.



RUTGERS B1G RECORD (0-3):

Wins:
None

Losses: Maryland 59-73, @ Penn State 48-52 and @ Purdue 58-60.



Shug Dickson Last Six Games:

TeamPtsRebAsstMinFoul
Maryland1855334
Penn State1065370
Delaware State226201
Cent. Conn. St.DNP
Wagner608322
PurdueDNP


Tyia Singleton Last Six Games:

TeamPtsRebAsstMinFoul
Maryland10120314
Penn State1251175
Delaware St.840203
Cent. Conn. St.1690311
Wagner1370222
Purdue220133



Probable Starters:

HGTPOSYRPLAYERMINAVGREB
5’10”GGSShug Dickson28,88,13.6
6’2”FRJrTyia Singleton18,78,13,6
6’1”FGSOsh Brown27,98,28,9
6’0”GSrLasha Petree21.36.33.3
5’9”GGSJailyn Mason24.53.62.1
5’8”GGSVictoria Morris13.14.9.7


Others:

HGTPOSYRPLAYERMINAVGREB
6’5”CSrSakima Walker13.15.63.1
5’10”GGSSayawni Lassiter16.33.22.1
5’11”GJrAwa Sidibe10.34.12.0
6’3”FSoChyna Cornwell7.82.61.8
6’0”GRSoJoiya Maddox13.62.41.0
 


Ignatius L Hoops

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An easy 38-25 Gopher lead at the half. Powell with 15 points. Rutgers baffled.
 




tripledouble

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Well, if we're going to play zone, Rutgers is a good team to do it against. Helgren with a couple buckets and a decent job of keeping Cornwell off the offensive boards. I continue to be surprised at what a non-factor Sissoko is at this stage of her career. Winters, Scalia and Powell with almost all of the offensive production so far. No PT for Mershon. Injured?
 

Bunyan

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Powell trying to drive for layups on multiple defenders and Scalia launching 35 footers. Need a better offense strategy. Not impressed by Rutgers so far.
 

BBJones

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So have the Gophers ever had a player with a larger gap between athletic ability and actual performance as Sissoko?
 

whalenfan

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I notice Sconiers and Cumming arent there tonight and Mershon is on the bench wearing a mask and hasnt played. Wonder how much covid has impacted the team.
 



Bunyan

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Rutgers is going to compete for the bottom of the BIG10 this year.
 


tripledouble

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Gophers previously 0-6 on the road vs. Rutgers. Scalia a dreadful shooting night with 3 of 14 but 9 rebounds. Powell the Gophers best player tonight.
 

MNGirlsHoops

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Our zone didnt look bad and it protected Sissoko until she finally found some confidence. Rutgers game plan / coaching was the worst I have seen in a long time, they didnt even foul at the end.. They were lost offensively against our zone for the most part.. Why would that team not press 40 min and play 12 players in doing so.. just a terrible game plan by rutgers... We struggled offensively especially in the 2nd half as we stopped moving the ball and we got out of rhythm.
a win is a win! Dont be surprised if we give maryland a game
 



Ignatius L Hoops

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In his post game presser Timothy Eatman said covid issues have caused practice problems. Before the Purdue game they had two players available for practices. He thinks players are just beginning to get their legs under them. "We've been away from the court so long."

Here's the highlights:

 

gopherdudepart2

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It was a nice win. Hopefully we can bring the best against Maryland. After Frese said "run them out of the gym," I always want to see the Gophers play the Terps tough.
 

Katogopher

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Good to see them win but I don’t think this was their best game, Rutgers tends to do that against most teams and I’m sure the long layoff didn’t help either. Still waiting for that game when Powell, Sissoko and Scalia are all clicking at the same time. Maryland game would be a good time to start. Glad to see that they went to the low post a few times and Helgren was able to contribute. If I remember correctly that was where Maryland was vulnerable last year? Would be good to see Micheaux have another breakout game.
 


fanfromthevalley

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I notice Sconiers and Cumming arent there tonight and Mershon is on the bench wearing a mask and hasnt played. Wonder how much covid has impacted the team.
Sconiers, Cumming, Mershon, Czinano and Scalia were not at the loyalty program open practice on January 3. That fact that Sconiers and Cumming don't appear to have traveled with team to
Rutgers would indicate likely some positive tests for some players?
 




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