The Fred Hill fiasco is finally done. Hill resigned Monday afternoon after a chaotic two- week period following allegations of a "profanity-laced tirade" against Pittsburgh baseball coaches. That incident was enough for Tim Pernetti to get rid of the 51-year-old coach. The only question was when and for how much it would take to show Fred the door.
In other news, Mike Rosario decided on Sunday to become a Florida Gator. He will sit out next year due to NCAA Transfer rules and will play in the 2011-12 season as a junior. He should thrive under Billy Donavan at the U of F, especially since he will be surrounded by Chandler Parsons, Erving Walker, and Kenny Boyton among others. But with the loss of their head coach and leading scorer, where do the Scarlet Knights stand?
Obviously, the Rutgers basketball program is in a free fall at the moment. But now that Fred Hill is out of the picture, a new coach can be hired and the Scarlet Knights could be headed in a positive direction. The short list for potential coaches consists of Eddie Jordan, Jim O'Brien, Billie Gillispie, and Fran Fraschilla. The name that pops out at me is recently fired 76ers coach, Eddie Jordan.
Jordan is a Rutgers alum who played for the Scarlet Knights in the 70's, including the sensational 1976 Final Four squad. He also has a pretty impressive coaching resume'. He has been coaching in the NBA for nearly 20 years, mostly as an assistant. Though, over the past 7 years, he has been the head coach for the Wizards and then the 76ers. Aside from the NBA-caliber coaching you get with him, Jordan also offers a recruiting appeal that Fred Hill simply did not. Although Hill did bring some great recruiting classes to "The Banks," he could never gain an edge in the recruiting of New Jersey prospects. Eddie Jordan might appeal to recruits due to his coaching credentials.
The coach who would be the second best option is Billie Gillispie. Although he had a bitter end at Kentucky, he certainly has been around two top notch programs. He thrived at Texas A&M from 2004-07 and then moved on to Kentucky, arguably the greatest college basketball program in the history of college basketball. He, similarly to Jordan, could have a major recruiting appeal and could nab some of those NJ recruits that seem to always get away.
In regards to the roster, it doesn't look too bright, at least for the moment. The best recruiting class in Rutgers history is all gone (Rosario, Gregory Echenique, Patrick Jackson, and Christian Morris have all transferred). Their leader, Hamady N'Diaye, is graduating this year. Their prized recruit out of St. Benedicts, Power Forward Gil Biruta, wants out of his Letter of Intent. The roster, at this point, looks to be around 8-10 total players. That includes the two or three bench warmers who haven't seen more than a handful of minutes at Rutgers.
So what will the rotation look like in the 2010-11 season? The backcourt will rotate James Beatty, a great all around point guard, Mike Coburn, a scoring point guard, and Austin Carroll, a shooting guard who can hit the three with consistency. The forwards do-it-all freshman sensation Dane Miller, who is poised to become a star in the Big East, and Jonathan Mitchell, a former Gator who had great year starting for the Scarlet Knights. At the center position, Brian Okam, a raw but developing 7-footer, and Austin Johnson, an athletic post player, will take over.
There is what to work with for the new head coach. If that coach can bring in a solid JuCo transfer, Rutgers could have a lineup that could stay avoid embarrasment, and maybe even win a few games in the process. My question is if Mike Rosario's transfer could prove to be addition by subtraction.
Rosario is an elite scorer no doubt. But it seemed to me that when he was on the floor, there was no continuity. He would take bad shots and waste precious possessions. Perhaps, this year, the Scarlet Knights will have an opportunity to work the ball around and get the best shot possible, especially under Eddie Jordan, who runs a Princeton-style offense.
Maybe role players from last year could emerge with a bigger role. Maybe the raw but talented players could develop under a big name coach. Maybe Rutgers could emerge from the Big East's basement. Who knows? I can only hope they can hire a quality coach and escape the embarrassment that has been the Rutgers basketball program over the past 4 years.
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