This post was written by contributing sports editor Sean Hurd.
Who: Rutgers University
When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Where: Smith Center
After finishing third at the Wooden Legacy Tournament in California last weekend, the Colonials continue non-conference play Wednesday night when they host Rutgers at the Smith Center. It will be the 42nd meeting between the two schools. Last season, the Scarlet Knights beat the Colonials 68-55.
Case for Rutgers:
It’s been all about adjustment for Rutgers in this early season. The Scarlet Knights began the season in a new conference – the American Atlantic Conference – along with powerhouses UConn, Cincinnati, Louisville and Memphis. They also found themselves under the direction of a new head coach in Eddie Jordan, who would take over a Scarlet Knights team without six players from last season’s roster, including two-time leading scorer Eli Carter.
Result: Through their first eight games the season, the Scarlet Knights are just 4-4.
The Scarlet Knights are led by redshirt junior Kadeem Jack who leads the team with 15.6 points and 7.9 rebounds per game off an impressive 54.8 shooting percentage. Jack is one of four Rutgers players to average double figures in scoring, closely followed by senior forward JJ Moore and junior guard Myles Mack, who are averaging 13.8 and 13.6 points, respectively.
As a team, Rutgers does not put up dominating statistical numbers that will blow out an opponent – shooting just 44 percent from the field – but rather they are able to keep themselves in games by limiting their opponents to similar production. Three of the Scarlet Knight’s games thus far were decided by three points or less.
If Jordan can get his club to effectively run his loose, fluid NBA style offense, the Scarlet Knights will be a tough team to put away without defensive communication from the Colonials.
Case for GW:
Coming off arguably their biggest win in eight years, the Colonials return to the Smith Court boasting a 6-1 record.
GW is on a high after its best defensive game of the season, holding player of the year candidate Doug McDermott to just seven points in Sunday’s game. On the season, the Colonials boast a top 30 opponent shooting percentage defense and are holding opponents to 64 points per game, while averaging 78.4 points of their own.
Rutgers, on the other hand, is coming off an embarrassing one-point loss to Fairleigh Dickinson University, one of the worst teams in all of college basketball. The Scarlet Knights were without Jack, who sat out with a sore lower leg, but the lack of offensive production, nonetheless, was frightening. They have now lost three of their last four games entering Wednesday night’s matchup.
The Colonials continue to be led by the play of senior Isaiah Armwood and graduate student Maurice Creek. Creek leads the Colonials offense with 14.9 points per game, while Armwood leads the defense. averaging 7.7 rebounds per game and recording 20 blocks so far this season.
But as seen this past weekend, for GW to be successful on the floor, they will need to see production from contributors other than “Zeek and Creek.” In Thursday’s victory over Miami, senior Nemanja Mikic stepped up for the Colonials, contributing 16 points off the bench. And on Sunday, sophomore Kevin Larsen went 7-13 from the field, leading the team with 14 points and six rebounds.
If the Colonials can continue to spread the floor and take advantage of the small Rutgers backcourt and lack of depth, they should be on their way to a 7-1 start.