Friday, March 20, 2009

So Close, Yet So Far

By Travis Drobbin

Many of the seats were empty and many fans were seemingly disinterested. This was the scene when the Rutgers University men’s basketball team took on West Virginia University at home on February 21. So far the season has been quite harsh for the men’s basketball, which is struggling at 1-13 in Big East play. “It’s very hard to still come to the games, considering there is little chance to see a Rutgers win,” said Alex Silagi, 21. Many students and fans alike have lost interest in a team that has given little promise for a win. The Louis Brown Athletic Center (RAC) has barely reached half capacity this season, and has failed to sell out any games so far this year.

Rutgers showed little glimpses of hope throughout the game against West Virginia. The Mountaineers of West Virginia started the game on a 23- 7 run and never let up. Though the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers showed times of promise and cut the lead to four with 6:58 to play. The Mountaineers quickly responded and easily pulled off the 74-56 victory. West Virginia went on an 11-1 run in the last 4:24 of the game. This was a time when Rutgers needed baskets to keep their hopes alive. Rutgers shot just 0-7 from the floor in the last 4:24 of the game, and made two key turnovers in the late West Virginia run.

Rutgers coach Fred Hill Jr. expressed his thoughts on the game, “I thought we got some really good looks and I wish we could have got to the rim a little bit more. Anthony [Farmer] got some good looks, Corey [Chandler] got some good looks and we threw the ball inside and got some good looks, but didn’t convert. We shot 44 percent, which isn’t bad, but we need to get to the lane a little bit more,” he said as reported by The Daily Targum. Farmer finished the game with 7 points and 2 assists, while Chandler finished the game with only 4 points. Mike Rosario, who has been the Rutgers basketball team’s season MVP, finished the game with 15 points and 1 assist. Rosario is the first McDonalds All American to attend Rutgers, and is widely looked at as the future of Rutgers basketball. “Rosario is the real deal, and he makes everyone on the team better, and makes games more exciting to watch,” said a fan, Steven Gard, 20, a junior at Rutgers.

Even Rosario couldn’t stop a potent WVU offense that responded to every one of Rutgers’ runs. Leading the Mountaineers in scoring was freshman Devin Ebanks with 14 points. Da’Sean Butler, Wellington Smith, and Alex Ruoff each scored 12 points. The Mountaineers are currently 19-8 (8-6) and looking for an NCAA Tournament birth. The Scarlet Knights are 10-17 (1-13) and are looking to end the season on a positive note going into next year.

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