Why suspension of Quarterback Chris Laviano and others is actually a blessing in disguise for Flood, Rutgers

Entering spring camp back in April, the head coach of the Rutgers football team was faced with a difficult decision, a challenge never before seen in his previous three years in Piscataway.

Sophomore quarterbacks Hayden Rettig and Chris Laviano were competing for the starting position left vacant by four-year starter Gary Nova and they were neck-and-neck throughout the spring, forcing Kyle Flood, entering his fourth year at the helm for the Scarlet Knights, to push his decision on who would take snaps from center back until training camp in August.

When camp opened Aug. 9, Flood told reporters he would have a decision on the starting quarterback roughly “7-10 days into camp.”

That window came and went without the announcement he was expecting to make.

Instead, it came today, amid controversy that included the suspension of Laviano and preseason All-Big Ten wide receiver Leonte Carroo for the first half of the season opener Sept. 5 against Norfolk State, paving the way for Rettig to get the nod as the starting signal caller.

Senior punter Tim Gleeson — listed as the co-starter on Flood’s training camp depth chart — along with junior backup linebacker Kevin Marquez and junior cornerback Ruhann Peele, were also suspended for the first half when the curtain comes up on the Knights’ 2015 season against the Spartans, reportedly for a violation of the team’s curfew policy.            (Note: Carroo also reportedly broke curfew.)

Although Rutgers will be missing five players for the first 30 minutes of its second season in the Big Ten Conference, including two starters and a possible starting quarterback, believe it or not, Kyle Flood actually lucked out.

Let me tell you why.

Laviano and Rettig were nearly inseparable when it came to their performance since the spring began with Laviano, who played in three games last season (11-for-28 , 107 yards, INT,) dazzling Rutgers fans at the Scarlet-White game going 8-for-10 for 140 yards and two touchdowns. In the same game, Rettig was a quiet 4-of-7 for 37 yards.

Rettig flipped the script in the summer’s first scrimmage Aug. 17, converting 8-of-11 throws for 124 yards and three scores while Laviano was less efficient, going 9-for-16 for 136 yards and three touchdowns of his own. But both put together solid performances in the Knights’ second scrimmage of training camp Aug. 22 (Laviano: 10-for-15, 124 yards, three touchdowns. Rettig: 10-for-17 144, one touchdown.)

After the latest scrimmage Flood remained unsure of whom he wanted to lead his team into 2015, just two weeks prior to the opener.

That is exactly why Laviano’s suspension, for use of a fake I.D., according to Flood, was a blessing in disguise for the head coach from Queens, New York.

Let’s break this down logically.

Flood couldn’t make up his mind after the spring, nor had he come to a conclusion during the window of training camp he projected he would have an answer. When it came time to scrimmage Flood balked at the question again.

Are you getting the message here people? He COULDN’T make up his mind.

And here’s the rub, now he doesn’t have to pick.

Flood put added pressure on himself when he told reporters in the spring that he wanted to let one player grow into the quarterback position. He compounded that midway through summer camp when he said wasn’t interested in letting the quarterback competition sort itself out on the field in the season opener against a Division 1-AA opponent in Norfolk State.

Now the pressure has subsided.

Laviano is eligible to play the second half of game one and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he does, especially if Rettig shows any sign of struggle.

In that scenario, Flood would be absolved of criticism for not starting Laviano to begin with because he demonstrated no one player is above the team when it comes to discipline.

Laviano can be reprimanded to Flood’s doghouse in the interim, leaving open the possibility the Glen Head, New York, native could ascend to the penthouse if Rettig is unable to run the Rutgers offense to Flood or offensive coordinator Ben McDaniels’ liking.

Not to mention, with reports swirling about Flood’s alleged communication with a Rutgers faculty member regarding the academic eligibility of junior cornerback Nadir Barnwell, this is an opportunity for the head coach to show his mettle as a disciplinarian.

In other words, this is a win-win for Flood.

And that is the reason why Rutgers is actually set up to benefit from the misgivings of the most experienced quarterback on its roster.

Not a conspiracy theory, just my observation.

Whether he is willing to admit it or not, right now, Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood is as pleased as frat party punch.
For updates on the Rutgers football team, follow @KevinPXavier and @TargumSports on Twitter.

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Rutgers football training camp scrimmage No. 2: What to watch for

With training camp reaching its dog days as the second week of practice from Piscataway comes to a close, the Rutgers football team enters its second scrimmage of August.

As the offense continues to progress in its installs under first-year offensive coordinator Ben McDaniels, that side of the ball is only the beginning to a multitude of ongoing position battles taking place since the spring camp in April.

But now, with the Saturday night lights at High Point Solutions Stadium setting the stage for an 8 p.m. closed scrimmage to close out week two of camp, the window is closing on some of those depth chart competitions.

With that, sports editor and lead Rutgers football beat writer Garrett Stepien breaks down some of the things he’ll be looking for when the Scarlet Knights take the field tonight.

***

Quarterbacks: Who wants it more?

After last Monday’s Aug. 17 scrimmage inside the stadium —the first of its kind since the Scarlet-White spring game back on April 24 — didn’t convince head coach Kyle Flood to name his starting quarterback this past week, Saturday night is the night that erases all doubt.

Rutgers takes off on Sunday, resuming practice on Monday to embark on its home stretch of training camp in week three. I thought we might see a starter named earlier this week on Tuesday after Flood evaluated the film with McDaniels and the rest of his staff, but that wasn’t enough to yield a decision.

Now, though, there’s no doubt in my mind — and I’m sure everyone else agrees — that Saturday’s scrimmage is the turning point.

Flood, who gave a 7-10 day timetable to name the starter when the Knights reported to camp on Aug. 9, hasn’t tipped which way he’s leaning. In practice and in the first scrimmage, sophomores Chris Laviano and Hayden Rettig have split equal reps with the first team and have both looked sharp in their own ways.

When I went into my quarterback prediction earlier in the week here, I said that Rettig would win the job. I won’t break down all of the stats here again, but I saw him beat out Laviano in Monday’s scrimmage to ultimately prove he has the greater upside and potential to do some special things with this offense the more he gets acclimated.

All of that being said, I’m looking for a couple of things on Saturday night from both of these guys.

With Rettig, first things first, I want to see how bad he truly wants this. He was groomed as the golden boy from SoCal, a four-star Army All-American. He went on to play SEC ball at LSU until deciding to transfer out. He came to Rutgers and ran the scout team all of last year. He was, by far, outplayed by Laviano on the biggest stage to end the spring.

But he came back into camp rejuvenated. He’s surged all the way back to take the edge in the competition after going an unofficial 8-for-11 with 123 yards and three touchdowns through the air in the first scrimmage where he flashed that big arm, the pinpoint accuracy and the red zone guts on back-to-back scoring strikes.

So, where does he go from here? How bad does he want this?

I’m expecting to see Rettig leave no doubt tonight. Unless he knows something we don’t know, he needs to prove once and for all that he is the guy to lead this offense. He doesn’t need to complete every single pass he drops back to throw, but he does have to outdo Laviano once again.

I’m just curious to see how bad he wants that.

For Laviano, on the other hand, he’s still right there.

Sure, Rettig has taken the advantage as of late, but I’m sure Laviano still feels confident knowing that this thing isn’t based off of a performance in one scrimmage — if it was, he’d have been crowned the starter directly after he put on a show completing 8-of-10 passes for 140 yards and two scores in the spring game.

Dating back to the beginning of spring camp, Laviano has had the more consistent body of work. That, coupled with his bits of game experience and extended time in the system now with two-plus years, has kept him afloat. And by all means, he’s continued to look sharp.

But now, I’m sure Laviano has to know that this is almost do-or-die. Flood shot down the idea of a two-quarterback system, even for opening day when Rutgers hosts Division I-AA Norfolk State. He’s made it clear that whoever the Knights do name the starter is the one they’re riding with.

For Laviano, how much is he willing to do to take back the momentum? In Monday’s scrimmage, he sure opened up with the flare starting with a 60-yard bomb to junior wide receiver Andre Patton. He marched down the field on a nine-play, 70-yard drive capped by a seven-yard fling to senior wide out Leonte Carroo. Like I said, he’s looked just as good.

But after going cold in the red zone the first time around, how will he react this time? After stalling with a 1-for-5 performance with 0 yards, a sack and a pick combined between one series inside the 40 before moving inside the 20, what can he do to match Rettig?

As I said before, Laviano’s consistency from April to now has been a huge plus for him. He’s looked polished — like a starting quarterback should be.

But the window is certainly closing. With Rettig’s upside growing more obvious with each snap he takes in that offense, it doesn’t matter how much longer Laviano’s been around.

When the lights turn on, the Big Ten officials enter and it’s his turn to take the field, he has to answer the call with more than just a hot start. He has to want it bad enough to take this thing back.

Offensive line: Filling in the holes

Replacing Taj Alexander, Betim Bujari and Kaleb Johnson has arguably been the biggest challenge for Flood next to quarterback. Regardless of who he picks to succeed Gary Nova, it won’t matter if he’s only relying on his two returning linemen to do the work of five.

But Flood’s been open about how much the youth on the line has impressed him through two weeks of training camp. It doesn’t have experience, but it does have the versatility with multiple Knights flexible enough to play multiple positions.

First, with center, who’s getting the bulk of the reps? Since the spring, juniors Chris Muller and Derrick Nelson have seen the most of the snaps there. Flood’s also been vocal about the job that sophomore Dorian Miller’s been able to do, sliding from center to guard on either side of the line.

Here, it likely comes down to Muller and Nelson. As far as the depth chart goes, they’re both listed as co-starters at center with Muller also listed as the starter at right guard.

But when the second scrimmage of camp takes place tonight, I’m anxious to see how the two perform in their time at center. When Nelson’s there, Muller can be expected to line up right by his side at right guard. And how much does that impact the handout in reps between the two as the night goes on?

Muller and Miller present a huge weapon of versatility here with their seamless abilities to slide from guard to center. But if they solidify both guard spots and Nelson continues to perform well between the two at center, some questions might have answers soon enough.

Earlier in the week, Flood also mentioned the growth of redshirt-freshmen Marcus Applefield and Tariq Cole when citing his pleasure with the offensive line’s development.

Noting that he foresees a rotation of seven Knights in the trenches on offense, continuing to keep an eye on the pair of rookie guards — Cole entered camp listed as the co-starter at left guard with Miller and Applefield as the backup at right guard to Muller — could have big implications on where the rest of the dominoes fall there.

Linebackers: Who’s in the middle?

With Kaiwan Lewis’ upgrade to work with the first team at middle linebacker this past week, the South Carolina graduate transfer looked like he was ready to lock down the position for good. 

Between defensive coordinator Joe Rossi and Flood, the input sounded like Lewis had caught on quick. As he continues to get acclimated in the defense — he’s only been here since Aug. 11 — it’s expected he’ll embrace the starting slot at middle linebacker.

But when Flood went on to talk about some of the performances that impressed him in week two of camp, he raved about the effort of Isaiah Johnson. The junior college transfer from Oakland, California, strung together a solid spring when he enrolled early and entered camp as the co-starter with Lewis.

Reps have been split between the two, but Lewis’ expected emergence hinted that the position’s battle was beginning to wind down. Johnson, though, has made it clear he’s not going down without a fight.

I expect Lewis to take the lion share of the reps with the first team tonight, but I’ll be keeping an eye on Johnson. Is he taking first team reps? How does he perform there in comparison to Lewis? As I said before, Lewis looks like he’s closing in. But depending on his performance tonight, Johnson could extend the timeline for a clear-cut decision.

Secondary: Who’s where?

Similar to the rotation on the offensive line, Flood said at the beginning of camp that he could see Rutgers rotating 6-7 defensive backs throughout the season.

For now, though, the question remains: who and where?

At corner, with junior Nadir Barnwell in question both academically and per the injury report, sophomore Dre Boggs and true freshman Blessuan Austin have been trotting out to start with the first team. From there, junior Ruhan Peele and redshirt-freshman Isaiah Wharton have also split the reps.

Behind them, juniors Anthony Cioffi and Delon Stephenson remain co-starters at free safety and the same goes with a pair of former DePaul Catholic (New Jersey) teammates in junior Davon Jacobs and redshirt-freshman Kiy Hester at strong safety.

Despite the fact that there isn’t a clear starter at any of the aforementioned positions just yet, I’m anxious to see first how the unit responds to how it was lit up in the first scrimmage by Laviano and Rettig.

Aside from keeping an eye on the split in reps between the bunch of them, how do they complement each other this time around? As the unit settles in with Cioffi sliding back to safety and the youth opening up on the corners, accompanied by Peele’s transition from wide receiver, the unit has a ton of potential and athleticism down the road.

But going up against a wide receiving corps that features weapons ranging from a 6-foot-6, 220-pounder in junior Carlton Agudosi to a shifty speedster junior Janarion Grant to a First Team All-Big Ten talent in senior Leonte Carroo — with the likes of junior Andre Patton and his four receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown from the last scrimmage — how does this defensive backfield respond?

When I mention the athleticism of the unit, what stands out to me is the physicality on the corners with a pair of 6-foot-1 freshmen in Austin and Wharton to go with a pair of scrappy ballhawks in Boggs and Peele. For the most part, they were torched by Laviano, Rettig and the wide outs. What do they show this time out?

As for the safeties, it’s expected they’ll split the reps. Outside of that, the use of Cioffi and/or Stephenson at the nickel corner has been an intriguing topic of discussion dating back to the spring. Regardless of who lines up as the starter at free safety, when it comes to the nickel packages either of the two can surely line it up there.

For updates on the Rutgers football team, follow @GarrettStepien and @TargumSports on Twitter.

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Rutgers football 2015 quarterback predictions

From the final pass Gary Nova threw in the Rutgers football team’s 40-21 win over North Carolina in the Quick Lane Bowl last December, all eyes have been glued on the four-year starter’s two potential successors.

After months of evaluation, head coach Kyle Flood and his coaching staff still have yet to make a decision on who will replace Nova in the 2015 season. As of the time and date this article was published, sophomores Chris Laviano and Hayden Rettig both remain neck-and-neck in the thick of the starting quarterback race.

But all signs point to an announcement coming soon. When the Scarlet Knights opened training camp Aug. 9, Flood gave a 7-10 day window for naming the starter. After the first scrimmage of camp on Aug. 17 at High Point Solutions Stadium, he said he was “a couple of days away.”

With Flood mentioning that the live offensive situations in practice will not resume until Saturday night’s scrimmage, that gives reason to believe that the process will extend well into the weekend.

From there, after further evaluation of the scrimmage on film, Flood could name the starter as early as Monday of next week.

In the meantime, Targum Sports editors and Rutgers football beat writers Garrett Stepien and Kevin Xavier dive into their predictions on whose name we can expect to hear when Flood comes to that decision.
***

Sports Editor: Garrett Stepien

When Hayden Rettig announced his transfer to Rutgers in June of last year, everyone had already crowned him as the future of the program for the years to come.

From then until now, boy, have Rutgers fans waited a long time for this day to come.

Because of the hype that has surrounded the LSU transfer from the moment he descended upon Piscataway — with every snap, drop-back and pass he threw on the scout team in 2014 building buzz about the big-armed Southern California kid — it placed his spring camp under a severe magnifying glass.

Each and every Rutgers spring practice I attended. I wanted to see this golden arm in action. I wanted to see and believe in the hype that the former four-star Army All-American was supposedly all about.

But I never did — at least not consistently.

To me, Rettig under-performed in the spring and it caught me by a big surprise. Outside of Laviano’s small sample size from the 2014 season as Nova’s backup (all 11-for-28, 107 yards and one interception of it), I saw these two entering camp equal and I expected Rettig to at least show me some separation as he continued to learn the offense.

But he never really did. Too many times I’d see him look clueless. It seemed as if for every beautiful throw he’d make in unimaginably tight spaces with rocket velocity and pinpoint accuracy, there were another five incompletions with a pick mixed somewhere in between.

By the end of camp, after Laviano’s sensational Scarlet-White spring game performance where he lit it up (8-for-10, 140 yards and two touchdowns) and completely stole the show, Rettig’s quiet 4-for-7 night with 37 yards made me realize that this thing was going to be tight in August.

Months later, here we are. Throughout the first week of camp, the two were even. Rettig had his moments, but Laviano just looked so much more polished, so much crisper. He looked like a starting quarterback — and I thought he could be if he stole the show in the first scrimmage.

But instead, that was Rettig. And he made me a believer that he deserves to be the starting quarterback from opening day and beyond.

On his first pass of the scrimmage, Laviano fired a 60-yard bomb to junior wide receiver Andre Patton. For the day, I recorded him completing 9-of-16 passes for 136 yards and three scores with one interception.

Rettig, meanwhile, was a bit more polished in the stat book. From my records, he went 8-for-11 with 123 yards and three scores.

But what separated Rettig from Laviano, in my eyes, was the red zone efficiency that your quarterback absolutely needs to have.

Truth be told, Laviano did sustain a 70-yard, nine-play drive on one series early on where he completed all four passes for 45 yards, culminated by a seven-yard strike to senior wide receiver Leonte Carroo.

But in situations designed specifically for the red zone, he completely froze up. After opening up 5-of-6 for 105 yards when taking the strike to Patton into consideration, Laviano was off the mark.

On his first red zone play, he was intercepted. Until the ball moved inside the 10-yard line, he had gone 1-for-5 with 0 yards and a sack.

None of that would have mattered too much — these are stats and analysis from the first scrimmage since the Scarlet-White game — but what Rettig did inside the red zone showed me how much untapped potential there truly is in this kid.

After opening up the scrimmage solid, Rettig completely took over when it came time to get big — when it came time to put points on the board.

On back-to-back passing plays, he found junior wide receivers Janarion Grant and Vance Matthews, respectively, on a pair of rocket passes where he threaded the needle to perfection.

Then, even after a snap went over his head and dropped the offense back 14 yards, that still didn’t faze him.

He coolly slipped a pass to junior running back Justin Goodwin for his third touchdown pass of the day, eventually capping a day where he truly and finally separated himself in the race.

To be clear, I am not judging this quarterback decision off of some stats scrounged up from one August scrimmage.

What I am saying is this: Rettig does have the arm. He does have the potential. What did become clear to me was how much room he still has to grow in this offense.

Rutgers opens up the season against one of the weakest non-conference schedules in the country. The Knights begin the season with Division I-AA Norfolk State before taking on Washington State, Kansas and eventually Army. Those teams combined to go 12-34 last year.

Of course, the schedule tightens up with the Big Ten east’s powerhouses spaced out on the schedule. But when Laviano and Rettig are this close in the battle, you have to hand the keys over to the guy who’s in for the long haul.

Based off of his recent surge, I think Rettig’s finally starting to turn the corner. I think he’s ready for the cross-country drive across the Big Ten and beyond.

He’s ready to take on the role of starting quarterback for Rutgers. And Flood, who’s shown he’s more than ready to commit and stand by a quarterback through the highs and lows of his career (Re: Gary Nova), probably agrees.

For updates on the Rutgers football team, follow @GarrettStepien and @TargumSports on Twitter.

Associate Sports Editor: Kevin Xavier

The moment sophomore Hayden Rettig bolted the bayou for the banks last year, Rutgers fans clamored for the blue chip prospect to take over the reins of the offense in place of departed four-year starter Gary Nova.

Rettig, the Army All-American out of Cathedral High School in Southern California, represented progress on the recruiting trail for the Knights.

Rutgers’ fan base salivated over the possibility the Scarlet Knights offense could stretch the field in 2015, relying on Rettig’s powerful right arm, one as highly-touted coming out of high school as the JT Barrett’s and Conor Cook’s of the Big Ten’s east division.

In fact, Rettig was a higher ranked recruit than even Nova, one of the most polished quarterbacks produced in Piscataway.

His counterpart, sophomore Chris Laviano didn’t get nearly the amount of pub that Rettig received (3-star recruit according to rivals.com out of Holy Trinity on Long Island) but Laviano has experience on his side, all be it a small sampling (five games, 11-for-28 for 107 yards and a pick).

In Rutgers spring game, Laviano announced his arrival with a near spotless performance, completing 80 percent of his passes with two touchdowns and no interceptions. In the same game Rettig fared ok (4-for-7 for 37 yards).

Both have looked impressive and both have looked paltry at times over the course of the summer, but in the Knights first scrimmage of training camp Rettig registered an efficient 8-for-11 passing for 123 yards and three TDs, according to @GarrettStepien and his unofficial tally.

Laviano also threw for three scores and sustained a 70-yard drive but was less accurate (9-for-16) and threw an INT.

Both have shown poise in the pocket and both are listed at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds. But Rettig is more wiry and lanky, (think Ken Dorsey) whereas Laviano is thicker and appears, to me at least, to be stronger (think Gary Nova).

So that’s the background, here’s my take.

When comparing the two quarterbacks it is vital to account for all the necessary metrics and measureables. And in order to properly break those down I’m employing the point system inspired by FXX’s The League.

Rettig is playing his first active season in two years after not seeing action in Baton Rouge at LSU and then being forced to sit out one year due to NCAA transfer rules (minus-1).

Laviano has been active in this offense since arriving on the banks three years ago and he has had more time to develop a rapport with star wideout Leonte Carroo and the rest of the receiving corps (plus-1).

Laviano has developed a special connection with junior wide receiver Carlton Agudosi who is poised to reach the potential of his 6-foot-6 frame this fall. (plus-1. Note: Watch out for Agudosi this year as a sleeper pick for ALL-Big Ten, but that’s for another time.)

Rettig has a rocket-launcher in place of his right arm. The type of arm talent NFL scouts drool over and sportstalk radio buzzes about (plus-1). Laviano’s arm is strong, stronger than I thought frankly, but I’ve yet to see it on a consistent basis (minus-1).

They may be identical heights and weights, but Laviano’s frame appears stronger and in the bruising Big Ten, with Shilique Calhoun crushing quarterbacks at Michigan State and Joey Bosa bull-rushing them at Ohio State, I would consider him more durable (plus-1).

Rettig is the sexy choice the fanbase wants, regardless of the fact they have never seen him throw a football at the college level (plus-1). He also has the pedigree, with older brother Chase having starred at quarterback for Boston College (plus-1).

Rettig has that ‘SoCal’ swagg too. The blonde hair with auburn flecks and the ladies love him (plus-1), eventhough Chris Laviano sounds more like a Jersey/Rutgers guy than Hayden Rettig (plus-1 Laviano).

But the Big Ten is not about flash.

As explained by former Southeastern Conference middle linebacker and graduate transfer Kaiwan Lewis “(The Big Ten) is a downhill league, blue-collar, just strap-up type thing.” So I don’t mind if Laviano is more of a game-manager.

Rutgers needs to maintain possession of the football and take a shot when it presents itself, not try to light up the scoreboard for 40 points and still lose by three TDs because the defense is gassed.

The Knights have a stable of running backs, trust them. And when the nine route opens up Laviano has shown the ability to find Carroo or Agudosi deep (plus-1).

So there you have the case for Chris Laviano, by the smallest of margins using less than scientific methods, he is my choice to quarterback the Scarlet Knights in 2015.

With that being said, for all the reasons above, I think head coach Kyle Flood will get swept up in the excitement of Rettig’s ruby locks and laser arm and when the decision is finally made, he’ll choose the transfer.

For updates on the Rutgers football team, follow @KevinPXavier and @TargumSports on Twitter.

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Key performances, quotes, notes & game-changing stat: 14-seed Rutgers vs 11-seed Minnesota

CHICAGO — Here are our key performances, quotes, notes and game-changing statistic from the 14-seed Rutgers men’s basketball team’s 80-69 loss tonight to 11-seed Minnesota in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament at the United Center.

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Big Ten Tournament first round preview: Key players, keys to victory, prediction

CHICAGO — Hours away from tip-off, here’s our opening round breakdown of the Rutgers men’s basketball team’s first-ever appearance in the Big Ten Tournament.

What: 14-seed Rutgers (10-21, 2-16) vs. 11-seed Minnesota (17-14, 6-12)

When: 7 p.m. ET

Where: United Center in Chicago, Illinois, with Big Ten Network broadcasting the action live on television

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Best & Worst Performances: No. 10 Maryland at Rutgers

Not even the extra motivation of Senior Night was enough to will the Rutgers men’s basketball team to a win against the team that started its now 13-game losing streak back on Jan. 14 in No. 10 Maryland. The Scarlet Knights fought valiantly and following a big 3-point shot from senior guard Myles Mack, an upset seemed within reach. But an 8-0 run quickly squashed those hopes with the Terrapins cruising to a 60-50 win inside the Louis Brown Athletic Center. On that note, here’s my look on some of tonight’s best and worst performers.

Best performance: The streaking Terrapins hit a bit of a cold spell in Piscataway with the team shooting just 22-of-57 from the field, but senior guard Dez Wells’ double-double was more than enough to earn his side the win. Wells finished with a game-high 20 points and collected 10 rebounds while also making a number of vital plays down the stretch to secure the victory.

Worst performance: Hyped as one of the top guards in college basketball, Maryland’s Melo Trimble had a night to forget. Despite scoring 10 points, Trimble shot a woeful 3-of-13 from the field along with going 0-of-5 from beyond the arc, never able to get into a rhythm on his jumper.

Best Rutgers performance: On a night meant for the seniors to shine, it was junior center Greg Lewis who stuck out the most. His baseline jump shot was on point all game, and he also had several important put backs off missed shots to keep Rutgers in the game. Lewis finished the night shooting 6-of-10 from the field with a career-high 14 points.

Game changing statistic: Though Maryland’s percentage from the field wasn’t pretty, the Knights also could not buy a bucket. Rutgers finished shooting 32.2 percent from the field and went 4-of-15 on 3-point attempts. In a game that came down to one or two shots made down the stretch, Rutgers lacked that clutch dagger.

Other key notes

-Rutgers senior forward Kadeem Jack had a career-high 16 rebounds.

-With 8 points, senior guard Myles Mack moves past Eddie Jordan for 7th all-time on Rutgers’ all-time scoring list.

-The 13-straight defeats is now the second worst losing streak in Rutgers men’s hoops history.

-Maryland now holds a 5-3 series advantage over the Knights.

-Sean Stewart / Correspondent

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New recruits give Rutgers vital reinforcements ahead of new campaign

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Sophomore midfielder Erik Sa (10) and freshman forward Jason Right (20) will be getting some much needed reinforcements next season. Edwin Gano / Staff Photographer

Calling the Rutgers men’s soccer team’s inaugural season as members of the Big Ten Conference a disappointment is a bit of an understatement.

The Scarlet Knights underperformed immensely despite a promising two-win start finishing the year 6-12-1 and 1-6-1 in conference play.

The final record was the worst under head coach Dan Donigan since his first season in 2010 where they finished 4-11-1.

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