Team preview: Rutgers Scarlet Knights

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(Information in this team report is as of Oct. 1.)


Usually, when a coach has a roster filled with younger players, he reaches a point in the season when it's time to sit the kids down and let the grownups handle business, even if said upperclassmen aren't as talented as their counterparts. Mike Rice would have loved to have done that at Rutgers last year -- if he could have.

That's the problem with having seven freshmen and only one senior on the roster. There's nowhere to turn for experience. So, the youngsters have to learn by doing, and the program must absorb the punishment. For Rutgers, that meant a year of Rice's having to tell his players about a thousand times how Big East basketball is a rough-and-tumble affair. Rice recalls one of his players' complaining during a game that a burly rival was leaning on him when the Scarlet Knight was trying to establish position inside. The player couldn't understand why the refs weren't calling what he considered to be a foul. Rice was pretty direct.

"He's playing defense," he told the player. "That's what they do in the Big East."