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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Wednesday / January 17.
  • Rutgers-Seton Hall Set for Showdown

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    Here’s the first story on Thursday night’s Rutgers-Seton Hall showdown at The Prudential Center (9 p.m., ESPN2). Read this feature on Rutgers guard Mike Rosario and his frustrations through his freshman year.

    The two teams are a combined 19-20 overall, 1-13 in the Big East.

    The teams split a pair of games last year, with each winning on the other’s court.

    The March 9 game at The Prudential Center ended when JR Inman of Rutgers (pictured) drained an off-balance 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Knights a 64-61 victory.

    In the meantime, here are some choice quotes from yesterday’s Rutgers practice.

    JR INMAN ON THE RIVALRY

    “Honestly, every single time I’ve seen Rutgers and Seton Hall play, there’s been something crazy, from my [game-winning] shot last year to people throwing elbows to whatever…I feel like whenever we play Seton Hall, it’s not even a basketball game anymore, it’s like a movie or something. It’s more than just putting the ball in the hoop. It’s kind of crazy, but it’s fun.”

    FRED HILL ON HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH BOBBY GONZALEZ

    “Look, I’m a Big East guy. What I would love to see is success for everybody. I’d love to see success for the Big East, we have the best conference in the country. I’m a Jersey guy, I grew up here. I want to see Jersey basketball be great. I’d love to see every kid in the metropolitan area have a choice to be able to stay home because they feel good about the program. And if that’s coming to Rutgers, awesome. If that’s going to Seton Hall, awesome. If that’s going to St. John’s awesome. So I root for everybody. And I root for everybody to be successful. I think it’s ultimately going to make us all successful. And certainly we all want to get there and compete. We all have our own style. And you can derive from that whatever you want. Everybody does it a little bit differently.”

    HILL ON HIS INTERACTIONS WITH GONZALEZ DURING THE GAME

    “I’m me and I’m going to be me. And I act the same way regardless of whether we’re playing Seton Hall  or we’re playing Caldwell College in an exhibition game.”

    HILL ON THE THREE LOCAL SCHOOLS

    “I wish and I think people can see, if we can ever all be good at the same time, how great would that be for metropolitan-area basketball to have Rutgers and St. John’s and Seton Hall all making it the intense rivalry that certain people make it out to be. To me, for a great rivalry you’ve got to be successful. And certainly none of us are there yet. But we’re all showing signs that we’re headed in that direction.”

    HILL ON MIKE ROSARIO AND JEREMY HAZELL

    “I think they’re both great scorers. I think there’s a lot of similarities. Both guys have an uncanny ability to  not just shoot the basketball. That’s what everybody sees. They just have a knack to know how to score. And they have a knack of doing it in big moments. That’s that one thing that Jeremy’s done that I’ve actually seen and caught my eye. In a big moment, he scores the basketball, whether it’s a long 3, whether it’s a 3-point play going to the basket, usually sometimes it’s an awkward shot. I have a lot of respect for guys who are scorers. they just figure out how to get it done and get it done in big moments. I think there’s a similarity in that way to both of them. I think both teams rely heavily on them to score, to be successful. One guy has a great game, the other guy doesn’t, that team’s going to have the upper hand.”

    ROSARIO ON SETON HALL-RUTGERS VS. ST. ANTHONY-ST. PATRICK

    “I think this one’s just a lot more emotional. From a scale of 1 to  10, this rivalry right here with Rutgers and Seton Hall is probably a 10 on the dot. And with us and St. Pat’s, it’s probably like an 8. It’s not as strong as it is in college basketball.”

    ROSARIO ON THE FRUSTRATION OF THIS YEAR

    “It’s tough but in order to be a champion you have to go through losing and all those types of things,” he said. “But it’s frustrating. It’s frustrating. You just can’t get down on yourself. You have to just keep pushing and just keep getting better every day, so that’s what I’ve been doing. I haven’t been winning but deep down inside, this program and this team, we’re winners because we come out here every day and we just give it 100 percent for Coach [Fred] Hill. And we just carry this program with a great respect and we respect people and we just do things that are positive here.”

    ROSARIO ON WHETHER RUTGERS HAS ENOUGH TALENT TO COMPETE IN THE BIG EAST

    “We have a lot of players that compete every night and give it their all,” Rosario said. “I just think we need one or two more pieces to the puzzle to come to add to me, Greg [Echenique] and Pat Jackson. I think next year with us adding Dane Miller and Austin Johnson and [transfer] Jonathan Mitchell getting in the rotation, I think we’re going to have a lot of kids next year that’s just going to go out and just be ballers, just love to play basketball.

    “It’s going to be exciting for us next year and we’re just going to finish out this year strong and whatever the outcome is, that’s the outcome.”

    (Photo courtesy of Rutgers)

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

    • One wonders when and if Echenique and/or Rosario will feel any bitterness or resentment towards either of the Coaches Hurley for, at best, not discouraging or, at worst, encouraging them to take an enormous “leap of faith” on their family friend, Freddie Hill.

      Rosario was certainly more limited by his academic performance, but the Venezuelan native Echenique had offers from two top 5 basketball teams in Pitt and Duke as well as other solid academic/athletic programs like Notre Dame and Villanova.

    • Hey Adam,

      It’s amazing what a win over a team like Georgetown will do in the eyes of a fan. I try not to let one game mean too much but it’s hard not to with Seton Hall’s upcoming schedule…especially after playing ND, Nova and Providence tough (should’ve won that last one). How do you think we’ll fare over the next four games? And do you think if we get on a mini-roll we can turn this season into a positive one?

      Thanks, Mike

    • Adam,

      Let me start by saying that you do an incredible job with this blog. This insight and exposure that you give to local sports, mainly college football and basketball, is unrivalved. As a Seton Hall fan, I’ve learned so much more about the team I love that I would have never known had it not been for me stumbling upon this blog.

      That being said, and I so don’t want to do this on my first post becasue I hope to have some great dialogue with you like so many of your other readers do(it’s very kool how you actually answer questions).

      But I can’t help but ask, does any of the resentment that may be between you and Bobby G. come through on this blog? Examples, maybe the main one is just my over-all paranoia and my enthusiam for Bobby, which I admit. But something small like comparing Mike Rosario and Jeremy Hazell. Now don’t get me wrong, Rosario mght turn out to be better, and more productive. But going on this season, the only season that Rosario has played in college, how can you honestly compare the two, or ask Fred Hill to? Hazell, with all his flaws(incosistent shooting and suspect D) is the 2nd leading scorer in the BIG EAST last I checked at 22 a game. He is the Seton Hall offense. He goes we go. I just don’t see how a true Seton Hall fan can read that comparison and not feel slighted. I don’t think it is outrageous to say that Rosario is not even in the same league as Hazell right now.

      Sorry to be nit-picking. I’ll be at the game and I can’t wait. What do you think the chances are that SHU could roll off the next 3 games, RU, SJU, DePaul, and actually make a push for at least an NIT bid?

      Again, thanks for this blog, it is appreciated.

    • Folks,
      Thanks for the comments, kind words and questions.

      In order, here are my thoughts:

      **It has got to be tough for everyone at Rutgers to be on an eight-game losing streak,but especially for Rosario and Echenique who went a combined 56-1 last year on the high school circuit. I believe both have bought into Coach Hill’s vision that they can help turn things around, but it will be interesting to see what might happen if things don’t turn dramatically by next year or their junior years.

      **In its next four games, Seton Hall plays Rutgers twice, St. John’s once and DePaul once, all winnable games. Rutgers also plays Seton Hall and then DePaul at home. Whoever wins Thursday has a chance to at least put together a mini-run. I could certainly see the Pirates winning at least three of those games.

      **I didn’t ask Freddie to compare Mike Rosario and Jeremy Hazell. One of my esteemed colleagues in the media business, whom I assume is doing a feature comparing the two, did.

      Thanks again