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.
Rutgers AD Says It's an 'Important Year' for Hill, New Hoops Practice Facility in the Works
NEWPORT, R.I. — The Rutgers men’s basketball team hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 1991, and that doesn’t come as news to new Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti.
After taking the job in April, Pernetti has worked closely with head coach Freddie Hill and now he says this is an “important” year for the fourth-year head coach.
“I think it’s a very important year on a lot of fronts,” Pernetti said Tuesday at Big East Football Media Day. “I think we need to make sure that we’re improving in a lot of ways and I think we need to make sure that we’re competing every single night. There’s no nights off no matter who we’re playing.”
Rutgers finished 11-21 last season, 2-16 in the Big East. Through Hill’s first three years, the Scarlet Knights are 32-60 overall, 8-44 in the conference. Last year former Rutgers AD Bob Mulcahy gave the coach a two-year extension through 2012-13.
“My expectations for men’s basketball are the same as Freddie Hill’s expectations for basketball,” Pernetti said. “That we’re going to illustrate some serious improvement in the coming year.
“It’s a process, especially when you inherit players from other coaches and you’ve got to deal with different personalities, but now it’s Freddie Hill’s team. Everybody on that team he’s recruited and his staff knows and I’m optimistic, but I think everybody understands how important this year is.”
There are signs of optimism for Rutgers.
The Knights desperately needed to land a point guard to replace the graduated Anthony Farmer, and they did so when they secured JUCO point guard James Beatty of Miami Dade College.
“We knew we had to find a point guard,” Pernetti said.
Had Beatty not committed, Corey Chandler or Mike Coburn — neither of whom has been a Big East starter at that position — would’ve been the starting point.
Beatty comes with tremendous experience and will be handed the keys to the engine right away.
“He’s just a really good basketball player,” Miami Dade coach Matt Eisele said. “He’s really coachable. He can really shoot the ball well. He does a great job of taking the bull by the horns and leading by example. He knows how to take other talented players and make them better.
“He knows how to hit big shots. He had seven games of five or more 3’s. He broke the school assist record with 16 in one game. He was the reason we were able to have such a successful season with keeping all the egos in check down here and sending so many kids to high-major Division I schools.
“He won back-to-back MVPs on my team.”
In addition to Beatty, Rutgers also adds 6-7 Florida transfer Jonathan Mitchell, a Mount Vernon, N.Y. native who won an NCAA championship with the Gators. The incoming class also includes freshmen bigs Dane Miller, Austin Johnson and Brian Okam.
“I’ve been very impressed by Jon Mitchell now that he’s done with his sit-out year and getting ready to play,” Pernetti said. “He’s a real leader. I can see him with the younger guys.”
Mitchell and Rutgers traveled to Spain and the Canary Islands this summer and went a perfect 4-0 on the trip.
Sophomore shooting guard Mike Rosario added to his international experience by playing with Puerto Rico in the FIBA U19 World Championships in New Zealand, where he dropped 54 points on France and was the event’s leading scorer.
“I told Mike, ‘I hope you kept a few shots in your pocket for the season,'” Pernetti joked.
Coburn played with the Jamaican national team and Chandler and Pat Jackson (pictured courtesy ScarletKnights.com) are playing in Austria and the Czech Republic with an all-star team.
“We”re a young, talented team and the kids have developed,” Pernetti said. “A lot of them spent some of the summer playing abroad. The others that didn’t were on campus all summer playing and competing. I’m optimistic that we’re going to be better next year.”
Pernetti said he’s also working to raise funds for a new practice facility for the men’s and women’s basketball teams that would be connected to the RAC.
“If you go around our league, you see many of our schools, if not most of our schools, with a full-blown practice facility for basketball,” he said. “We have a great building in the RAC. I think there’s a lot of things about the RAC that we need to improve, both cosmetically and structurally.
“The building houses 17 sports right now. There are other sports on different campuses. My goal would be to be able to make improvements to the RAC and in addition to that would be the addition of a practice facility, not adjacent but connected, which will not only create a day-to-day space for our men’s and women’s basketball teams but allow us to do some things within the new space that will create more space for all the other sports.
“So to me this is a project that while the basketball practice facility is the biggest piece of it, it positively effects 19 of our 24 sports in one shot.”
Pernetti said the university is still exploring cost estimates for the project and that no definitive timetable has been set.
“We’ve spent a lot of time on it since April 1,” he said. “We’ve had many conversations and discussions. We have some designs and concepts and the next steps will be to hone in on one of the concepts that we like and start to put pen to paper on what we think the price is going to be .
“I’m hopeful in the next couple months to unveil the project with a price and start to talk about how we’re going to get it done with certain donors and supporters of the program.
“You’re not going to really be able to raise the money in six months. We have to start raising the money right now.”
MORE RUTGERS NEWS
**For the latest on the QB competition and the football team, click here.
**Read about Corey Chandler and Pat Jackson’s Europe trip here.
(Photos courtesy FIBA.com and ScarletKnights.com)
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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.