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.
It’s no secret that Mike Rosario is going through a shooting slump.
A prolonged one.
Through Rutgers’ first seven Big East games, Rosario is shooting 25 percent (26 for 105) from the field and 28 percent from 3 (14 for 51).
He is averaging just 10.4 points per game in conference outings, less than Jonathan Mitchell (14.1) and freshman Dane Miller (12.7).
And it is no coincidence that Rutgers is the lone winless team in the Big East, either.
The frustration seems to get to Rosario at times. He declined to speak to the media after the team’s last home game, a blowout loss to Villanova. For a guy who lost one total game his last two years at St. Anthony, it’s got to be tough.
Rutgers is 2-23 in 25 Big East games since Rosario stepped on campus.
“Mike’s struggling shooting the basketball,” said Rutgers coach Fred Hill, whose team faces Marquette Tuesday night at 9 on ESPNU.
“It’s like any great player that goes through a slump. I use Derek Jeter as an example because I think he’s one of the most professional athletes I’ve ever had the privilege to watch play. A couple years ago Derek Jeter went through maybe a 30-game hitting slump, everybody was ‘What’s wrong with Derek Jeter? He’s getting old and he’s over the hill. He can’t play’ and this and that. What did he do? He went to work every day. He went to get extra batting practice. Mike goes in and gets extra shots up. You don’t change everything that you’ve done, you go out there and play with a passion.”
The problem with that analogy, of course, is that Jeter is surrounded by All-Stars and future Hall of Famers– Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Mariano Rivera and so on.
Now that 6-9 big man Greg Echenique has transferred to Creighton, Rutgers really has no legitimate second option behind Rosario.
Miller appears to be the closest thing and he definitely could be a star down the road in this conference.
Until then, Rosario is left as the primary offensive option and opposing defenses are all too aware of that.
“As a freshman he played extremely well,” Hill said of Rosario. “Now people are going to emphasize taking Mike away. It’s no different that when we try to take somebody away in a game. There are a lot of sophomores that are great players that go through a difficult time.”
Rosario is a shooter first, second and third.
But if his shot’s not falling, he needs to do other things. Attack the basket, set up his teammates, rebound, play defense. And then hopefully his shot will open up.
That’s what leaders, and smart basketball players, do.
(Mike Vorkunov contributed reporting)
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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.