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 Enters as Underdog, Comes Away With Win Against Manhattan
By ARTHUR WARNER-KAMSLER
NEW YORK — It’s not often that a program like Manhattan gets to play a Big Ten team, let alone goes into the game as the favorite.
Yet that is exactly what happened when the Jaspers met Rutgers Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.
Even though Rutgers was a 2.5-point underdog going into the day, they defeated Manhattan, 63-55, in a game they controlled for the full 40 minutes.
“We don’t need to get respect, we’re going to take it,” said senior forward Kadeem Jack, who went for 24 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks and 3 assists.
When asked about being the favorite, Manhattan coach Steve Masiello said, “I don’t bet on games.”
He added: “I’m very happy with our success and I would not change a thing but I think at the end of the day we’re a 3,700-enrollment MAAC school, we shouldn’t be favored. I’ll be the first to say that, we shouldn’t be favored in those games.”
It has been an up-and-down season for the Scarlet Knights (6-4), who have already suffered double-digit losses to George Washington, St. Peter’s, Virginia, and arch-rival Seton Hall. While the win was the team’s second in a row, its just the second time Rutger’s has won back-to-back games this year.
The fact that Rutgers was an underdog in a game against a team from the MAAC also does not bode well for the team as it prepares to embark on its inaugural Big Ten season, where they were picked to finish last.
“The way we played tonight, the Big Ten schedule is like 20 years away for me,” Rutgers head coach Eddie Jordan said. “I’m looking to get better tomorrow in practice, and work better against the pressure.”
As for Jack, Rutgers will need this kind of performance going forward, especially in the Big Ten. He had averaged just 9.2 points in the team’s previous four games.
“I think we’ll be very good and I definitely ned to have good games to win in the Big Ten,” the 6-foot-10 Jack said.
Jack also had no turnovers in a game where every other Rutgers player turned it over at least once and the team coughed up the ball 21 times in total against a fierce Manhattan press.
One of the big bright spots for Rutgers during the win was the continued emergence of sophomore Junior Etou, who had 16 points and 8 boards. In a game where Myles Mack, the team’s leading scorer, had just two points, Etou stepped up big. The last five of Etou’s points came during a mini-run where Etou personally pushed Rutger’s lead to 57-50 after the Jaspers had made it a two-point game.
“I have seen Junior develop this summer,” Mack said. “I knew this was something that he could do on a big stage.”
A big stage where Rutgers was the underdog, yet emerged with the win.
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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.