YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles take the floor against Big East foe Rutgers in about seven hours. To get a better sense of what we'll see tonight, we traded questions with SBN's awesome Rutgers-devoted blog, On the Banks. Thanks to Dave, who was kind enough to answer our hard-hitting questions on short notice. As is our custom, the next time you're in Milwaukee, the first round of Jagermeister is on us.
To the questions!
AE: Rutgers is a team in transition this year, with Mike Rice taking over for the dearly departed Fred Hill. How's the transition going? Has Rutgers' style of play changed under the new regime?
OTB: The transition is going well. RU is not a deep team right now, but they're playing much harder than they have been, especially on defense. The style of play has changed to a team that shares the ball on offense and tries to take good shots, and a team that hustles during a switching man to man defense, as opposed to throwing different defensive looks at teams depending on possessions.
AE: What kind of defense should we expect from Rutgers tonight -- man, zone, press?
OTB: Definitely a man to man. But it's a bit different, the players switch off screens, and never fight through the screens. It creates a lot of confusion for the offense, but can lead to some match-up problems for the defense as well. It's very interesting to watch and can cause a lot of chaos.
AE: If the Scarlet Knights need a bucket when it's close and late, who's getting the call? If they need a stop, who's getting tabbed to guard the opponent's best player?
OTB: The only time this has happened this season, Dane Miller got the ball, and promptly got called for a charge. Now I think it's multiple players who might touch the ball: Jonathan Mitchell, Dane Miller or maybe even freshman Gilvydas Biruta. One thing is for sure, the offense will work the ball for a good shot.
On defense, again, it isn't just one player. While James Beatty and freshman Mike Poole are probably the two best defenders, Rutgers likes to give different looks as opposed to having one lockdown defender.
AE: Everybody's heard about the odd, off-the-court incident with Pitt's baseball coach that ultimately cost Fred Hill his job. Do you have a favorite "Fred Hill is kind of crazy" story?
OTB: What I remember most was Hill and the Scarlet Knights being in a tooth and nail battle with a cupcake opponent last year. A call went the opposing team's way, when it clearly should have gone Rutgers'. Fred Hill turn to the refs and dropped to his knees to plead the case. He didn't get the call, but I always imagined Hill saying, "Please call this my way... if not, they're gonna fire me!!"
AE: What's the best bar in New Brunswick to watch a Scarlet Knights game?
OTB: I'm a huge fan of Stuff Yer Face. Great strombolis ('bolis) and a huge selection of beer. Plenty of TVs in the bar area to keep your eye on the game.
AE: And, not a question, but an apology: one of our contributors, Warrior Brad, attended the last game where the Rutgers football team was ranked in the Top 10. He asked me to tell you that he's sorry that he apparently jinxed the program.
OTB: Apology accepted.