A Look At The Rutgers Scarlet Knight

University of ConnecticutEducationBig East ConferenceSportsBasketballMcDonald'sRobert Morris

At least one game at UConn, or a home-and-home two-game series if the Big East schedule calls for it.

Last season: UConn went to Rutgers and earned a relatively easy 76-58 victory at the RAC. Having defeated No.3 Villanova in Philadelphia early in the week, it was UConn's second consecutive road victory – and second overall – after losing its first six. Jerome Dyson (20) and Kemba Walker (16) combined for 36 points. After a minor injury and foul trouble in the first half, Walker had 14 of his 16 in the second half.

Mike Rosario, who did not start because he was late for a team shootaround, led the Scarlet Knights with 14 points.

Despite winning five of six games before the UConn loss, Rutgers finished 15-17 and missed the postseason, another down season for a program that often finds itself near the bottom of the Big East.

Who's gone, who's back: Coach Fred Hill is gone after a bizarre start to the offseason that included a profanity-laced tirade at a Rutgers baseball game. The fiery Mike Rice, formerly coach at Robert Morris, was hired as his replacement.

Rice has his hands full, but at least it's a fresh start for the program. Rosario, a McDonald's All-American whose commitment was a recruiting coup for the Scarlet Knights, decided to transfer to Florida. Center Hamady N'Diaye, among the nation's best shot-blockers, has exhausted his eligibility. Earlier in the season, another player who was once a top recruit, Greg Echenique, decided to transfer to Creighton.

Jonathan Mitchell, who averaged 11.8 points and 6.1 rebounds last season as a junior, returns. So does forward Dane Miller, who averaged 9.2 points and 5.9 rebounds as a freshman. Mike Coburn (6.6 points a game as a junior) is the top returning guard and should figure more prominently in the offense with Rosario's departure.

The incoming freshman class is led by Gilvydas Biruta, a power forward from St. Benedict's in New Jersey.

The UConn-Rutgers rivalry: UConn leads the all-time series, 33-13. The Huskies have won the past nine meetings and 18 of the past 19. The only Rutgers victory in that span was Jan. 30, 2002 in Piscataway, N.J. That was back when the RAC was actually a tough place to play.

What's at stake: This is one of those games UConn can't afford to lose, one you should be able to pencil in as a victory before the season begins.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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