PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Ask anyone within the Rutgers basketball program and they will tell you that eight career points in 26 games does not come close to describing what Charlie Rigoglioso means to the Scarlet Knights.
Rigoglioso never made a clutch shot or defining play in a Rutgers uniform, but he has the respect of the program. Behind the scenes, Rigoglioso was the harbinger of one of the defining points of the season, according to head coach Mike Rice.
Midway through the February losing streak, Rigoglioso decided enough was enough while watching film with his team. Going through more tough time with Rutgers than anyone else on the roster, Rigoglioso lit into the team. As a walk-on, he told All-Big East players and All-Americans how things should be done.
“He just came at everybody,” Rice said. “We had not had people come at individuals this whole year. And he came out and was like, ‘You do this and this and this.’ And he went around the room and everybody — to a man — respected what he had to say.”
And what happened? The Rutgers skid quickly came to a halt with a dramatic overtime win over Seton Hall.
“I told them to man up,” Rigoglioso said. “No matter how many shots you miss you have to carry yourself like a man on the court. I told them to stop acting like boys and start manning up as basketball players.”
A walk-on from Wayne, N.J., Rigoglioso defied the odds simply by making it to his Senior Night tonight at the Louis Brown Athletic Center. Most walk-ons do not make it that far and Rigoglioso almost didn’t.
He left after his freshman year to play at Moravian College, where he started 20 games. But he could not stay away from Rutgers, rejoining the program the following season. Because of it, fellow walk-ok Mike Kuhn likes to call him the Brett Favre of Rutgers basketball.
“[It’s] nothing to do with the text messages or anything like that,” Rigoglioso joked. “I guess I was a little fickle when I was younger. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do or where I wanted to be.”
Rigoglioso will always remember going one-on-one with Kemba Walker in eight minutes against National Champion Connecticut and his first career basket against Norfolk State. But most importantly, he will remember the feeling of accomplishment that comes with hard work paying off.
“I always thought that I would come out on top,” he said. “It’s not what I dreamed of, but I know I’m proud of myself. I’m proud of what me and Mike did here. It’s been a good ride.”
Rigoglioso and Kuhn are in the same field and will look together for opportunities in finance.