Eddie Jordan did what he did Thursday night against Memphis to send a message, and he sees that message as received by his players after a week of practice.
Jordan played the same five faces for all 10 minutes of the conclusion of a 64-59 loss to the No. 22 Tigers. He did it to send a message, Jordan said after the game, and he thinks it worked.
“I didn’t have to address anything as far as the rotation or anything like that,” Jordan said. “I think they got the message, but going forward, we just have to respond. We responded in practice. Let’s respond in the games.”
Rutgers (10-17, 4-10) got some time off during the six days between games. The Scarlet Knights resume play Wednesday at UCF, which sits behind Rutgers in the AAC standings.
Rutgers practiced twice since the Memphis loss, and has more on the schedule before tip-off.
“They seem to be (more) serious and disciplined than before,” Jordan said. “That’s what we’re looking for. … You’re focused, you’re serious and that’s how it needs to be.”
When Rutgers next takes the court, expect a similar look to the Memphis game.
Myles Mack played 35 minutes at guard, and will continue to see a similar role. Jordan stuck with Junior Etou, Craig Brown and Malick Kone for the final 10 minutes of the game and used captain Kadeem Jack at center.
Jordan liked what he saw, and plans to stick with what worked.
“For the most part, yeah, I am still hanging my hat on the guys who I trusted in the game on Thursday,” Jordan said. “…It’s going to be their responsibility as much as it is mine to see who is going to move forward the next few games and going into the tournament. They have to learn to trust each other, and they have to learn how to do things so I can trust them.”
Jordan holds all of his players to a standard, and rewarded the ones that lived up to their expectations.
Kone and Brown average a combined 30 minutes and 7.5 points per game this season, but were the biggest winners in Jordan’s rotation changes. Look for both to continue their increased roles against UCF.
“Try to do things right,” Jordan said. “We’re all going to make mistakes. But if you’re trying to do things right, if I coach you during the game where it’s a constructive criticism, are you willing to be coached? Those guys are. I like their purity of heart.”
Junior Jerome Seagears is the most noticeable change when it comes to decreased minutes. A multi-year starter at Rutgers, Seagears so his role limited to Mack’s backup and nothing more in the loss to Memphis.
Seagears spelled Mack for five minutes in the first half and did not return to the court.
“Jerome has helped us in some games, and he hasn’t had the minutes he thinks he deserves in some games,” Jordan said. “It’s just going to be my call. Are we going to stay big? Are we going to be able to be small in the backcourt? There are some things that we all have to get better at. It’s going to be my call as far as who is playing the right way that particular game.”
Jordan’s aim is for everyone, not just Seagears, to respond to the message he sent in the last 10 minutes of Thursday night’s loss.
“I’m hoping that all of our guys, not just Jerome, are willing to step in there and take a charge, are willing to move the ball and run the offense,” he said. “It just has to be that way, and I’m not singling him out. The other night, I just thought that one group of guys were pretty good for us.”