‘Hopefully our guys are ready’: Expectations are high as Rutgers men's basketball preps for season opener

College basketball was one of the first major sports to shut down back in March, but now, it’s set to return next week, and this includes Rutgers University.
For the first time in more than 40 years, Rutgers men's basketball has earned a preseason ranking, and expectations are high for the 2020 squad, but the Scarlet Knights know they have to play defense against more than just their opponents this year.
“We're going to throw it up on the 25th and hopefully our guys are ready, like I tell them there's a lot of things we can't control, nobody is going to be in the gym this year,” says head coach Steve Pikiell. “We have to bring our own energy, whoever we play we've got to be ready to play. It's really going to be more about us staying healthy and ready to play than the opponent.”
Fifth year coach Pikiell says the team has been going through daily antigen testing for the last month. With COVID-19 cases on the rise and programs going into quarantine across the country, Pikiell says scheduling will be a recurring issue throughout the season.
“I think we'll be scheduling well into the year this year, this is going to be a different kind of season,” says Pikiell. “I think we're going to be calling schools in January saying you lost a game, we lost a game, you have a free day do you want to play, so I see that happening too so.
Despite the many challenges COVID-19 presents, Pikiell says he's confident in how his veteran players have developed
“I'm really excited about our depth because I think we've tried to build a program that has had depth, I play my depth, we're only going to be as good as our bench too, so I feel like this year more than ever, your depth is really going to get tested,” says Pikiell.
Rutgers University opens with Sacred Heart next Wednesday.