Incoming students should prepare for fresh
Mike Vorkunov / Associate Sports Editor
Life is all about timing. How many times have you heard
someone explain their success as just "Right time, right
place?" For this incoming freshman group, the Class of 2012,
this motto has never rung louder.
You sure picked a good time to enroll at Rutgers. In fact,
it may never be better.
Four years ago, first-year students making their way onto
the Banks (That's what Rutgers fans call the Piscataway/New Brunswick
campus) were forced to inherit a football team that was coming
off a 5-7 season - one year removed from going 1-11. People were
calling for Greg Schiano's head. And the last time Rutgers had
registered a winning record, Michael Jordan still hadn't retired
- the first time. The 2004 season wasn't much better. Four wins,
one in the Big East. A home loss to a 1-AA team. And a 33-point
loss to Navy. Ouch.
But how times have changed.
This August, when you first make your way onto campus as
official Rutgers students, Schiano's team will be coming off
their third straight winning record. Two straight bowl wins.
A 2,000-yard rusher, the first in Big East history. One unforgettable
November night. And most importantly, a team that can contend
at the top of the conference standings in 2008.
Can I guarantee a Big East title along with your freshman
15? No. But just the fact that it is a possibility is already
a huge improvement and unbelievable to some.
The Big East is wide open this year. No team is the runaway
favorite, no team is definitely counted out (except Syracuse).
But definitely a chance to enjoy how far the team has come.
And before the football season is even done, Scarlet Nation
will have a chance to see how far the basketball program can
The last two years should be easy to forget for Rutgers
men's basketball fans. A combined 21- 39 record. Three conference
wins each season.
Even those stats are not ugly enough to describe how bad
the last two years were.
But that is all in the past. The future is all that matters
for head coach Fred Hill Jr.'s team.
He has recruited an incoming class that is ranked in top
25 in the country. Mike Rosario leads the way for the four-player
group. Ranked as one of the top 20 freshman recruits in the nation,
Rosario has already taken it upon himself to lead Rutgers basketball
to level of respectability that has not seen in a long time.
And a NCAA berth that has been 18 years in the making.
Greg Echenique will make for a perfect sidekick to the
sweet-shooting St. Anthony's product. Echenique, who played basketball
for rival St. Benedict's, is man-beast in the paint. Any time
Rosario may miss, the 6'9" center will be right there waiting
for a rebound and put-back dunk.
Not a bad time to be a Knight.
That is exactly what April Sykes, Jasmine Dixon, Brooklyn
Pope, Chelsey Lee and Nikki Speed think.
Those five players will make up women's basketball head
coach C. Vivian Stringer's 2009 recruiting class - maybe the
best ever in any Rutgers sport. A run to the NCAA Championship
game in 2007 may prove to be only a harbinger of success for
what this class can accomplish.
So congratulations on making it to college. Get ready for
four great years - maybe the four best that Rutgers sports has
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