By Richard Kent BASN Writer
Updated: December 19, 2011
NEW YORK, NY (BASN)–Was it the Holiday Festival of old? Nope. Nothing like the thrilling 3 overtime Rutgers win over Ohio State in 1979. But it was local. Very local and Rutgers coach Mike Rice, a Fordham graduate likes that. So did the announced attendance of 11,090. No Duke level teams, but teams with rosters littered with local kids.
In the opener, Rutgers defeated a game but undermanned Stony Brook team, 67-58 behing 22 points from freshman Myles Mack who was 7-8 from the field. The game was never in doubt as Rutgers survived a rebounding deficit with a suffocating press. The Scarlet Knights, very young improved to 6-5 and are finding an identity under second year head coach Rice.
Last year Rice was playing with some veterans from an old regime and this year he has many of his own recruits on the floor.
In the second game, St. John’s behind four freshmen and a junior college transfer outlasted a less athletic but game Fordham squad, 56-50. Steve Lavin has been sick and interim head coach Mike Dunlap handled the coaching duties, assisted by former Purdue head coach Gene Keady.
None of the teams in the Festival are ready for prime time, but all are capable of pulling an upset in their respective Conferences.
Rutgers is probably the best team of the lot and when they get injured center Kadeem Jack ready in January they could threaten any Big East team,especially at the RAC. They play a top Florida team on December 29 at the RAC in a game which marks the return of Rutgers transfer Mike Rosario.