Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan is a man on the run
NEWARK, N.J. -- When new coach Eddie Jordan spoke at a dinner with Rutgers' basketball boosters the other night, there was a disposable razor in his jacket pocket.
The former Scarlet Knights star was going to use it before addressing the crowd, but he never found the time. The stubble on his face was evidence.
Since taking over the scandal-marred basketball program a week ago Tuesday, life has been nonstop for the 58-year-old Jordan.
There have been interviews to fill out his staff. Trips to Philadelphia and Hampton, Va., to watch potential recruits in AAU tournaments. Breakfasts with his current players and talks with others he hopes will come to Rutgers either this year or down the road.
"It's fun working like this," Jordan said Thursday in a telephone interview, after apologizing for calling 15 minutes later. Another meeting went a little long and there were four more on tap after the interview. "It's fun. It's been something that I have been looking forward to doing for a while."
In the past week, three players who sought transfers in the wake of the scandal left the school. Leading scorer Eli Carter went to Florida. Guard Jerome Seagears, who was expected to be the ballhander this season signed with Auburn and swingman Mike Poole has decided to go to Iona.
Shane Rector, the highly-regarded point guard who was the cornerstone of former coach Mike Rice's recruiting class, signed with Missouri.
Rector has dropped his commitment in the wake of the scandal that showed Rice either grabbing his players, throwing basketball at them or uttering homophobic slurs when unhappy with their play.
Jordan knew the exodus was a possibility when he left his job as an assistant with the Lakers to return to the university that he led to the Final Four in 1976.
"When I had to first team meeting with everyone I told them, `They were either 100 percent in, and if you are 50-50, you're out.' At the same time I tried to convince them to be 100 percent in. In the ensuing days I guess they were too much 50-50 and decided to leave. I am glad they found what they are looking for. I am glad for them and I am glad for us."
Junior college transfer Craig Brown of Broward College has signed a letter of intent to play at Rutgers.
Jordan can't comment on anyone else, but guard D'Von Campbell, who played at junior college powerhouse Hutchinson (Kan.) and power forward Junior Etou, a cousin of NBA big man Serge Ibaka, are expected to sign letters of intent.
Etou of Bishop O'Connell in Virginia played for the DC Assault AAU team coached by Jordan during the lockout a year ago.
If there is a hole on Rutgers roster it's a guard.
Myles Mack returns from last year's starting five along with big man Wally Judge. Campbell could be the point guard but after that there a lot of wing players with Brown joined by holdovers Kadeem Jack and Malick Kone, who is expected to stay after requesting a transfer.
"We may be playing bigger, playing some swing players at the two guard, because first and foremost we want to defend. I understand how important shooting is and we can develop our guys to be better shooters and maybe get a dynamic shooter. But if we can get our wings into the defensive mode and get some turnovers and get some stops, and get out on the break and get easy buckets, that will alleviate the need for a big-time shooter."
Jordan, who has spent more than two decades coaching in the NBA and been a head coach three times, hasn't had much of a chance to walk around campus and get acquainted with student body and the faculty.
The scandal was a major black eye for the university, especially with the gay slurs being uttered couple of years after a freshman committed suicide after being filmed by a roommate during an intimate encounter with another student.
Jordan plans to speak with as many people as possible about their concerns. His immediate challenge, and he stresses the word challenge, was to stabilize the basketball team.
"Everyone understands what happened and everyone understands how long it took for me to get signed and named the head coach," Jordan said. "It was a process that was patiently done. When I was named, everyone understood I was behind the eight-ball in trying to get talented players immediately. But we've got some talented players, some seasoned players and some tough players. We did a good job.
"I said all along it's a challenge, and that' s why you prepare yourself all these years. You prepare yourself to come back and accept a great challenge, and here it is."
Shaving will come when there is more time.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press
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