Recapping Rutgers basketball’s rebuilding season

New head coach Coquese Washington‘s first season for the Scarlet Knights was less than stellar. A short roster, lack of recruiting, and some interesting offensive sets led to an 11-19 overall record.

A rebuild is underway

Entering the 2022-23 season saw the Scarlet Knights lose eight players to graduation, plus Kierra Sanderlin, Tyia Singleton, Sakima Walker, and Joiya Maddox would enter the transfer portal. Coquese Washington was given an uphill battle in her first year as head coach. Few additions to the roster would lead Rutgers to have only eight players all season. Additionally, they’d add three transfers in Kassondra Brown from Saint Peter’s, Kai Carter from UNC Ashville, and Abby Streeter from Hartford. Finally, freshman additions would be just two players with Kaylene Smikle (No. 11 ranked wing in espnW’s rankings) and Rutgers Prep standout Antonia Bates.

Offensive difficulties

Rutgers would finish the Big Ten standings with an overall record of 11-19, 5-13 conference, and an eleventh-place finish. Offensively, Rutgers would be ranked last in points per game with only 63.4. Defensively wouldn’t fair any better, ranking last in points allowed at 74 per game. Shooting would rank the Scarlet Knights 13th overall at only 40.4 percent per game. Additionally, they would shoot 30.3 percent from the 3-point range. Furthermore, they would end up tenth in rebounds per game at 36 per game and last in assists per game (11.0). Rutgers would rank worst in the Big Ten in turnovers, averaging 19.7 per game.

Positive outlook

Rutgers will only (currently) lose one player from their roster, Abby Streeter. Barring any players entering the transfer portal, they should be able to continue to develop this roster and improve on a lackluster season. One player committed to next season is point guard Jillian Huerter. Without a true point guard this season, the addition of Huerter should enable the Scarlet Knights to reduce their turnovers. Washington may also tap into the transfer portal this offseason to boost her roster past eight players.

Freshman Kaylene Smikle has been their star this season. After a rough start to the season, Smikle settled in and became their offensive standout. Averaging 17.5 points per game on 39.5 percent shooting isn’t exactly worth freshman of the year nominations. However, Smikle has dropped at least 20 points through 13 games, including a career-high 29 points against Maryland on Jan. 2.

Coquese Washington era

Washington was dealt a major blow with the mass exodus entering her first year. The C. Vivian Stringer era was over and there was a major shift in the game at Rutgers. There’s no Cappie Pondexter, Kahleah Copper, Betnijah Laney, or Arella Guirantes on her roster. This upcoming offseason will tell whether Rutgers can get back in the Big Ten and contend with the likes of Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, or Ohio State.

Up next: Rutgers heads to the Big Ten tournament in Minneapolis, where they’ll face Northwestern in the first round on Wednesday.

Check out Beyond Women’s Sports for more women’s sports coverage. Todd Roman is on Twitter too. Follow Todd @TBRBWAY.

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