PISCATAWAY, NJ – Rutgers Basketball has a new men’s head coach.
At Tuesday’s press conference at the Livingston College RAC where the Scarlet Knights team plays, Athletic Director Pat Hobbs formally introduced his pick to take over the embattled program which has had five straight losing seasons.
Steve Pikiell, who just last week led the Stony Brook University Seawolves to their first ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament against Kentucky, thanked the Rutgers community for having confidence in their selection of him to take over a program that is struggling to gain traction in the Big Ten Conference.
“This has always been a dream job for me,” said Pikiell, who had five consecutive 20-win seasons with the Seawolves. “I am humbled and very appreciative and very thankful to have this opportunity.”
“This is the person we want to lead (this team),” said Hobbs. “We were searching for somebody with character, somebody with integrity, somebody with intensity, and somebody with a plan.”
Hobbs described the new head coach as a striver who rises above whatever is his situation.
“At every stage of his life he has achieved success,” he said. “The programs he has been involved with were at the bottom and significantly improved with Pikiell on board.”
Pikiell is used to taking on the challenges of turning around a team. Recruiting players who want to play is his priority, as well as making improvements within the team itself.
“We’re going to make players better,” said Pikiell, himself a former college player. “It’s not how good you are when you arrive, it’s how good you are when you leave.”
Pikiell finished his 11 seasons with Stony Brook with a 192-155 record, and was named the 2016 America East Coach of the Year. He also led the Seawolves to four America East Regular Season titles as their head coach.
Pikiell’s vision is to make the Scarlet Knights program a destination for athletes.
“I believe in Rutgers University,” he said. “I believe we will dance.”