PISCATAWAY, N.J.— The best shooters always believe the next one is going in. For Rutgers sophomore Elijah Carter, who leads the 11-4 Scarlet Knights in scoring, two bad games are not enough to scare away his jumper.
Carter is responsible for 23 percent of Rutgers’ field goal attempts, but has been unable to find the mark in two straight games. Rutgers overcame an off night at Madison Square Garden, but fell by 10 points over the weekend during Carter’s 4-for-25 stretch.
“I don’t feel like I lost my shot at all,” said Carter, who averages 16.1 points per game this season. “I’ve worked all summer to improve my game, so I have nothing but confidence in myself.”
Carter prepares the same way coming off a 20-point performance that he does during slumps and he expects to break out of his struggles soon.
“Practice has been really good,” Carter said. “I’m feeling confident and my teammates are keeping their confidence in me. It’s nothing to worry about.”
Rutgers coach Mike Rice said it will be a team effort to get Carter back on his game and the offense clicking against South Florida.
“We have to help him with it as well,” Rice said. “He has to become more patient and trusting with some of his teammates to get off the ball. We are being scouted better. There are bigger and stronger athletes and he’s being game-planned for. So we have to get to the second and third option.”
Improved shot selection is the first step, Rice said.
“It’s just taking quick, rush shots that are not conducive to winning,” he said.
Though admittedly frustrated with his last two shooting performance, Carter said he is pleased with the defensive improvements. Subbing Jerome Seagears into the starting lineup, Carter said, the three-guard look has been key to back-to-back strong performances on defense.
“We’re more confident with [Seagears] on the floor,” Carter said. “Most of the teams we’re playing have three guards out there, so that quickness on the perimeter is big.”