UConn's NJ Contingent Ready for Rutgers - NBC Connecticut
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UConn's NJ Contingent Ready for Rutgers

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Hey, whatever gets you motivated. By out count, there are 13 players on the Huskies roster from New Jersey, including standouts Nick Williams, Ryan Wirth and Dwayne Gratz, and they're using that fact against this Saturday's opponent, Rutgers.

    The Scarlet Knights call Newark, New Jersey home. They're 4-0, ranked 22nd in the country, and are the early favorites in the Big East. These are all reasons for the Huskies to knock them off. But some of the UConn players are also using Rutgers' decision not to recruit them as added incentive this weekend.

    "I committed to UConn after prep school," Wirth told the Hartford Courant's Jeff Jacobs. "And you know what? Rutgers was in the door the next weekend. Since high school, it's always been that kind of deal for everybody on my team."

    Meanwhile, Gratz, who grew up in the shadow of Rutgers' football stadium, laid it all on the table about his hometown team.

    "I don't like Rutgers," he said. "I never have. I never will."

    Not surprisingly, Gratz's story is a lot like Wirth's.

    "The funny thing is, Rutgers didn't offer me until UConn did," he continued. "I kind of built a little hatred for them, because I always wanted to go there. It was kind of disappointing to know they only wanted you because another Big East school did."

    Disappointing and weird, frankly. On the one hand, we guess it's the Cliff's Notes guide to recruiting -- just do what the other teams in your conference do. On the other hand, it's a strategy that's bound to fail: recruiting is as much about building relationships that lead up to an offer as anything. If all Rutgers did was say "Hey, you wanna come to our school because we just saw the Huskies give you a scholarship?" then it goes a long way in explaining Gratz's frustrations.

    But hey, it could be worse. "I wasn't even afforded that luxury," said Williams, who never heard from Rutgers.

    After this weekend, if all goes well, Rutgers will have a much clearer picture of who Williams is -- as well as the rest of his Jersey teammates.

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