Mike Rice Exhibited Pattern Of Overly Intense Behavior Before He Got To Rutgers As Head Coach Of Robert Morris
Rutgers head basketball coach Mike Rice has come under fire after video has surfaced of him bullying his players in practice, including throwing basketballs at players, shoving them and cursing at them which led to his firing this morning.
Given Rice’s on court demeanor, both at Rutgers and during his previous job at Robert Morris, the player abuse caught by Rutgers cameras isn’t all that surprising.
Back in November of 2009, Mike Rice’s Robert Morris Colonials came to the University at Albany for a four team round robin event that was a part of the 2K Sports Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. The group also featured Detroit and Alcorn State in addition to Robert Morris and UAlbany.
At the time I was a sophomore in college and, as a college basketball fan, the thought of watching three days of hoops for zero dollars in an empty arena with a couple of close friends and girlfriend (who somehow tolerated three days of watching random teams play basketball in SEFCU Arena with me. Can we retroactively make her a medal for that?) was awesome.
The basketball itself, on the other hand, wasn’t the best. Alcorn State was in the early stages of a two win season, UAlbany won two of their seven games that season during the event, and Detroit looked like the only truly competent team in the building, sweeping their three games.
Robert Morris, who eventually gave Villanova a scare as a 15 seed in the NCAA Tournament, was finishing off a 1-4 start that weekend, winning only their game with the pathetic Alcorn State. This obviously led to a frustrated Mike Rice.
Without any fans in the building for the games that didn’t feature UAlbany (if you look at the attendance figures for the games, you will see a number around 2,000 for UAlbany games and N/A for all of the others to give you an idea of just how few people there were), my group and I sat in the student sections in the seats that were closest to the benches of the teams. We were immediately drawn to the demonstrative Rice’s side of the court for his three games.
Anyone that Mike Rice could scream at, Mike Rice screamed at. Referees were the primary target, but when he saw something that he didn’t like from his players, he made sure to let them know about it, usually loudly and with the accompaniment of a foot stomp on the floor or another nonverbal gesture to illustrate his frustrations.
Even in his team’s first win of the season, a 107-76 win over Alcorn State at SEFCU, we witnessed Rice screaming and stomping his way through the final minutes. Forget the fact that his team was up by 30, or that they shot over 50% for the game, or that they forced 22 turnovers. Mike Rice wasn’t done yelling yet.
As college sophomores, we all loved the way Mike Rice carried himself on the court, only because we found it hilarious. If I was doing then what I am doing now, I surely would have rolled my eyes at his antics and wished that he would just shut up.
Now, by no means am I saying that Mike Rice was abusing his players while he was coaching at Robert Morris, but he has exhibited a pattern throughout his career to be intense to say the least. Even during his time at Rutgers, he was routinely seen screaming on the sidelines, with announcers simply noting that he had an intense demeanor on the sidelines.
Also, it can be argued that plenty of coaches around the country yell just as much as Rice does on the court without being guilty of the same transgressions that he was. That is certainly true, however, when an intense demeanor leads to abuse, the patterns exhibited in someone’s past look a lot less innocuous and a lot more like warning signs.