How common is Mike Rice’s behavior?


By now, you’ve probably heard: Rutgers men’s basketball coach Mike Rice has been fired over the video that was given to ESPN’s Outside The Lines by Eric Murdoch, a former NBA player and Rutgers staff member.

That video, which can be seen here, depicts Rice acting in an unacceptable manner towards the players he coaches. He pushes them, he tosses them around by the jersey, he fires basketballs at them and, in addition to a constant string of obscenities, Rice also uses a gay slur at one of his players.

It would be surprising if Athletic Director Tim Pernetti were able to keep his job when this is all said and done as well. Back in December, Pernetti suspended Rice for three games — ultimately costing him about a quarter of his yearly salary in fines — as a result of his conduct. Pernetti was made aware of the accusations last summer and saw the video in November. The fact that he didn’t fire Rice means that he determined this to be acceptable behavior.

When you’re a public figure, public perception plays a major role in your job, and right now, the perception of Pernetti and Rice couldn’t be any worse. Everyone, from the Governor of New Jersey to LeBron James, has weighed in, and the opinion is a consensus: neither man’s behavior was in anyway acceptable. Mike Rice didn’t last 24 hours after the video of his practices surfaced, and it may cost his AD his job as well.

Here’s the question that everyone wants to know: just how many coaches run practices like this? Plenty. Among them:

(This doesn’t include college football coaches such as Woody Hayes, whose temper cost him his job, or Texas Tech coach Mike Leach who reportedly ordered him to stand in a darkened garage after suffering a concussion.)

The bottom line? This kind of behavior — bullying, intimidation and what borders on physical assault — is no longer acceptable in the coaching ranks. Anyone that feels the need to do so to motivate his players knows full well that he’s risking his job.

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I think it’s also worth noting that both Rice and Gillispie were coaching teams that stunk. Maybe abuse isn’t the best coaching technique, eh?

MORE: How an assistant’s departure sealed Rice’s fate

Basketball coaches can curse with the best of them. Listening to the way they talk to the referees would make George Carlin blush, so imagine how they speak to their players — their subordinates — when the spotlight is gone and ESPN isn’t taping. You can sit in on a Mick Cronin practice and learn five new cuss words a day.

But the physical nature?

Throwing basketballs are players from point blank range?

Kicking them? Pushing them? Tossing them around?

MORE: Rights group expresses support for Rice’s firing

That’s not common. And while I’m sure there are places that it does happen, I wonder how many of those coaches are reconsidering their behavior after watching what has happened with Rice and Gillispie.

Sadly, I have a feeling that quite a few practice tapes bit the dust last night, as well.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Michigan State playing zone? It’s possible

Tom Izzo
Associated Press
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Throughout Tom Izzo’s tenure at Michigan State the team’s half-court man-to-man defense has been a staple, and the Spartans have generally proven difficult to have a high rate of offensive success against. The reliance on that defense is why Izzo’s conversations earlier this summer about using some token full-court pressure due to the shortening of the shot clock caught some people off-guard.

According to the Detroit Free Press there’s another wrinkle the Spartans may use, and it’s likely that this wrinkle will show up more often than the full-court press. During Friday’s opening practice the Spartans worked on a 2-3 zone, and Izzo wants his assistants to make sure the team works on the defense consistently throughout the season.

That’s also why zone in general isn’t going to get heavy play at MSU, but having it as a tool could be beneficial — especially in games with touch fouls on the perimeter called in droves.

“I told (my assistant coaches): ‘You hold me accountable to working on it every day some’ … I have a tendency to drift off on that, and I don’t want to drift off on it,” Izzo said of the 2-3 zone. “But we will be, rest assured, a 90-some percent man-to-man team still and hopefully take some of those principles to zone.”

As noted in the story one of the risks in using pressure is allowing quality shots, which is why it’s unlikely that Michigan State will go to it. But even with Izzo vowing that his team will work on the zone, that doesn’t mean they’ll be playing it as often as Syracuse does.

Man-to-man has been Michigan State’s staple and it will continue to be. But it doesn’t hurt to look for other ways to keep opponents from getting the looks they want, especially if teams have five fewer seconds to find those shots.

Virginia used 3-on-3 to adjust to new shot clock

Malcolm Brogdon
Associated Press
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When the college basketball rules committee made the decision to trim the shot clock down to 30 second from 35, one reason for the switch was the desire to improve offensive production. With offensive numbers at their lowest point in years, proponents of the move see the shot clock change as a necessary move if scoring is to improve.

Whether or not that winds up being the case will be seen throughout the upcoming season, but teams are still having to make adjustments during the preseason.

Virginia, which has played at a snail’s pace (and with great success, mind you) in recent years, made some adjustments to their summer work in anticipation of playing with a 30-second shot clock. One adjustment was more games of 3-on-3 with a 15-second shot clock, which forced all involved to be more decisive in their offensive decision-making.

While the pack-line defense will always be a staple of Tony Bennett’s teams, the feeling in Charlottesville is that they’ve got the offensive firepower needed to both play faster and be more efficient offensively than they were in 2014-15 (29th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy). One of the players who will lead the way is senior guard Malcolm Brogdon, who led the team in scoring and was a first team All-ACC selection, and he discussed the team’s outlook with Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

And even though Anderson’s highlight-reel shot blocking was the thing that frequently fueled fast-breaks for U.Va. last season, Brogdon and [Anthony] Gill said they expect this year’s team to actually push the tempo even more.

“I think we’re going to be a team that gets out and runs more,” Brogdon said. “I think we’ll have three guards on the floor, most of the time, will be able to handle the ball as a point guard and get out in transition. I think we’ll play a lot faster.”

Brogdon and Gill are two of the team’s three returning starters with point guard London Perrantes being the other, and the Cavaliers also return most of their reserves from last year’s rotation. That experience will help them on both ends of the floor as they prepare for a run at a third straight ACC regular season title. And in theory it also allows them to extend themselves a bit more offensively than they did a season ago.