Mike Rice

Mike Rice Firing: How Eric Murdock’s departure set off chain reaction

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Here’s the sad part about Rutgers men’s basketball coach Mike Rice being fired: if video never surfaces, then he still has a job.

And why did the video surface?

Because whatever spat that Rice got into with former staff member Eric Murdock couldn’t be resolved cordially. Murdock did not have his contract renewed by the university, so he blew the whistle. He went to Rice’s boss and tried to get him fired. When that didn’t work, he went to Outside The Lines and made sure that the world saw the video, because if the world didn’t see the video, Rutgers was going to do nothing more than smack Rice on the wrist and sweep this under the rug.

I doubt Murdock ever gets a job coaching in the college ranks again. There’s a no snitching policy when it comes to coaches, and that’s why it took Bruce Pearl so long to climb the coaching ranks after he recorded a conversation between himself and a recruit that he lost out on. That’s why Abar Rouse, who blew the whistle on Baylor’s Dave Bliss, spent so long in coaching oblivion.

That’s the truly sad part here.

MORE: Rice isn’t the only coach who behaves this way

Because the details of what was on that tape wasn’t a secret. We all knew about it. When Rice was suspended for three games back in December, Brendan Prunty — who did a terrific job getting out in front of this story — of the Newark Star-Ledger reported that the punishment was the result of:

an internal investigation that revealed abusive, profane language used by Rice toward his players and an incident during his first or second season in which Rice threw basketballs at some players’ heads during practice.

Again, to reiterate, we knew about this!

Is there anything on the video that we watched on Outside The Lines that is different than what Prunty reported back in December? Or is the change in attitude simply the result of the fact that we all finally had a chance to see the video and react to it ourselves?

In the end, it’s the reaction to the video that got Rice fired and, in all likelihood, is going to get Rutgers AD Tim Pernetti fired.

MORE: Rights group expresses support for Rice’s firing

But the root cause for the firing?

Allowing Murdock to walk away angry.

Because if Murdock leaves the Rutgers happy, or if he is still employed by the university, Rice is still firing basketballs at his players.

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You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

VIDEO: Duke’s Grayson Allen beats No. 7 Virginia at the buzzer

Duke's Grayson Allen (3) and Marshall Plumlee (40) react during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Louisville in Durham, N.C., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. Duke won 72-65. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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Notre Dame’s Steve Vasturia sparks come-from-behind win over No. 13 Louisville

Notre Dame’s Steve Vasturia (32) goes up for a shot over Boston College’s Idy Diallo (4) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Robert Franklin)
(AP Photo/Robert Franklin)
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Demetrius Jackson scored 20 of his 25 points in the first half and Steve Vasturia scored 15 of his 20 points in the final 20 minutes as Notre Dame landed a 71-66 win over No. 13 Louisville on Saturday afternoon.

The Fighting Irish trailed by as many as 11 points early in the second half, but Vasturia’s hot shooting combined with Notre Dame holding Louisville to just 15 points in the final 15 minutes made all the difference.

The Fighting Irish are not as good as they were last season, but they are built in a similar mold. Jackson, as we expected, as become one of the nation’s most dynamic point guards, impossible to slow-down in isolation and ball-screen actions. Steve Vasturia emerging as a legitimate secondary option offensively and Zach Auguste is one of the nation’s most underrated big men and one of the most dangerous as the roll-man in ball-screens.

Combine all of that with a handful of shooters creating space and Bonzie Colson’s emergence as a force on the offensive glass, and Mike Brey once again has one of the nation’s most lethal offensive attacks.

Where they struggle is on the defensive end of the floor, which is what makes the end of Saturday’s win so meaningful. The Irish entered the day ranked 232nd in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric, which more or less means they’re as good as a bad mid-major program at keeping their opponents from scoring.

But they don’t have to be great to be able to win games.

They have to be good enough and they have to get important stops.

That’s precisely what happened on Saturday.

Whether or not that actually becomes a trend for this group will be something to monitor — it happened for Duke during last year’s NCAA tournament — but the bottom-line is this: Notre Dame does something better than just about anyone else in college basketball, and that’s score the ball.

On the nights they are able to gets some stops, they are going to be able to win some games. In the last eight days, they’ve proven that, beating North Carolina, Clemson on the road and Louisville.

And that makes them dangerous in March.