Mike Rice’s former players defend him publicly


The last 48 hours have likely been brutal for former Rutgers men’s basketball coach Mike Rice, as he’s been bashed by everyone from sportswriters to the Governor of New Jersey — deservedly so — over the video that was released by former staffer Eric Murdock of Rice’s abusive practices.

It can’t be pleasant to get crushed over and over again, but Rice can take solace in one thing: his former players have come out to back him.

“They also don’t account for all the other things that go on in our program,” Austin Johnson told TODAY’s Natalie Morales. “Coach Rice has done a lot for me and my family.” Said Sean Bannon, “I think the large majority of the players felt the exact same way I did. I don’t think we were ever really uncomfortable or felt threatened.”

That’s a fair point to make. I’m sure that Rice did do some good things for his players, and I’m sure that the way the video was edited and shown on Outside The Lines completely ignored every time that he cheered on his players or congratulated them for a good play.

But that’s really besides the point.

The good things that he did really don’t matter.

Not when there’s video evidence of a coach pushing, kicking and throwing basketballs at his players while directing gay slurs their way.

Coach K would get fired if a video like that came out.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Boise State loses guard Harwell to torn ACL

Leon Rice
Associated Press
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Expected to be one of the favorites in the Mountain West this season, Boise State’s perimeter ranks have shrunk by one player due to injury. Thursday it was reported by the Idaho Statesman that freshman guard Malek Harwell will redshirt after suffering a torn ACL in practice. Along with fellow freshman Paris Austin, Harwell is expected to be a key part of the Broncos’ future beyond the upcoming season.

Now, instead of competing with an experienced backcourt that includes four redshirt seniors, Harwell will work to get his knee back to full strength for the 2016-17 season.

Among the guards who will play significant minutes this season are Anthony Drmic, who took a medical redshirt last season, Montigo Alford, Mikey Thompson and grad transfer Lonnie Jackson (Boston College). Chandler Hutchison, who started in Boise State’s final 18 games of the 2014-15 season as a freshman, will also compete for playing time.

Knee injury sidelines Illinois forward Leron Black

Josh Hart, Leron Black
Associated Press
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Illinois will be shorthanded in its front court for the time being, as during the team’s media day Thursday head coach John Groce announced that sophomore forward Leron Black is out due to injury.

Black will undergo surgery Friday to repair a meniscus tear in his knee, and he’s expected to miss anywhere from four to six weeks. A return after four weeks would have Black back on the court just before the Fighting Illini open their season November 13 against North Florida. Any longer and the Memphis native would wind up missing some game action.

Black averaged 5.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in just under 15 minutes of action per game as a freshman. He’s one of the players expected to contribute in the front court for the Fighting Illini, who lost their best interior defender and second-leading rebounder in Nnanna Egwu at the end of last season (guard Rayvonte Rice, who led the team in rebounding, is also gone).

In addition to Black and junior Maverick Morgan, Illinois adds redshirt freshman Michael Finke and grad student Mike Thorne Jr. (via Charlotte) to their front court rotation.