Rutgers former player, manager give account of Rice’s practices


While we all can (well, most of us can) agree that the Mike Rice practice video that recently got himself and Athletic Director Tim Pernetti fired is pretty awful.

So the guys over at The Big Lead spoke to a former Rutgers team manager as well as a former player to find out if Rice’s antics were an all-the-time affair.

Austin Johnson, a senior forward said he and others on the team were “shocked” when Rice was suspended and fined in December for the transgressions. But immediately it was swept under the rug since the university didn’t release any details on the case.

Then the Outside The Lines piece aired, and after that, everything changed.

Though according to the team manager, Seth Mucha, outbursts like the ones that Rice had in those practice videos weren’t as common as it appears.

“Once every couple weeks or every month.” He added, “[Rice’s] intentions were to get the most out of his players. I was there for two years and I never thought he was trying to hurt anyone.”

The story goes on with Mucha and Johnson defending Rice as a coach, though they definitely weren’t defending Rice for his use of offensive slurs and generally awful language towards his team on these occasions.

“He was wrong for what he did and how he went about it,” Johnson said. “But I know his intentions were to try to change the culture and turn Rutgers into a winning program.”

Both men said that Rice was more cognizant of his temper and his overall mood last season, much better than the previous two seasons. Though it didn’t seem to matter to the Rutgers brass when time came to make a decision.

Johnson was not one of the players abused by Rice. He added that he believes that Rice will coach again, because everyone forgives.

“I thought this country was built on second chances and forgiveness,” Johnson said. “You can forgive the President and other coaches … with time and space, people will forget and maybe he’ll be able to coach again.”

Follow David Harten on Twitter at @David_Harten

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?