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

Knee injury temporarily sidelines Memphis assistant

Toronto Raptors vs Charlotte Hornets
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With practices beginning this weekend, not only are players looking to avoid the injury bug but their coaches are as well. And in the case of Memphis, the Tigers won’t have one of their assistants on the court for a little while due to a knee injury.

Assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who returned to Josh Pastner’s staff this summer after a two-year stint at Arizona, suffered the injury during a recent workout according to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. And Stoudamire will require surgery, which will put him on the shelf for a little bit.

“He was working out himself and I think he thought he was in his rookie year,” Pastner said. “We think he’s got a torn meniscus, which will require surgery and put him out for a couple of days.”

Stoudamire isn’t the only assistant coach working through pain either. Syracuse’s Mike Hopkins, who is also Jim Boeheim’s heir apparent as head coach, suffered a neck injury body surfing during a family vacation last month. Hopkins spent some time in a neck brace while putting players through workouts as a result of the injury.

As for the Tigers, they’ll have a mixture of experience on the perimeter and youth in the front court as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season. Among the newcomers are talented forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson, with experienced guards such as Kedren Johnson, Trahson Burrell and Ricky Tarrant (grad transfer from Alabama) expected to be key contributors on the perimeter.

Duke figuring out approach for this season

Duke University head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski speaks with the media about the Blue Devils' 2013-14 basketball season, Wednesday, March 26, 2014, in Durham, N.C. (Chuck Liddy/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty Images)
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Duke is coming off of a national championship but the roster will look almost completely different for the 2015-16 season. That means last season’s approach to things on the offensive and defensive end will have to change and head coach Mike Krzyzewski mentioned to reporters on Friday how the Blue Devils are still figuring some things out.

“We’re putting in a different offensive system, to personalize it for these guys,” Krzyzewski said to reporters. “And a different defensive system so that we can max out on the talents that they have.

“We’re really proud of our team. I think we’re going to be a really good team.”

Without Jahlil Okafor in the middle, Duke’s offense could shift to a mostly perimeter-oriented team, as the wing and guard depth is superior for this year’s group.  Coach K and his staff making adjustments to schemes to fit personnel is a nice move from the Hall of Famer, as he’s done a better job in recent years of making adjustments like this after his stint with USA Basketball.

As the program moves on from Okafor, Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow and Quinn Cook, it’ll be intriguing to see who emerges as a potential go-to offensive player early in the season and how Duke’s offense potentially evolves as the season wears on.