Rutgers didn’t have a spring to remember.
After being forced to fire former head coach Mike Rice after a video of him verbally and physically abusing his players, and after Athletics Director Tim Pernetti was forced to resign because he didn’t fire Rice when he first saw the video, Rutgers went out and hired new head coach and alum Eddie Jordan that never actually received his degree before hiring Julie Hermann as their new AD.
Hermann, if you’ve forgotten already, then had a number of skeletons drawn out of her closet, which included an incident from her stint as a volleyball coach at Tennessee where she partook in the same bullying behavior that got Rice axed.
After months of getting relentlessly pounded by the media, Rutgers has finally had a chance to catch their breath.
And now they are trying to fight back against perception, as Hermann sat down with Tara Sullivan of NorthJersey.com to discuss the issues surrounding her hiring. In regards to the treatment of her team at Tennessee, Hermann said:
“I responded about the letter. Never seen the letter. Never heard of the letter. My boss said she never saw the letter or heard of the letter. So I’ve never heard of that. And I said that publicly already,” Hermann said. “Was I aware that we were dealing with a ton with that team? Yes. And because of that, from that team what I learned, was when you have that much going on with a group of young people, it no longer becomes about the sport.”
Pressed for details about the types of problems her team was dealing with, Hermann said, “I don’t want to disrespect those women. A lot of my silence is respecting that. It’s very [difficult]. But to me it’s the only thing to do.”
When asked about her inability to recall being in the wedding party of a former assistant coach — a wedding where she caught the bouquet — that sued the school, Hermann said:
“Because of what I do, I go to a million weddings, and I’ve been in a million weddings,” Hermann said. “You’re talking about a wedding 20 years ago that, by the way, wasn’t a big production. I think she said, ‘You wear a size 12, and here’s your black dress.’ And I do not intend to be facetious, but when you’re 6 feet tall and a volleyball player, you always catch the bouquet. I took some heat about the bouquet.”
This really isn’t all that different from how Hermann has handled answering these questions all along, and the bottom line is that none of it bothers Rutgers enough to remove her from her current position. She’s not going anywhere regardless of how many times her name is printed in a negative light.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.
The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.
They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.
That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.
So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.
Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:
With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.
At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes
“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:
“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”
“It’s all money.”
Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.
Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .
Want to talk about coaching luxuries?
Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.