Former Rutgers head coach Mike Rice was fired in early April after a practice tape surfaced, showing physical and verbal abuse towards his players.
It has been nearly three months, and on Tuesday Rice shared the floor as an instructor with some of the top college and high school players in the country during the week-long Nike Skills Academy in Union, N.J. Rice confirmed his participation through a text message to Yahoo! Sports.
[UPDATED 6:50 p.m.] Matt Sugam of SNY.tv is denying the initial report that Rice was coaching on Tuesday
“Just watching,” Rice told SNY.tv by text. “I did no work outs.”
Yahoo! Sports has since updated it’s original story with a text from Rice saying he was “a viewing guest of John Lucas.”
Rice has been seen coaching before, two weeks after his firing, coaching his daughter’s AAU team.
Adrian Wojnarowski reported Rice helped out in drills and practice situations, according to coaches who watched practice on Tuesday. Wojnarowski went on to report that Rice has been in anger management at the John Lucas Wellness and Aftercare Program.
Rice was fired after three seasons with the Scarlet Knights, finishing with a 44-51 record. Following Rice’s exit, athletic director Tim Pernetti resigned. It didn’t get much better for Rutgers when the hiring of new head coach Eddie Jordan and new AD Julie Hermann also drew additional controversy.
Yahoo! Sports reported that Rice had previously been working with players in pre-draft workouts while at Lucas’ gym in Houston before helping out at the Nike Skills Academy this week.
Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne
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.