Rutgers

Big East Basketball Tournament - Second Round - Rutgers v Notre Dame

Rutgers junior guard Myles Mack expected to lead the way in 2013-14

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To say that the 2012-13 season wasn’t a smooth one for the Rutgers basketball program would be an understatement. Video of Mike Rice’s behavior in practices became public in the spring, resulting in his firing, the resignation of athletic director Tim Pernetti and four players deciding to transfer.

There are new leaders of both the athletic department (Julie Hermann) and basketball program now, with former Rutgers player Eddie Jordan grabbing the reins as the Scarlet Knights begin their lone season in the American Athletic Conference before moving on to the Big Ten. Jordan’s expected to be a stabilizing force for the program, but the fact of the matter is that he’ll need some help from the players who decided to remain at Rutgers.

One of those players is junior guard Myles Mack (13.6 ppg, 2.7 apg), who led the Scarlet Knights in scoring last season and is expected to do the same in 2013-14. And according to Matt Sugam of SNY.tv Mack’s become the team leader, albeit in a quiet “lead by example” manner.

“He leads by example,” senior forward Wally Judge said. “He comes in and he prepares just as hard as anyone else. He doesn’t look at it like ‘I’m the leading scorer. This is my team and I’m going to do this and do that.’

“He’s fitting in, but at the same time standing out. He’s a walking contradiction. I don’t know how to say it. He’s quiet, but his actions speak volumes.”

As Judge put it, Mack has “become more vocal without saying a lot.”

Rutgers has a chance to be competitive in the American thanks to the return of players such as Mack, fellow guard Jerome Seagears and forward Wally Judge, and the addition of transfers J.J. Moore (Pittsburgh) and Kerwin Okoro (Iowa State). Whether or not the Scarlet Knights make good on this depends on two areas: chemistry and stability.

Mack’s performance, both as a player and a team leader, will be one of the key factors for Rutgers in 2013-14, and in a way the Paterson, N.J. native can help shape the future of Rutgers basketball. Given the amount of talent the state’s produced over the years, it’s somewhat fitting that a native of the Garden State is being asked to lead the way.

Phil Martelli coping with more than just basketball challenges

Phil Martelli
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Losing at home in the first round of the NIT and failing to meet the high expectations set out for a team at the beginning of a season would be tough for any coach to cope with during the offseason. Make no mistake about it, St. Joseph’s head coach Phil Martelli isn’t happy about his team’s conclusion to a very up-and-down season. He’s also not thrilled with the proposition of replacing forward C.J. Aiken who will not be returning for his senior season after declaring for the NBA Draft. But, in the grand scheme of things, these basketball related issues are the least of his worries.

In a story by Mike Jensen of Philly.com, Martelli has suffered through the passing of his sister–unexpectedly, due to heart failure–and his sister-in-law who lost her battle with cancer, and dealt with his elderly mother’s broken hip after falling all within the past two months.

Not to mention, the entire college basketball community has been made aware of his son Jimmy’s resignation as an assistant coach at Rutgers following the Mike Rice scandal.

It is well-documented that being a college basketball coach is a pressure-filled occupation–imagine your job depending upon the performance of 18-22 year old kids–so to compound those pressures with difficulty at home has taken its toll on Martelli.

The night of St. Joseph’s home loss to St. John’s in the NIT was when Martelli’s sister was dealing with heart complications. To give you an idea of just how sudden her death was, Martelli remarked: “my sister was on the phone with my secretary, asking if I’d leave tickets for my nephew.”

When he received the news of his sister’s passing, he said: “Basically, for no other description, her heart stopped beating. If the normal heart works at 75 percent capacity, my sister’s heart was working at 5 percent. Systems started to fail. It wasn’t a heart attack, it wasn’t a stroke. She was 53, with a 9-year-old.”

The lone bright spot over these past few months is that, despite his mother’s tumble and subsequent broken hip, she is recovering very well: “[She is the] shining light in this whole thing. She’s doing great. She’s encouraged by her therapy. She’s getting around. She’s getting out. I wouldn’t have bet on that.”

Being the head coach at St. Joseph’s for nearly 20 years, the performance of his program constantly weighs on his mind. The fact that the Hawks haven’t won an NCAA Tournament game since their run to the Elite Eight in 2004, and haven’t made an appearance in the Big Dance since 2008 doesn’t make this time any easier for him. Understandably so, many of the St. Joseph’s faithful are wondering whether Martelli’s time is up on Hawk Hill, to which he responded with: “We’ve got to get better. I don’t begrudge anyone their opinion. Here’s my only thing – the greatest angst over winning or losing a game is felt by myself and my players and my staff.”

Martelli, who is regarded as one of the true gentleman to coach in college basketball, is ostensibly welcoming the challenge of bringing St. Joseph’s back to an NCAA Tournament as it acts as a nice distraction from everything that has transpired off the basketball court. St. Joseph’s figures to be somewhere in the middle of a competitive Atlantic 10 conference next season after losing Aiken and graduating Carl Jones.

You can find Kevin on twitter @KLDoyle11

Rutgers to launch independent investigation of Mike Rice case

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Less than one week after the firing of coach Mike Rice and just days after the story deepened with news of an FBI investigation into the case, Rutgers has launched an independent investigation into the conduct of Rice and the way in which the situation was handled over the weeks and months that followed, the AP is reporting.

The investigation stems from practice video that was leaked to the media by former Rutgers staffer Eric Murdock, who was not retained by the school prior to having provided the tape to ESPN’s “Outside the Lines”. Since the tape went public, Rice has been fired and athletic director Tim Pernetti has resigned.

According to a report, Pernetti is due to receive $1.2 million, two years worth of health insurance, car allowance, and an iPad as part of settlement with the university.

There have been calls for the resignation of President Robert Barchi, as well, with many citing the lapse between when Rice was suspended for the behavior seen on the tape five months prior and his firing this past week. There appeared to be discrepancies about when the video tape was seen and by whom.

More on that from the Associated Press:

Also Monday, board chairman Ralph Izzo said that one board member – athletics committee chairman Mark P. Hershhorn – had seen the video in December. Izzo said that it was not shown to other members and while the topic of the coach’s conduct was discussed at a committee meeting in December, it was not discussed at the whole-board meeting that month.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Report: FBI investigating possible extortion by Rutgers whistle-blower Eric Murdock

Eric Murdock
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The FBI has reportedly launched an investigation to examine whether former Rutgers staffer Eric Murdock, the man who leaked videotapes that ultimately led to the firing of coach Mike Rice, tried to extort his former employer.

According to a report in the New York TimesMurdock’s lawyer sent a letter to the university with a request for $950,000 that came two weeks after Rice was suspended in December for his practice behavior. The university declined to pay the money demanded in the letter and Murdock leaked the practice footage to the media.

The video footage of Rice grabbing and kicking his players, as well as yelling homophobic slurs and throwing basketballs at them, has led to the resignation or firing of no less than four Rutgers officials, according to the report.

In the wake of his departure from Rutgers, Murdock filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the university and a number of officials there. The university claims his contract was not renewed for reasons that did not include his status as a whistle-blower and instead because “he left Rice’s basketball camp early and without permission, among other factors,” according to the report.

From the New York Times:

James Tareco, a special agent with the F.B.I., visited [former Rutgers AD Tim] Pernetti’s office and other locations at Rutgers, the university official said.

The investigation, which is being led by the F.B.I. office in Newark, is in its early stages. A spokeswoman for the F.B.I. said that following policy, she could neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Rick Pitino, politicians, coaches, players react to Mike Rice’s firing

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In the wake of a leaked video tape that led to the firing of Rutgers coach Mike Rice, coaches, politicians, and players have reacted. Most are in line with the opinion of the Rutgers administration, approving of the firing of Mike Rice. Some former players defended Rice or at least helped to give the situation context. Look at the list below:

Louisville coach Rick Pitino:

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Rutgers senior center Austin Johnson, via NJ Hoops Haven:

“It’s been really unfortunate. I feel a lot of times people get really wrapped up in emotion and they forget he (Rice) has a family. There’s always another side to the story.”

“I feel really bad right now. He (Rice) wears his emotions on his sleeve and he’s such an intense person who has such a great desire to win, and often I felt like that gets perceived as a little crazy.”

“You…have to take into account he rest of the practice and everything else that goes into a basketball program as a whole. You can’t judge everything based on a however-long video.”

New Jersey governor Chris Christie:

New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester), via Newark Star-Ledger:

On Rice’s behavior: “unacceptable and beyond common decency”

“Why is it that we are only finding out the facts now, months after this occurred?” Sweeney said in a statement. “… Rutgers needs to explain why this was kept essentially secret.”

Andy Glockner, Sports Illustrated

Dick Vitale, ESPN

Jeff Goodman, CBSSports.com

Rob Dauster, NBCSports.com

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

What is next for the Rutgers administration in wake of Mike Rice’s firing? (VIDEO)

Tim Pernetti
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Once the state’s governor goes as far to release a statement regarding the coaching situation at a school, it’s all but done. When that governor is Chris Christie, a man with a good deal of national visibility, it’s really done.

Rutgers fired head men’s basketball coach Mike Rice Wednesday morning after video leaked to the press that showed the him grabbing and pushing players, as well as using profane language that included a homophobic slur. The move prompted a nod of approval from Christie’s office, via his Twitter account.

But there is one overriding problem that remains in this situation. The man guilty of the acts themselves is gone, but what about athletic director Tim Pernetti? Pernetti was the one who found Rice’s suspension early in the season satisfactory enough and, had this video not leaked or had whistleblower Eric Murdock not left the program, Rice might still have his job today.

“I am responsible for the decision to attempt a rehabilitation of Coach Rice,” Pernetti said in a statement Wednesday. “Dismissal and corrective action were debated in December and I thought it was in the best interest of everyone to rehabilitate, but I was wrong. Moving forward, I will work to regain the trust of the Rutgers community.”

This was not an isolated incident, like the shove we know of that happened between Mike Montgomery and Allen Crabbe earlier this season at California. The tape leaked Tuesday at Rutgers showed a pattern of behavior over a period of time.

The question will ultimately come down to how much accountability there is within that particular program. Should the four-month delay between the evidence of the wrongdoing and firing of Rice be enough to oust Pernetti as well? Does it even go higher up the chain of command beyond him?

With that in mind, there appears to be a contradiction in what Rutgers president Robert Barchi has said about the timing of when he viewed the tape:

“Yesterday, I personally reviewed the video evidence, which shows a chronic and pervasive pattern of disturbing behavior,” Barchi said, as reported by NJ.com. “I have now reached the conclusion that Coach Rice cannot continue to serve effectively in a position that demands the highest levels of leadership, responsibility and public accountability.”

That runs contradictory to this question to Pernetti, via NJ.com:

Q. Has Rutgers president Robert Barchi seen the tape – and if not, has he been made aware of everything that’s on it?
A. “Yes and yes. President Barchi and I worked closely together when this issue came up. We worked closely together with members of the board. He’s a lot like me. We deal with everything in the wide open. We had the same concerns but we felt strongly that the actions that we took was important to take and deal with it.”

Rutgers has not released any specific statements about the job status of Pernetti yet, but the old adage rings true again in this situation. The coverup is typically worse than the crime. Had Pernetti and Rutgers officials fired Rice at the time of the initial viewing of the tape, the public might have slapped them on the wrist for not knowing about the events at practice sooner and it would have been Big East and college basketball news.

But now, with the national spotlight focused upon them, Pernetti and Rutgers have to answer questions about how they viewed that footage and came to the conclusion that a suspension was enough and the incidents depicted merited no further action. And that is not an easy one to answer at this point.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_