NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 09: Head coach Mike Rice of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights gestures from the bench during the game against the St.Johns Red Storm during the second round of the 2011 Big East Men's Basketball Tournament presented by American Eagle Outfitters at Madison Square Garden on March 9, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
"I actually like how this ended."
The words popped up on my computer screen. A buddy of mine sent them via IM after we'd been going back and forth cursing out the referees for about ten minutes. I responded incredulously.
But he said, "Yeah. The more I think about this, it's a good thing in the long run."
More after the jump...Look at it this way. The ending of the Rutgers St. John's game sucked. No two bones about it, Rutgers should have gotten another 1.7 seconds to try and tie or take the lead. And if they had, it would have been legendary.
But, most likely, they would have followed it up with a very pedestrian loss to Syracuse, a team with a ton of talent and fresh legs. And, while fans of the team would have long remembered the St. John's victory, the public wouldn't. The tournament would go on, the NCAAs would go on. St. John's would play, but it wouldn't be mentioned.
Instead, we have this. A situation where the Rutgers Scarlet Knights were treated horribly by a referee team that seemed to want to get off the court as soon as possible. They didn't review the play, they didn't take another look, they didn't give Rutgers another chance.
And in the end it's all going to work out.
Because look at the press. Look here. Look here. And look here. Everybody had a comment. Dickie V. PTI, Around the Horn. Chris Christie. Francesa. Look at any newspaper, any sports talk radio program, any sports highlight show.
This story is everywhere.
And now Mike Rice is known across the country. It started by beating Villanova with a miracle. It ended with a sin. But everyone knows who he is. They know him as the Big East's class act. They know him as the guy who took his undermanned team and gave a ranked team a huge scare on their home court in the biggest stage and was robbed of a chance to get that victory.
Did he want to win? Of course. Would a win have been sweet? Ask any Rutgers fan that today. They'd give their fingernails to have that chance.
But now? Rice can walk into any high school court in the country and people will know who he is. He can get the play-by-play guys on his side.
And... now... Rutgers might finally get some calls.
Rutgers' season may be over, but the NCAA season isn't. Plenty more to come from On the Banks including a look back at the team and a season recap. Plus a look at the Big East in the NCAA and some bracket stuff. Stay tuned.