Give Mike Rice credit, despite all the evidence in front of him, he trusts his team.
Forget the fact that the team gave up a 19-0 run in the last 4 and a half minutes of the first half which had Rutgers going from up 10 to down 9. Forget the fact that, despite Rutgers getting back into the game and even tying it at 52, they couldn't get a key stop or a key rebound when they needed it. Forget that the Scarlet Knights had only made 3 three pointers the entire game. Forget the fact that it felt like Bryce Cotton and Vincent Council had been toying with the Knights all evening.
No, Mike Rice trusted his team. They were down 3 with 48 second left. And Mike Rice wanted to get the stop.
He didn't want to foul. He didn't want to extend the game (and, in a way, thank God because it was already ten after eleven, and I had an hour plus drive home). He wanted his team to get a stop, and bring the ball up with about 13 seconds left and make a game tying 3.
Providence worked the clock down, and Council danced past Mike Poole and got to the hoop. He got an unabated lay-up.
And it's too bad. Dane Miller had a night, finally, and scored 17. Kadeem Jack continues to grow into a superstar with 15 points and 10 rebounds. There are pieces for the Scarlet Knights. There are players who are starting to grow and mature.
But they can't put it together as a team. Rutgers is too easy to scout, and too easy to beat defensively. Switch and switch and switch and you can cause a match-up problem. Wally Judge is either really hurt or a huge disappointment.
And they gave up a 19-0 run. The game changed there. The crowd felt it.
It was that kind of night. A night that emulated all that was Rutgers' season. From Eric Murdock, the bane of Mike Rice's suspension, sitting behind the Providence bench, to the hot Rutgers start, to the moment where they fell asleep at the wheel.
This was every game, every night since the Big East season started.
Rutgers played hard. They brought it, and they still couldn't get a stop when they needed it.
There's something missing from this team. A glue. A gel. A common purpose. There's something missing, and now they're destined to play on Tuesday night in the Big East Tournament.
But Mike Rice trusted his team last night. He probably trusts them to pull off a miracle over the next few weeks as well.