Mike Rice Jr. will be announced as the next head coach of the Rutgers men's basketball team tomorrow afternoon. Rice was an assistant to Jamie Dixon at Pittsburgh prior to arriving at Robert Morris. I wanted to get the opinion of a Panther fan who saw Rice in action for two years, so pinch-hitting today is friend of the site Chas Rich from Pitt Blather
Re: any (of my) fears that Rice is just Fred Hill wearing a toupee, as an inexperienced, recruiting-focused assistant.
He worked with the guards, I believe in practices.
As an assistant on Coach Dixon's staff, he definitely was involved in the game-planning, especially breaking down the opposing team's gameplan.
Here's Chas's overall take on Rice and the coaching search.
Well, I think he's a good hire -- not the least is because he's willing to do the hard work, and unlike Hill he actually can do more than recruit. He took over a good situation at RMU. The prior coach had the program improving in the NEC, but built it better. He has recruited well, even, there. But clearly coached up the players.
Unlike Hill, I would say that Rice working for coaches Martelli and Dixon has taught him a lot more about preparation and coaching. Both coaches have deserved reputations for running strong practices that teach and actual coaching.
Is he fiery and emotional? Yes. But there's a difference between that and being out of control. Rice doesn't have a history of antagonizing the other team's coaches, fighting with the administration, and being a whiner (i.e., Bobby Gonzalez). Rice actually builds relationships. He was on good terms with both Coach Dixon and Duquesne's Ron Everhart while at RMU. Very different coaches and reputations.
In recruiting for Pitt, he helped re-open the Philly area for Pitt. Being the primary to help land Nasir Robinson and Brad Wanamaker. He also laid the ground work to get Lamar Patterson. Not to mention Travon Woodall.
It's a jump up from RMU to Rutgers, but is it really that much a bigger leap from Northern Arizona to Pitt (Ben Howland)?
You seem to be arguing degrees that the progression from a low mid-major conference program to a major conference bottom feeder with a demoralized fanbase and facility in need of major upgrades is too big a jump.
The fact is, like Pitt when it made the move to hire a relatively unknown Ben Howland 1999, the Rutgers job is not attractive. When you throw in the issue of conference instability, that really doesn't help. Even if the Big Something grabs Rutgers by December. There will be a 27 month divorce to follow. Or to put it this way -- a 3 year conference lameduck status. Not the easiest for recruiting.
Thanks again to Chas for chiming in. We can only hope that he's right.