Can Mike Rice Change Rutgers?

Can Mike Rice Change Rutgers?

It seems like every four or five years Rutgers finds a new coach. The latest is Mike Rice. After three successful seasons at Robert Morris, Coach Rice took over the Scarlet Knights last season and led them to a respectable 15-17 record. That is only respectable by Rutgers standards. Rutgers went after a young coach who did not have much head coaching experience. His three years in Moon Township, Pennsylvania were his only years as a head coach prior to heading to New Jersey. Prior to that he was hanging around his home state as an assistant at St. Joseph’s and Pittsburgh.

However, his youthful enthusiasm has given more hope to the program. It has also helped out in recruiting. This year the Scarlet Knights have brought in a very good eight man recruiting class. One figures Coach Rice has four more years with this group to build a winner. And for a school that has not been to the NCAA Tournament since 1991, the definition of winner is tough to define. In the Big East, Coach Rice may just need a couple NIT appearances and a few more promising recruiting classes to keep his job.

The bigger question is can Rutgers ever really win in the current Big East? The addition of TCU will keep Rutgers ahead of at least two teams for the foreseeable future (I’m counting you too DePaul). But consistently finished 14th or 15th in the league is not going to cut it. Eventually, the Big East will dissolve into two conferences…probably. Hopefully. And that will be a good thing for Rutgers. Not having to play Georgetown or Marquette or probably Villanova will make things easier. Right now there are just too many established teams in the conference for Rutgers to move up the pecking order too far.

With that said, Rutgers can certainly make a postseason tournament this year. The freshmen will have to play a big role in that success, but they are that good. A year or two or three down the line, Rutgers should be looking at the NIT and possibly the NCAA Tournament. If Coach Rice can reach the NCAA Tournament in three years, he might be here to stay.



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