A Day that Couldn’t Have Gotten Any Better for Yours Truly
By Mike Rice Posted in: ncaa, rutgers
I must admit, last week my thoughts were not entirely on the Portland Trail Blazers. As you might know, my son, Mike, is the head coach of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. He is coaching in the most competitive college league in the NCAA, the Big East.
At the start of the year, because of only eight scholarship players on the team, they were picked to finish 15th out of the 16 teams in the league by the Big East coaches. There was not a lot of pressure on winning in a league that would send 11 teams to the NCAA tournament. But as the season progressed, the Scarlet Knights really competed night-in and night-out and had some really spectacular games. So, by the time the Big East Tournament came along I was hoping that maybe, just maybe, Rutgers could get a win. They played Seton Hall in the first round, a team they split with the regular season. It was a heck of a game. I watched in my hotel room until Seton Hall made a three-pointer at the end of regulation to tie the game and sent it into overtime. I was already a little late for the bus taking us to the arena to play Orlando. On our way over, Mike Barrett (who has a better cell phone than me), did play by play for the OT period. Rutgers won and with our win over Orlando that night, I was one happy father and Blazers announcer! Of course, that was only the small part of Rutgers and the Big East tourney.
On the next night, Rutgers played St. John's in the finals. You might have seen the final minute of that game on every sports show and talk show in the nation. It seems really bizarre to see your son in the middle of such a wild scenario. You don't really think of the refs or who is right or wrong, but you just hope that in such a wild atmosphere that he does nothing to damage his young coaching career. I was really proud of the way he handled his press conference after the game. Believe me, there is nothing like a press conference in Madison Square Garden in New York with the media from 16 teams wanting you to say something bad about the refs, and how they handled the last two minutes of that game (or didn't handle), just to add to their stories. I don't think even with a day to think about it I could have handled that situation. Mike only had a few minutes from the end of the game to when he met the press, and, as he always does, he spoke from his heart and it really made me proud to hear how he never blamed anyone, but said "it is what it is" and "next year we will try to do better". And believe me, both Rutgers and the Trail Blazers have a very bright future. And after the Miami game, I said to myself, I couldn't have it any better to be a fan of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and the Portland Trail Blazers.