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Two players defend Mike Rice
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On April 4, 2013 @ 11:00 pm In Wirenews | Comments Disabled
by Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
Two Rutgers players came to fired coach Mike Rice’s defense on Thursday.
Rice was fired Wednesday, the day after a video aired on ESPN’s Outside the Lines showing him shoving, grabbing and throwing balls at players in practice and using homophobic slurs.
But those abusive actions were only one side of Rice, the players suggest, in revealing phone interviews with The Associated Press.
“You can’t let those individual moments define what he was,” Rutgers junior forward Wally Judge told The Associated Press on Thursday. “In my past two years, me being an older guy and being under other coaches, I have grown from the moment I stepped in these doors, not only as a player but also as a person because of how he has treated me. …Honestly, a lot of the things that have been seen have been taken out of context. A lot of things that aren’t seen are when we grab him and kid around. Like I said before, when people ask me why did I play for him, I told them ‘He’s a players’ coach.’
“Mike was almost like a big brother. He would get on the floor with us and go through drills with us. He made it fun. When you have a big brother-type of figure, you know you can play around like that. I have grabbed Mike and put him in a headlock and we joke around and kid. That was the type of relationship he built with his players.”
Sophomore forward Austin Johnson echoed his teammate’s sentiments.
“He did a lot for us off the court, academically, socially. I have to say I enjoyed my time, even it was an emotional rollercoaster,” told The Associated Press. “I feel if people had a chance to see the other portions of practice, or had been at practice, their judgment would not be as severe. I am not saying what he did wasn’t wrong, because I do believe it was wrong. But it is also tough because it was a highlight reel of his worst moments.
Judge insisted Rice wasn’t a “villain” and that he hopes the next coach is someone … [For more on Two Rutgers players defend fired coach Mike Rice, click here.]
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