New York Colleges: Rutgers

Murdock: Rice treated players 'like slaves'

June, 14, 2013
During an 11-minute recording riddled with profanities, Eric Murdock said that former Rutgers coach Mike Rice treated his players “like slaves.”

“Just cracking the whip. That’s all you’re doing. [You’re] cracking the whip. And when the [expletive] can’t deliver, you cut his toe off like [expletive] Kunta Kinte,” Murdock, attempting to characterize Rice's approach, said in the recording, which was taken on June 29, 2012.

The recording was obtained by The Chronicle of Higher Education through public records.

Rice was fired by the university after “Outside The Lines” obtained video, provided by Murdock, that showed he abused his players. Murdock served as Rice’s director of player development for three seasons before his contract was not renewed. Murdock felt that was unjust.

According to The Chronicle, the recording was taken by an assistant coach. It was used by the university in its investigation of Rice.

Murdock filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the school. He is being investigated by the FBI for possible extortion.

Rutgers' Rice fired up at media day

October, 17, 2012
Mike Rice is entering his third season as Rutgers' men's basketball coach -- but he hasn't lost any of his feistiness.

Upon greeting him at Big East media day on Wednesday at the New York Athletic Club, Rice immediately took issue with a story ESPN colleague Eamonn Brennan wrote last week, in which he ranked Rutgers' upcoming nonconference schedule among the 10 worst in the country.

Rice was half-teasing, but had a serious response to the criticism as well.

"I laugh at it because, I think there’s some very good games," Rice said. "Whether it’s Iona, at Princeton, at Ole Miss, BU ... I think because we’re not playing in an exempted event, that it took away some of the marquee-ness of it. But I need time to prepare with this team. I need time to adjust with this team.

"Year 3 is -- you gotta make sure your team is moving forward. But I still think there’s some very good quality opponents that will allow us to prepare for the Big East."

It is indeed an important year for the 42-year-old, who is 29-35 in his first two seasons at Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights won five Big East games in 2010-11, and six in 2011-12, and are still searching for their first NCAA tournament bid since 1991.

"I feel very good," Rice said Wednesday, when asked about the state of the program. "We’re building. What wins in this league are pros and veterans and experienced players. We’re getting to be where we have some experience, and we’re getting to be where we have some talent. We’ve won some recruiting wars. Again, the next step is moving up the ladder, so to speak, in the win/loss column."

His fellow coaches aren't expecting a big jump this season -- Rutgers was picked to finish 11th in the 15-team conference in the Big East preseason coaches poll. That's exactly where they finished last season, tied with St. John's.

But there is reason for optimism. Sophomore guards Eli Carter, Myles Mack and Jerome Seagears -- three of the team's top five scorers as freshmen -- have a year of seasoning under their belts.

"They made a leap physically," Rice said of the three guards. "They made a leap with how hard they’re working in the offseason. I have no idea if that’s gonna translate to efficient production when the light comes on. I think it will."

The loss of power forward Gilvydas Biruta (9.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg), who transferred to Rhode Island, will hurt. But in his place is 6-foot-9, 250-pounder Wally Judge, a former McDonald's High School All-American who transferred from Kansas State. "He is the most physical and athletic player I’ve probably ever coached as a head coach," Rice said of Judge.

And the biggest key could be senior swingman Dane Miller -- a player with a bundle of talent, who's been frustratingly passive at times, particularly on the offensive end of the floor.

Miller was a unanimous selection to the Big East All-Rookie team three years ago, but saw his scoring average dip to a career-low 7.9 points per game as a junior, at least in part because he took only 6.1 shots per game.

When asked about that Wednesday, Miller cited a lack of confidence at times last season. I really don’t know why I lost so much confidence," Miller said. "There was a point in time when I lost so much confidence that I didn’t enjoy coming to practice, I didn’t enjoy just being on campus. I don’t know why or how I lost it. Maybe it was a mental thing."

Miller sounds like has a healthier mindset coming into this season. "We all know Dane has the physical tools," Rice said. "It’s just, can he bring it -- not just on a daily basis, can he bring it on a minute by minute basis? I like what he’s showing me right now, and so we’ll see."

Indeed, we will. Rutgers should be one of the more intriguing teams in the conference this season. They've proven themselves capable of pulling off big upsets in Rice's first two years at the helm, with three victories over Top 10 opponents. But can they be more consistent?

Are they ready for a big breakthrough, like Rutgers' 6-0 football team appears to be?

"In the end, this team controls its own destiny," Rice said. "If they wanna be good, I think we can. How many (wins), what’s the number? I’m not sure. They just have to work and understand what it takes to be consistent in this league, what it takes to be successful."

Rutgers football ranked in both polls

September, 23, 2012
Rutgers entered the college football national rankings on Sunday, placed in the Top 25 in both the Associated Press and USA Today/Coaches polls.

The Scarlet Knights were ranked No. 23 by the AP, and tied for No. 25 in the other poll. It's the first time since Sept. 30, 2007 that the team appears in both polls. This is just the sixth season in school history in which the team has been ranked.

Rutgers is off to a 4-0 start, following its impressive road win over an SEC opponent Saturday night, beating Arkansas 35-26. Sophomore quarterback Gary Nova completed 25 of 35 passes for 397 yards and five touchdowns. Nova's passing-yard total was the third-highest in school history.

The Scarlet Knights -- under first-year head coach Kyle Flood, who replaced Greg Schiano, now the head coach of the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- return to action on Saturday, Oct. 6, when they will host UConn.

Rutgers football picked third in Big East

July, 31, 2012

The Big East released its annual preseason football media poll on Tuesday, and Rutgers was tabbed to finish third in the conference this season.

Louisville finished at the top, receiving 24 of a possible 28 first-place votes, and 219 points overall.

South Florida finished second, picking up the other four first-place votes, and 176 points overall.

Rutgers accumulated 155 points. Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Syracuse and Temple finished fourth through eighth, respectively.
Eric LeGrand isn't the only Rutgers player to sign with an NFL team in recent days.

Four other Scarlet Knights who went undrafted in last week's NFL Draft have signed free agent contracts: fullback Joe Martinek (Giants), offensive linemen Desmond Stapleton (Steeleres) and Desmond Wynn (Buccaneers), and defensive lineman Justin Francis (Patriots).

They hope to join wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, the third-round pick of the Bengals, in the NFL next season.

Tampa Bay Bucs sign Eric LeGrand

May, 2, 2012
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, under former Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano, signed Eric LeGrand to a contract on Wednesday.

LeGrand is the former Rutgers defensive tackle who was paralyzed in a game against Army back in 2010.

Click here to read more.

Rutgers' Sanu drafted by Bengals

April, 27, 2012
Former Rutgers wide receiver Mohamed Sanu was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the third round of the NFL draft on Friday night.

Sanu was the 83rd player selected overall. Ironically, he went to the team that Sanu thought had picked him in the first round on Thursday night, which turned out to be a hoax.

Click here to read more.

Rutgers hoops signs Vincent Garrett

April, 26, 2012
Rutgers men's basketball coach Mike Rice has added another player to the mix for next season.

Vincent Garrett, a 6-foot-5 wing player originally from Chicago, has signed to play for the Scarlet Knights starting in 2012-13.

Garrett averaged 16 points and 6 rebounds per game for Lee College in Baytown, Texas, last season as a sophomore. He will have two years of eligibility at Rutgers.

“Signing Vincent was a priority for us this recruiting period, and we are thrilled to welcome him into the program,” said Rice in a statement. “He is a very gifted athlete with the ability to score the ball at many levels. Vincent is also a mature young man who has developed and excelled due to a tremendous work ethic.”

Rutgers releases 2012 football schedule

March, 27, 2012
Rutgers released its full 2012 football schedule on Tuesday -- its first slate under new head coach Kyle Flood.

The Scarlet Knights will kick off the season with a road game at Tulane on Saturday, Sept. 1.

Here is the full schedule:

Saturday, Sept. 1: at Tulane
Saturday, Sept. 8: Howard
Saturday, Sept. 15: at South Florida
Saturday, Sept. 22: at Arkansas
Saturday, Oct. 6: Connecticut
Saturday, Oct. 13: Syracuse
Saturday, Oct. 20: at Temple
Saturday, Oct. 27: Kent State (Homecoming)
Saturday, Nov. 10: Army
Saturday, Nov. 17: at Cincinnati
Saturday, Nov. 24: at Pittsburgh
Thursday, Nov. 29: Louisville

Gilvydas Biruta leaving Rutgers

March, 21, 2012
Rutgers power forward Gilvydas Biruta is transferring to another school, Rutgers announced on Wednesday.

The 6-foot-8 sophomore from Lithuania started all 32 games for Rutgers this season, averaging 9.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. He was a key contributor for the Scarlet Knights the past two years -- this is a significant blow for the program.

“Gilvydas is a fine young man and we appreciate his contributions to the program,” said Rutgers coach Mike Rice in a statement. “We wish him the best in his future endeavors, both on and off the court.”

Rutgers' season ends on a sour note

March, 7, 2012
NEW YORK -- When the final horn mercifully sounded Tuesday night, just before 11:30 p.m., Mike Rice wasted no time exiting the Madison Square Garden floor.

After the perfunctory handshakes with the opposing coaches and players, the Rutgers head coach stopped on a dime, turned and walked briskly back toward his team’s locker room, head down, shaking his noggin the whole way.

Who could blame him?

Rice had just watched his team go from up four at halftime to down 21 at the buzzer, and its season end in the process -- a 70-49 loss to Villanova in the opening round of the Big East tournament.

“Obviously it’s very hard to win a basketball game only scoring three field goals in the second half,” said Rice at the postgame news conference.

That’s right -- Rutgers had just three buckets, total, in the final 20 minutes of play. The Scarlet Knights shot 3-for-25 -- that translates to 12 percent, for those of you without your calculators handy.

Those numbers are so ugly, they might break your calculator.

Meanwhile Villanova, which trailed Rutgers 34-30 at intermission, outscored Rutgers 40-15 in the second half.

“We made some mental errors that led to their transition, led to their wide-open looks in the paint, and it just snowballed from there,” said Rice.

Villanova’s second-team All-Big East point guard Maalik Wayns schooled the Scarlet Knights to the tune of 28 points, six rebounds and four assists.

Rutgers freshman Eli Carter almost matched him, with 23 points of his own. But none of his teammates scored more than seven.

“A young team might not have responded as well as I would have liked, but these things happen,” Rice said. “Learn from it. Hopefully use that as motivation in the spring and the summer to improve, to get stronger, to maybe be able to finish some of the shots down in the paint. But that’s life when you have a very young basketball team.”

Rutgers is indeed a very young team, with mostly freshmen and sophomores in the rotation. The Scarlet Knights won’t be happy with their 14-18 final record, or the way they played in the final 20 minutes of their season. But there were a few bright spots, such as wins over Florida and UConn in late December and early January, when both teams were ranked in the Top 10.

Carter, a freshman, was the team’s leading scorer at 13.8 points per game. Several other young players, like fellow freshman guards Myles Mack and Jerome Seagears, showed promise at times. And with no seniors on the roster (besides a pair of walk-ons), the entire nucleus will be back -- plus Wally Judge, a talented transfer from Kansas State.

Junior forward Dane Miller, who will be the team’s senior leader next season, talked about how the team can improve after the game. “I think a couple things that we’ve got to work on is just attention to details,” Miller said. “Being locked in and being real focused on both ends of the court. I think now, as the games go by, we saw that you can’t win a lot of games like that without being focused. We just need to come in during the offseason and listen to Coach Rice and the whole coaching staff and we should be very successful.”

“We’re going to lock them in the weight room, too,” Rice said, chuckling.

That was about the only chuckle we saw from Rice after halftime Tuesday night. Rutgers has now endured six straight losing seasons, including the last two under his watch. But Rice sounded as confident as ever after the game, despite such a tough loss.

“It’s going to happen,” Rice said. “Rutgers is going to happen.”

Rapid Reaction: Villanova 70, Rutgers 49

March, 6, 2012

Overview: Rutgers' second season under coach Mike Rice ends in very disappointing fashion, as the 11th-seeded Scarlet Knights are blown out by the 14th-seeded Villanova Wildcats in the opening round of the Big East tournament.

This game was there for the taking -- Rutgers actually led by four at the half! But things took a very different turn after intermission (see below).

Meanwhile Villanova, which had a very underwhelming regular season to say the least, goes on to play another day.

Turning point: Rutgers trailed Villanova 24-16 with 6:52 remaining in the first half, but from there the Scarlet Knights went on an 18-2 run to take a 34-26 lead, and led 34-30 at intermission. Rutgers shot 7-for-11 from 3-point range in the first half.

Villanova got off to a fast start in the second half, while Rutgers went ice-cold shooting the ball and had turnover problems, too. The Wildcats took control of the game with a 12-2 run to start the half, and never looked back. The Scarlet Knights' offensive numbers in the second half were simply abominable (see below). The outcome was a formality in the final minutes.

Key player: Maalik Wayns, Villanova's second-team All-Big East guard, was outstanding as usual, finishing with 28 points, six rebounds and four assists. Rutgers simply could not handle him.

For the Scarlet Knights, freshman guard Eli Carter was excellent, scoring 23 points. But no one else scored more than seven points.

Miscellaneous: Rutgers shot 13-for-30 in the first half (43.3 percent) overall, and as we said earlier, 7-for-11 from downtown. As for the second half? The Scarlet Knights were 3-for-25 (12 percent) -- it doesn't get much worse than that.

What's next: Villanova will face the No. 6 seed, South Florida, on Wednesday night at approximately 9:30 p.m.

Rutgers' season is over -- the Scarlet Knights finish with a record of 14-18, 6-12 in Big East regular season play.

Halftime: Rutgers 34, Villanova 30

March, 6, 2012
Here are three halftime observations from the second game of the day here at the Big East tournament:

LATE SURGE: Rutgers trailed Villanova 24-16 with 6:52 remaining in the first half, but from there the Scarlet Knights ripped off an 18-2 stretch to take a 34-26 lead, and lead 34-30 at intermission. Rutgers god red-hot from the perimeter -- how hot? Well ...

THIS HOT: Rutgers shot a blistering 7-for-11 from downtown in the first 20 minutes. Eli Carter, who has a game-high 15 points, connected on three of four. Myles Mack has hit a pair, and Dane Miller and Jerome Seagears have one apiece. Coach Mike Rice said after Rutgers beat St. John's three nights ago that if his team just hit open shots, they'd be dangerous.

THE OTHER SIDE: Villanova is hanging in there by outscoring Rutgers 8-1 on the foul line. Maalik Wayns has nine points to lead the Wildcats.

Rutgers slips past St. John's at the RAC

March, 4, 2012

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Winning ugly -- that's what Rutgers did Saturday night.

But it counts just as much in the standings.

In the last game of the Big East regular season, the Scarlet Knights (14-17, 6-12 Big East) squeaked past St. John's, 61-58, and in the process gained the No. 11 seed in next week's Big East tournament.

The Red Storm (13-18, 6-12 Big East) lose the head-to-head tiebreaker with Rutgers, and have to settle for the No. 12 seed.

"This is a confidence builder, going into the Big East tournament," said Rutgers guard Mike Poole. "We just needed to get this win."

The game was far from aesthetically pleasing, but the biggest play of the day was a beauty -- Dane Miller's put-back one-handed slam off an Eli Carter miss with nine seconds left, putting Rutgers ahead 59-58.

"It's all about angles rebounding the ball," said Miller, who posted his seventh double-double of the season, with 10 points and 10 boards. "I knew where he shot it from, I just ran straight to the rim and I was in the air -- when the ball came out it went right to my hands."

"It's a fitting moment, especially of the way he's played the last four weeks of the season," said Rutgers coach Mike Rice. "When he gives that energy and that toughness, we're a much better team."

Jim O'Connor/US PresswireDane Miller continued his fine play of late against St. John's, and made the play of the game.
Neither squad led by more than five points over the course of 40 minutes. St. John’s guard D'Angelo Harrison missed a long 3-point attempt with under five seconds remaining -- and following a pair of Carter free throws, saw his half-court heave rim out at the buzzer, which would have tied the game.

"I had a chance to win it," said Harrison, who had a team-high 17 points but shot just 6-for-17 from the field. "I didn't take advantage of it."

Fellow Big East Rookie of the Year candidate Moe Harkless had an off night, with just eight points, shooting 4-for-15.

Neither team shot better than 37 percent from the field. But their performances at the foul line were drastically different. Rutgers made 16 of 21 attempts from the charity stripe; St. John's was just 10-for-22.

"It was a matter of us, our ability to hit our free throws," said St. John's coach Mike Dunlap. "You can talk about this play or that play, but that right there, that piece is glaring to me."

The Red Storm entered the game shooting 68.4 percent from the foul line, ranking them 196th in Division I -- the middle of the pack. But free throw misses have cost them dearly in several games this season.

As for Rutgers, Rice was happy with his team after the game, despite the fact they shot the ball so poorly -- including just 30 percent in the first half, which ended in a 25-25 tie.

"I was proud of them, and they didn't understand," Rice said. "It wasn't phony at halftime. I was really proud of our guys. They were awful, and yet they defended. And yet they just hung in there. They found a way, and in this league you have to do that."

Dunlap was proud of his guys, too, coming off an 89-69 pounding at Pittsburgh three nights before.

"For us to come in here off of the Pitt loss and perform the way we did, rock solid," Dunlap said. "Defensively I was really disappointed in our effort [against Pitt], and I thought our effort tonight was drastically different."

Rutgers, which won two of its last three to end the regular season, will now face No. 14 seed Villanova on Tuesday at 9 p.m. The Wildcats just beat the Scarlet Knights two nights ago at the RAC, 77-71.

"I hope this gives us energy. I hope this recharges our batteries," Rice said. "I like the fact that it's a quick turnaround with somebody who just got done beating you -- hopefully that's a little more added motivation."

St. John's also has a quick turnaround -- they get a rematch with No. 13 seed Pittsburgh, Tuesday at 2 p.m.

“We’ve gotta rebound better,” Dunlap said. “[Pitt] absolutely beat us from pillar to post off the glass. So that was something that I think we can correct.”

“They beat us pretty bad,” Harrison said, of Pittsburgh. “We felt like we didn’t play our brand of basketball. We’ll be at home, so we’ll definitely have a lift going into that game.”

Both teams finished with six conference wins. But for Rutgers, it’s their most Big East victories since 2005-06.

“They deserve it,” said Rice of his players. “They fought through a lot of different circumstances this year, especially for a young team.

“They’re getting better. They’re not as soft. They’re responding better. That’s all it is.”

Now these two teams, both chock-full of freshmen, wade farther into unchartered waters -- postseason play.

How will they handle this stage? We’ll find out starting Tuesday afternoon.

The regular season is in the books, folks.

March Madness has officially arrived.

Rapid Reaction: Rutgers 61, St. John's 58

March, 3, 2012

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- A quick take on Rutgers' 61-58 win over St. John's on Saturday night at the Rutgers Athletic Center.

WHAT IT MEANS: In the final game of the Big East regular season, Rutgers secures the No. 11 seed in next week's conference tournament. The Scarlet Knights (14-17, 6-12 Big East) will play No. 14 seed Villanova on Tuesday at 9 p.m.

St. John's (13-18, 6-12 Big East) falls to the No. 12 seed, and will play No. 13 seed Pittsburgh on Tuesday at 2 p.m.

THE SKINNY: The first 20 minutes was about as ugly as it gets, for both teams. St. John's shot 35.3 percent, Rutgers 30 percent. The Red Storm were 0-for-9 from 3-point range, and 1-for-7 from the foul line. Neither team led by more than five, and it was 25-all at intermission.

The second half wasn't much prettier. Trailing 42-38, St. John's went on an 8-0 run, highlighted by a pair of D'Angelo Harrison treys, to make it 46-42 with just under eight minutes remaining. The game stayed tight from there. A 3-pointer by Myles Mack gave Rutgers back the lead, 57-56, with 1:16 remaining -- but then a putback by God'sGift Achiuwa made it 58-57 with 45 seconds left. Rutgers' Dane Miller followed that up with a spectacular one-hand jam off a rebound to make it 59-58 with nine seconds left.

Following a timeout, Harrison missed a deep 3-pointer with under five seconds to play. Eli Carter made two free throws with 2.6 seconds left, and Harrison's half-court heave at the buzzer hit the rim but bounced out -- close, but not enough.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Carter had a team-high 15 points for Rutgers. Mike Poole had 11, while Mack and Miller had 10 points apiece. Miller also had 10 rebounds.

Harrison led St. John's with 17 points, but shot just 6-for-17 from the field. Amir Garrett scored 14 points, and Achiuwa chipped in 12. Moe Harkless scored just eight points, and shot just 4-for-15.

NUMBER CRUNCH: Neither team shot better than 37 percent from the field for the game. And St. John's was just 10-for-22 from the foul line. It cost the Red Storm dearly.

WHAT'S NEXT: The Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden, starting Tuesday at noon.