Rutgers basketball met today’s suspension with surprise but interim head coach Dave Cox and his team is ready to move forward without Mike Rice for the next three weeks.
Informed of the news by Rice and athletic director Tim Pernetti earlier today, Cox is in full support of Rice and confident in his own ability to lead the program on an interim basis.
“We’re going to move forward,” Cox said. “As a team this is a time for us to come together. Mike Rice is the reason many of us are here, obviously including myself, so we support him 100 percent.”
As Cox described it, Rutgers is missing its figurehead but has no intentions of falling apart in his absence.
“We’re without our captain, the chief, the pilot, the head of the ship,” Cox said. “… He has apologized and we will learn from this. As a team we’re going to move forward from this and be prepared for our game on Sunday against UAB.”
Cox and team leaders Myles Mack and Austin Johnson all stated they have no issue with the way Rice runs his practices. Rice brings intensity, but it is something everyone expected when joining the program.
“I was very shocked,” Johnson said. “I feel like me and my teammates were all very shocked. We need to rebound quickly and just turn around. … Even if it was high intensity, we reciprocate it and try to give it back.”
Cox compared his demeanor to coaches such as Bobby Knight, John Thompson and John Chaney.
“Being here with coach Rice, I would say he’s just as intense and as passionate,” Cox said. “I think times have changed and we probably, as coaches and adults, we have to come a little bit further to meet some of these young men that we’re working with.
Cox ran his first practice as a head coach today, as the team prepares for a noon tip against UAB Sunday at the Louis Brown Athletic Center.
“I just want to be more vocal for these guys,” said Mack, a team captain. “I know coach Cox is a calm guy. I just want to be more vocal and get players where they need to be.”