Hoops: Rice Gets Look at 2011-12 Knights

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- The NCAA allows limited workouts for coaches and players once classes begin, and that means Rutgers second-year basketball coach Mike Rice has had three weeks to get a sense of what the 2011-12 Scarlet Knights will look like. He went 1-on-1 with ScarletReport.com, and gave his thoughts on what he has seen from many of the players.

formal practice doesn't arrive for another three weeks.

However, second-year Rutgers coach Mike Rice already is getting a taste of what is to come during NCAA-approved limited workouts, which schools can begin the first day of classes.

It means Rice has seen his stellar freshman class, a way limited in time and what can be practiced, for three weeks.

"I see potential, and I certainly see bigger, more athletic, deeper team than we had at Rutgers last year," Rice said. "I also see a very young, inconsistent group as well. There could be so many pieces that I have at my disposal. Drill-by-drill you shake your head at some of the talent they have, some of the potential they have."

NCAA rules keep teams from running full practices before the mid-October start date, but Rice is able to get a feel for the talent level of many of his players, both returners and newcomers.

"Whether it was Myles Mack's uncanny ability to finish in traffic or play with such poise," Rice said, "Jerome Seagears' athleticism, Elijah Carter's explosiveness, and ability to score and make tough shots, each and every day somebody brings something that you get excited about the future."

Rice also raved about the development of returning players Dane Miller, Mike Poole, Gilvydas Biruta, who played for his native Lithuania during the summer, and Austin Johnson.

"I love the way Dane Miller and Mike Poole have taken a more vocal leadership role," Rice said. "Gilvydas has come back from overseas as the same Gilvydas, playing as hard as he can every possession, but seems a bit more comfortable on the perimeter and is shooting the ball better."

Rice added Miller's offensive game has developed nicely.

"I think he's improved his offensive package, a little bit of everything," Rice said. "Coaches always want more, but he's improved, and that's a good thing. I see more confidence in him. I hope his decision-making is improved because we haven't gotten into a real practice yet, but I think his jumper and his understanding of what I'm asking has certainly gotten better."

Rice gave his thoughts on a few other players are seeing them the last few weeks.

On Kansas State transfer Wally Judge : "You know why he was a McDonald's All-American. Just the physical tools that he brings every day after probably something I haven't had since I coached Sam Young (as an assistant) at Pitt. He just runs, jumps, lifts weights different than the rest of the team right now. If he can become consistent and work on his skills, he has a chance of being pretty good here."

On Kadeem Jack: "He's still learning and has his days. We haven't done many things up-and-down, but he tends to stand out when we're running and it's a free-flowing game. You give him space and he's going to be difficult to handle."

On Johnson: "I just hope his confidence is there game-in and game-out. I think he's someone we can throw the ball and he can do some things in the post for us. He's older. He's a junior now. Nobody in the Big East is going to be stronger than him. He's an ox. It's confidence."

On Poole: "Poole is probably our hardest working player. Wally, Kadeem and (Poole) are probably the three guys that spend more time in the gym than anybody on our team. Mike has certainly not only done it on the court, improving his ball-handling, but he's put on 10 to 12 pounds of muscle, which he desperately needed."


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