Q&A with Basketball Coach Mike Rice

Rutgers is nearly 24 hours way from tipping off its 2011-12 basketball campaign. To get ready for tomorrow's game, ScarletReport.com went 1-on-1 with head coach Mike Rice this morning to discuss last minute preparations for Dartmouth to open the season, Dane Miller and the starting rotation.

ScarletReport.com: Mike, have the practices this week been what you would hope for in the final days before the start of the season?

Mike Rice: Would I like them better, of course? But for the most part, they understand what they're about to get into with the season right around the corner. They've been focused.

SR: Do you feel you've done a good job preparing such a young team for what they're about to go through?

MR: I think that's one of the biggest responsibilities that I have. … What I tell them every day is they have no idea what it takes to win a Division I basketball game. I say that every day to these guys, so I think they understand the beginnings of that. They're beginning to understand that.

SR: How has Dane Miller responded to his suspension from Sunday's exhibition?

MR: He's great. Not just good, his energy level has been great. Dane's problem has always been consistency with that injury. I would say he is, at times, selfish with his energy because he can dominate practice every day with his energy and his athleticism and he doesn't do it daily. Since our scrimmage, whether it was an awakening experience or whatever it may be, he's definitely more locked in.

SR: What stands out to you about Dartmouth when you watch last year's film?

MR: They're very well coached. Like I am here at Rutgers, they're building and developing young talent. … [Coach Paul Cormier ] is a terrific coach. He'll do some things to try and confuse us at times. We have to play very instinctive on Friday night and trust those instincts.

SR: How does the return of Dane Miller change your starting lineup? (Rice started Elijah Carter, Myles Mack, Jerome Seagears, Austin Johnson and Gilvydas Biruta in the exhibition)

MR: I have my starting lineup, but more for this year because our players are young, I can foresee myself changing the lineups more than I ever have as a head coach. I'd really like to kind of get players in their roles and keep them in their roles. But this year, I can see myself changing depending on the consistency in which our guys are making decisions and playing. We'll have our starting lineup and it could change game by game.

SR: Do you personally feel ready for tomorrow? What's your excitement level?

MR: This what we do. You get to do it 31 times a year. I'd love to have, and I think every coach would love to have more practices and more preparation time. It's upon us and I'm always very excited to represent Rutgers and shoe people what we have.

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