Rice Strives for Strong Offseason

In part two of ScarletReport.com's interview with Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice, the third-year head man breaks down the offseason changes within his program. Discussing departures, additions and NCAA rule changes, Rice explained why he feels great heading into the 2012-13 season.

Changes in offseason workout rules for NCAA basketball teams have allowed Mike Rice to be more involved in preparing Rutgers for the upcoming season.

Under new rules, Rice can work with his team for two hours per day and eight per week. Last year, Rice had to be hands off during any optional offseason workouts.

"There is more intensity than any summer I've ever been a college coach to be honest with you," Rice said. "College recruiting intensity in July and closing in on some of the recruits, but the level of energy at these workouts, watching them, it's different. There is a lot more focus that you need to have. Summer time is important."

Perhaps the biggest advantage with the new rules comes in assimilation of newer players. Instead of informal, voluntary workouts with the freshmen last year, newcomer Vincent Garrett gets eight hours per week with Rice.

"In the few workouts that we've had [since he came], I can see the full squad now," Rice said. "It's exciting because you see a lot of potential with a lot of athleticism that we have. And you see depth. That can get very exciting. I'm pleased with those things."

Garrett and walk-on Logan Kelley are the only additions this season for workouts after seven came in for the 2011-12 season.

With six freshmen and Kansas State transfer Wally Judge all ne to the program last season, having a year of experience for the group is crucial moving forward.

"I really didn't understand that until I went through it last year," Rice said. "I don't care how many times I tried to tell them they needed to lift more or focus on details, be better. All of the things they needed to know, now they know. Now it's on us.

"They have the experience. They have the playing time under their belts. They know what is needed to play in the Big East. They had the success to be honest. Each and every one of them, at some point in time, had success. There's a confidence, but there's also an eagerness to get back at it."

Rice adds Garret and Judge to the active roster this year, replacing spots left by forward Gilvydas Biruta and Austin Carroll. Biruta and Carroll both left the program at the end of the season.

"You never want to lose anybody, but it's the landscape of college basketball," Rice said. "Every program has it and so it's how you respond. I love the two individuals that we have coming in. They fill immediate roles in big parts of this team."

Rice is now focused on recruiting the Class of 2013. After going through Signing Day without a commitment last year, Rice is hard on the recruiting trail looking to add depth on all levels.

His message to the recruits is a simple one.

"I'm saying that this thing is going in the right direction," Rice said. "This is where we want to go as a program with some of the big steps we've had and wins over top-40 teams.

"Especially with this young team, it's not about one class. It's every class after that to take us to the next level. We're going to get to the grind and get better every single day and every single year. It takes talent, especially in this league. So it's about signing the individuals that are important to us."

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