It also came in a package that inspired loyalty and respect, which made Rice’s dismissal from Rutgers on Wednesday for physically and verbally abusing his players all the more stunning for the people that knew him long before the video surfaced of Rice manically flinging basketballs at his Scarlet Knights.
The same coach seen yelling anti-gay slurs at his players at Rutgers is the same one who convinced highly-touted point guard Tray Woodall to leave Brooklyn to go play for the Panthers. Woodall, a senior, took to his Twitter account to defend his mentor.
Perhaps, but now he’s out of a job.
A star on the rise three years ago after leading Robert Morris to consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, Rice now finds himself a flashpoint for what is _ and what is not _ considered appropriate coaching behavior.
The drive to succeed that made Rice such a success at Robert Morris _ a Northeastern Conference school in Pittsburgh’s western suburbs _ wasn’t part of a switch that Rice flipped on whenever he entered a huddle. It was always on, regardless of the situation.
Rice once knocked out one of his father’s teeth while they were playing against each other. Former assistant coach Andy Toole, now the head coach at Robert Morris, once called Rice “crazed” by the game.
Born in Pittsburgh, Rice spent his childhood by his father’s side, learning the Xs and Os while serving as a ballboy and engaging in lengthy debate over the dinner table. While in middle school, he once stood up in the middle of the Duquesne locker room and told the Dukes they weren’t playing hard enough. The players taped him to a training table as a way of thanking him for the pep talk.
The passion that bubbled over into fury wasn’t around _ for the most part _ during his days with the Colonials. Rice took over the program in 2007 and took Robert Morris to the NCAA tournament in 2009 and 2010.