Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
In First Game Back on the Sidelines, Mike Rice is Victorious With The Patrick School
FORT MYERS, Fla. –– “Stanford! Stanford,” screamed Mike Rice as soon as The Patrick School won the opening tip in their season-opener at the 43rd annual City of Palms tournament.
The former Rutgers coach never let up in a tight contest against Miami (Fla.) Norland and in his first game as the interim head coach, Rice led The Patrick School to a 54-45 victory.
“I was very excited,” said Rice. “It was like starting over again. I have a team that kind of fits my personality. Really love working. The urgency, the tenacity, the passion. They play very hard and they practice very hard. I knew we had tremendous preparation. It feels good to get that first one out of the way that’s for sure.”
Rice was last seen coaching Rutgers in the 2012-13 season before he was fired in April 2013 when a videotape surfaced showing him hurling physical and verbal abuse at his players, behavior that ultimately saw Rice shunned nationally and mocked by Melissa McCarthy on “Saturday Night Live.”
“What’s the sign of a bad player,” asked Rice. “It’s when you do something wrong twice. It goes for the team. It goes to the coach. It goes to everybody in life. Try not to make the same mistake. Try to improve and learn from those mistakes and that’s the sign of someone who is developing and learning and its never too late to do that.”
It wasn’t a pretty opener, but it was eerily similar to numerous Big East slugfests that Rice used to participate in. It took 2 minutes and 14 seconds for Rhode Island-bound forward Cyril Langevine to score the first points for The Patrick School and the game was tied at just six a piece after one quarter.
“Chris (Chris Chavannes) and I had talked a lot about such a late start in New Jersey,” said Rice, who, earlier this month was named the interim head coach through December, as first reported by SNY.tv..
“This team played 12 or 13 games already. You knew this was going to take place. They wanted to do so much every time they got the ball, you know, they forced us. As soon as they missed a free throw or a shot or two they put pressure on themselves and never let anything come anything early. What they did was defended.”
Nick Richards, a 6-foot-11 junior with offers from Kentucky, UCLA, Arizona and Syracuse, among others, didn’t make the trip with The Patrick School after suffering a concussion during a scrimmage. He is expected back for Slam Dunk to the Beach Dec. 27-29 in Delaware.
Behind the guard play of Jordan Walker and the Harvard-bound Bryce Aiken who combined for 25 points, the Celtics opened up a lead in the second half and used their trademark physical defense to slow down Norland and their star power forward Dewan Huell. The Miami commit didn’t score in the first half and finished with only five points in the game.
“Great team defense,” said Rice. “He’s a young LaMarcus Aldridge. I really love his game. I’ve seen him on the AAU circuit, seen him at different camps, and he kept me up last night. Fatir Hines, a North Jersey kid who doesn’t have many Division 1 scholarship offers just took it upon himself to make it hard. Make it difficult. We did a tremendous job on him.”
Throughout the game, Rice was constantly pacing the sideline and yelling out offensive sets and various defensive plays to the Celtics. When players screwed up their assignment, Rice was quick to scream. Instead of getting on the player about the mistake, Rice was instead yelling words of encouragement or a slap on the butt.
“You don’t know what you miss until its taken away,” noted Rice. “I have a great group of young men. Really proud to be back.”
The Patrick School advances to the semifinals of the City of Palms on Tuesday evening. A win in the semis could possibly set up a championship showdown with Montverde Academy who is undefeated and led by former St. Patrick’s coach Kevin Boyle, who was in attendance.
“Kevin and I go way back and consider him a good friend and tremendous coach and he’s built another dynasty down here at Montverde.”
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.