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Mike Rice Remains Classy About Refs Screw Up In Big East Tournament Loss To St. John's

In case you haven’t yet heard what happened during Wednesday night’s game between Rutgers and St. John’s familiarize yourself with the back story and watch the video footage to see what the fuss is all about. Now, Rutgers likely wasn’t going to make the NCAA Tournament unless they won the entire Big East Conference Tournament, which obviously would have been an extreme shock. Heck, Rutgers wasn’t even going to qualify for the NIT without beating St. John’s as well as Syracuse on Thursday. But that doesn’t diminish the anguish that head coach Mike Rice and the Rutgers squad must be feeling. Rice though to his immense credit, is taking the high road and not making a huge fuss about the disappointing lapse in judgment by the referees. Frustrated, yes. Petulant and outraged, no.

Rice joined Mike Francesca on WFAN in New York to talk about what happened, when he saw that the refs had screwed up, how under no circumstance did he expect his team to be allowed to replay the final moments of the game, and how he still believes that the conference’s officials are some of the best in the business. (Partial transcription via: SRI)

When did you become aware that [Justin] Brownlee did step out of bounds at the end of the game and there should have been time put back on the clock?

“Actually the SID [Rutgers Sports Information Director] has an iPhone. We watched it on YouTube. I mean again it clearly is a mistake. They clearly are some of the best, most veteran referees in the Big East [Jim Burr, Tim Higgins and Earl Walton]. Again, I tell my guys every day you can’t control what happens. You can control how you respond and I made a lot of mistakes today Mike. Hopefully they go back and review the procedures of that because it was very interesting if somebody could look with 1.8 seconds and we get the ball with a chance.”

Did any of the calls the referees may have missed in your opinion there in the last minute specifically outrage you?

“Yes and no. Mike, it’s a judgement call. Every time they blow the whistle and show. Every coach wants it to go their way, so yeah I thought maybe there was a couple of times where Mike, especially on the last play where he drove, but again that’s a judgement call. These [officials] are the best we have. Those veterans guys that we have, so I have to believe they made the right calls. I haven’t gone back to it, but again I’m confident these guys are the best referees in the country.”

You don’t expect under any circumstance expect the Big East committee will give your team a chance to replay the last 1.6 seconds remaining?

“I under no circumstances do I think that the Big East will let us go back on the floor with 1.7 seconds.”

Stay tuned here throughout the rest of the week and weekend for more updates about the ongoing Big East Conference Tournament.