Collegehoops.net's Jon Teitel is in Philadelphia all week bringing you live coverage and interviews from one of the opening weekend's most intriguing venues.
NCAA Tournament Q&A
Coach Mike Rice, Robert Morris
Q: How do you feel about facing Michigan State?
A: I feel lousy about the match-up, as they are 1 of the most prepared and balanced teams in the country. They are hard to prepare for due to their size and strength, and they are tough for anybody.
Q: What did you learn from Jamie Dixon as his assistant during the run to the 2007 Sweet 16 at Pitt?
A: 3 things: defend, rebound, and take care of the ball. You have to be consistent with what got you there, so we will just break it down into 4-minute segments.
Q: What did you learn from Phil Martelli as his assistant during the run to the 2005 NIT Final at St. Joe’s (his son Jimmy is 1 of Rice’s assistants)?
A: Working with Phil is like getting a coaching clinic every day, as he taught me how to prepare my players for the game. He is 1 of the best at looking at film and putting a game plan together.
Q: What is different from last year (1st NIT berth in school history) to now (1st NCAA tourney in 17 years)?
A: The difference from last year to this year is balance. Last year we were more of a perimeter scoring team, but we are more defense-oriented this year, so we could win games in the NEC even on a bad offensive night.
Q: What did you learn from your non-conference schedule (losing to Pitt and Xavier by 20+ points each)?
A: You have to learn from your past experiences, and we played well at certain times during those games, but you can’t make mistakes against great teams.
Q: Will your team have to lean on Jeremy Chappell (conference POY) to play like Stephen Curry did in last year’s NCAA tourney, or will it take a total team effort?
A: Either/or is fine with me. We do have some balance with guys who can put ball in hole, but Chappell is our #1 and #2 option.
Q: How did you win the conference tourney final on your home court?
A: The play was designed for Chappell, who dribbled the ball off his knee to our super screener (Dallas Green, aka the “Screen Machine”) who made the game-winning jump shot. When Dallas shoots the ball I usually yell, “there’s a reason why you’re open,” but now he is a folk-hero on campus.
Q: What did you learn from your dad Mike Rice, Sr. (former college coach and current TV color commentator for the Portland Trail Blazers)?
A: My dad taught me about the passion to play/coach/teach the game. I was raised while following him around from gym to gym, so I have always been around basketball.
Q: How does assistant coach Andy Toole (Penn alum) help you win?
A: Andy has brought a knowledge and teaching ability well beyond his years for someone that young. Playing at Penn under Fran Dunphy and having lots of success helps. He knows how to teach the right way, and had a great mentor in Fran.
Q: Will you do anything special for Rob Robinson (born on 3/19)?
A: I didn’t even know that until now, so we will just try to do something to embarrass him like we always do.
Tournament Talk Q&A's