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Mike Rice lands job

Written by Craig Meyer on .

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(Photo: AP)

About seven months after being fired at Rutgers, former Robert Morris coach Mike Rice has found employment, as he is listed as the director of facilities and program services for the Hoop Group, a company which organizes youth basketball camps, high school exposure camps and grassroots tournaments.

The hiring presents something of a bookend for Rice's well-documented, self-induced saga that saw him lose his job as the Scarlet Knights' head coach after video surfaced of him verbally and physically abusing players.

In an interview with SNY's Adam Zagoria, Hoop Group president Rob Kennedy said Rice will both work with kids and perform certain administrative duties as he works his way back up the proverbial ladder:

"Mike has acknowledged his mistakes and worked hard to make positive changes," Kennedy said. "He has more passion and love of the game than any coach I have ever been around. I'm happy Mike is able to share that energy with our Hoop Group participants."

Though his actions at Rutgers were not found to be emblematic of his behavior while at Robert Morris, a former player told the Post-Gazette last April that Rice used homophobic slurs against players, a claim which was later confirmed by an internal university investigation.

Rice went 73-31 in his three years in Moon Township, taking the Colonials to the NCAA tournament twice. However, he struggled at Rutgers, well before the controversy came to light, going 44-51 and never leading the program past 11th place in the Big East.

An interesting angle to the story is the continued ties the Robert Morris program has to the Hoop Group. Andy Toole worked for it for a couple of years after college and assistant coach Joe Gallo is also a former employee. Rice was previously associated with the Neptune, N.J.-based group, serving as the director of its Eastern Invitational Basketball Camp from 2001 to 2004.

Craig Meyer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG

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Big Ben trade rumor mill!

Written by Dan Gigler on .

The "latest" on the Steelers plans to unload their all-everything quarterback ... another great parody from Benstonium ... 

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Confirmed: Patterson, not Luck, selected as next Texas AD

Written by Stephen J. Nesbitt on .

Arizona State athletic director Steve Patterson has been selected over West Virginia's Oliver Luck to be named the next athletic director at Texas, according to a statement by Texas president Bill Powers.

“Steve Patterson emerged as the perfect candidate to build on Texas’ athletic success and DeLoss Dodds’ legacy," Powers said.

This brings to a close a month-long saga in which Luck was considered the front runner to succeed Dodds at Texas, with sources telling the Dallas Morning News that Luck was priority "1 and 1A" last week. Rumors of Patterson's move were quashed last week when anonymous reports claimed Patterson had told Arizona State he had rejected Texas' offer.

Patterson, 55, will make $1.4 per year on a multi-year contract, according to Sports Illustrated, who first broke the hiring on Tuesday morning. Patterson's marketing and business experience put him ahead of Luck, whose ties to Texas included a career quarterbacking the Houston Oilers and a law degree from the University.

Luck still has yet to make comment on the situation, but it seems, for the time being, that he'll remain West Virginia's athletic director for the foreseeable future.


Stephen J. Nesbitt: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.

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Forward play adds another dimension to Engelland's game - 11-05-13

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

 

When the change was initially occurred, it raised a few eyebrows.

Deryk Engelland, a defenseman far more renown for his fighting abilities than any other hockey-related activity involving his hands, would be skating as a forward for a road game against the rival Flyers, Oct. 17.

Since that time, Engelland has done nothing but raise the level of his play as evidenced with several quality scoring chances, two fairly impressive goals and strong play in a key defensive situation late in a tight game against a Metropolitan Division foe.

The two plays which stand out the most are the goals. During the third period of a 4-3 home loss to the Islanders Oct. 25, Engelland scored a go-ahead goal on Islanders goaltender Evgeni Nabokov where he beat New York defenseman Matt Donovan and banged in a centering pass by center Joe Vitale.

Saturday, during a 3-0 road win against the Blue Jackets, Engelland took a pass once again from Vitale and stroked an impressive one-timer by Blue Jackets goaltender Curtis McElhinney from the bottom of the right circle for what proved to be the game-winning score.

Late in that game, with the Penguins defending a two-goal lead, Engelland was on the ice for defensive zone faceoff following an icing. Despite the Blue Jackets playing with an extra attacker with McElhinney pulled, Engelland pressured a point shot by Columbus defenseman James Wisniewski which sailed wide then stole a puck off defenseman Jack Johnson and backhand chopped it out of the defensive zone to allow his team a much needed change.

The process of having Engelland, a lifelong defenseman, adapt to forward wasn't as basic as simply giving him a colored forward jersey in practice and having him just play the position. He has spent time with assistant coach Tony Granato on the ice and in the video room. As head coach Dan Bylsma said, "The intelligence Deryk of which has tackled those situations whether it be practice and skill development in the video session, paying attention to what the forward or the winger is doing... he's been able to adapt to that, not only to be able to just do it, but to be pretty good at those situations."

Earlier today following a practice at Southpointe, Engelland talked about adapting to forward and what it could mean for his future.

What was the initial discussion with the coaching staff about you playing forward?

"There wasn’t a whole lot. They thought I could do a good job up there. The wanted to see what I could. I’m doing alright so far I guess."

How much work do you do with Granato one-on-one to get more acclimated to the position? Are there drills in practice or video work?

"Not too much [video]. Something like the wall play and stuff I’m not used to yet, Tony would do after practice the first few games especially. [Rim plays] and stuff that that [defensemen] aren’t used to doing. We do some drills when we do it in practice. Just trying to get that skill into your game is a little different in a real game than in practice."

What's the most basic difference between being a forward and a defenseman?

"There’s obviously more skating up and down the ice. As a [defenseman], it’s more battling down low. That’s a big difference. And probably just [defensive] zone coverage. Instead of being five feet from the net, you’re 50 feet from the net. Getting in a shot lane is a lot different from up there than in front of the net. Wall play is a lot different looking into the corner and not up ice like a [defenseman]. That’s probably been the biggest challenge."

Is the biggest bonus to being a forward more scoring opportunities?

"Obviously, anytime you score, it’s a bonus, especially for me. It’s been fun. You’ve got to get in on the forecheck and try to create havoc. Run some guys a little bit instead of guys running you. That would be another good part of it."

You played forward for a few games with the ECHL's Las Vegas Wranglers previously in you professional career. How extensive was that?

"It was …. I want to say … a few games. Two or three or four games. I don’t even remember. It’s been 10 years ago. It’s been a while. We were really short on guys. Me and my [defensive] partner were on a line together. It was a short situation."

In a perfect world, are you always a defenseman?

"Oh for sure. I’ve been a [defenseman] my whole life. I want to continue that. But right now, if I can get in [the lineup] and contribute as a forward, that’s what I’ve got to do. It’s better than not playing at all. It adds a different dimension to my game."

How do you think your toughness plays a factor in the coaches wanting to keep you in the lineup?

"That definitely obviously an element of my game that’s a big part of my game. I’ve got to be out there to stick up for teammate. I’m not going out there to fight just to fight. But if there’s a situation that calls on me to do something, that’s what I’m here for. I want to protect my teammates and do what it takes to win."

You're scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after this season. Does playing forward add anything to your value as a player?

"Like I said, it adds another dimension to my game. I haven’t really thought that far ahead. I don’t know if it will hurt me or benefit me. Right now, I’m just taking it day by day and seeing what it will be the next day."

Joe Vitale has had the primary assist on both of your goals this season. How key has he been to your success thus far?

"He’s playing really well. He’s using his speed and his ability to make the pass. The first one is basically a tap-in. The second one, it was a great play by him and [forward Dustin Jeffrey]. He passed it on the tape and I just kind of fired it. He’s playing great and he’s been a big part of those goals."

Do you owe Vitale a dinner for each of those goals?

"I got him an assist. Maybe he owes me a dinner. We’ll discuss that at later terms."

(Photo: Scott Iskowitz/Getty Images)

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Holgorsen presser: Texas prep, Carswell, Rigg out

Written by Stephen J. Nesbitt on .

 

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen joined the media for his weekly Tuesday afternoon press conference.

Here are the news and notes from that conversation:

• Next up: Texas. Excited for a night game and the atmosphere that will come with it. Not going to need to motivate the players this week. “They’re coming in on a roll, they’ve won the last five.” Doesn’t all the way back to struggled at the beginning of the season to gauge improvement, looks back to the most recent game and works backward from there.

• Texas offense: “They’ve kind of settled into who they are.” The most physical team WVU will have faced thus far. Settled on Case McCoy at QB with David Ash injured. They have three RBs that can all carry the load, led by Jonathan Gray. Studied their offense a week ago in preparation for TCU’s defense, saw them develop the run and then took shots downfield, each time to a new WR -- all capable.

• Texas defense: With DC Greg Robinson in control now they haven’t changed their scheme. Mainly the same guys WVU saw a year ago. “They’re fast, they can cover, they’re talented, they run well and rush the QB well.” Playing harder, more physical, more effort right now.

• Both teams will be focused on establishing the line of scrimmage and developing an early running game. The issue last year was that WVU couldn’t run the ball. But that was what worked against Texas a year ago. Couldn’t run the ball a week later at Texas Tech with Andrew Buie banged up.

Mark Glowinski and Quinton Spain were the offensive champions of the week for winning the battle up front. Thought WVU really owned the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, too, which hasn’t really happened in recent years . “It needs to happen for us to win.”

Charles Sims as a mentor: RB Wendell Smallwood does everything Sims does. Sims isn’t a talker, but his approach in the locker room, weight room and on the field is noticed and emulated by players on both sides of the ball.

WR Ronald Carswell is suspended indefinitely for “a violation of team rules.” “We’ll revisit that at the end of the season.

• Injury report: LB Doug Rigg was in “la la land” during his few snaps last week and is “probably done” for the season with side effects of the two concussions he had this season.

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