By Matt Sugam
With head coach Mike Rice suspended for three games, associate head coach David Cox had a simple message as he takes the helm for the next two weeks.
“We’re going to move forward. As a team this is a time for us to come together,” Cox said in a conference call with reporters. “Mike Rice is the reason many of us are here obviously, including myself, so we support him 1,000 percent. He has apologized. He will make a mends and he will learn from this and as a team we will move forward and get prepared for our game on Sunday vs. UAB.”
And they’ll do so with Cox as the head coach. Something he has never done at the college level.
“I’ve been around this game for over 30 years now. I’ve been a coach for 16 years. I’ve been in the Big East [for seven years],” Cox said, adding, “I’m confident in my abilities and who I am. I’m just going to be who I am.”
Which is someone a bit different from Rice. Cox – who said he didn’t see any infractions from Rice – has been one of the calming influences to players the counter Rice’s fiery side.
Despite his temporary promotion, Cox won’t be changing his style or that of Rutgers basketball.
“We’re two different people, so our styles will be different,” Cox said. “But the formula will be the same.”
Which has led Rutgers to a 6-2 start as Rice tries to revive a downtrodden program that hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 1991.
While the public focus will be on Rice and his suspension, Cox trying to keep his team focused on the task at hand. Which would be their game Sunday at the RAC against UAB.
“We’re 6-2. We’re moving this program forward. We have a huge game on Sunday and I think the main focus right now is that game on Sunday,” Cox said. “And it’s important for different reasons. It’s important because we want to continue to win and move forward as a program, but it’s also very important that we represent the university in a matter that which to be proud of.”