By Matt Sugam
NEW YORK – While Rutgers had an opportunity to play in a postseason tournament for the first time since their NIT appearance in 2005-06, head coach Mike Rice turned it down. The reasoning for not accepting a bid to the CBI was simple.
“Mainly because of my two guards [Jerome Seagears and Myles Mack] and how they emptied their tank the last month and a half for our team,” Rice told SNY.tv after taking in the Georgetown-Syracuse game with Athletic Director Tim Pernetti and associate head coach David Cox. “They’re excited on where this program is going, but could really use some time off right now.”
Ever since leading scorer Eli Carter suffered a fractured fibula that sidelined him the remainder of the season, Seagears’ and Mack’s workload increased drastically. The two were playing 35 to 40 minutes a game on a nightly basis.
“We took kind of a pulse and you’ve got to be excited about playing in that tournament,” Rice said. “Right now the guys – especially my two guards played so many minutes down the end – just felt that their tank was on e.”
However, it wasn’t just the backcourt. Rice said Kadeem Jack has been dealing with a groin injury while Wally Judge has been playing with a lingering knee issue as first reported by SNY.tv.
“In the end, the guys who are going to be back and producing for us next year got a chance to play in a ton of games and a ton of minutes,” Rice said. “And that kind of weighed more on playing a couple more games.”
Instead, they’ll go home next week for spring break – and a much needed rest – before heading back to Piscataway.
“Right now they’re excited where the program is going and how they were playing, but they were ok passing on another opportunity,” Rice said. “Knowing that it was a good opportunity they were ok with it to let their bodies heel and get back to work in a couple weeks on individuals right after spring break.”