More with Phil Martelli on Mike Rice
I caught up with Martelli today to write this story, but initially had to leave out some of Martelli's comments. Here, then, is the full transcript of our chat:
Q: Initial thoughts when you saw Mike was hired?
A: Here's what I always viewed Mike as: I always viewed him as a basketball coach. He's a basketball coach 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. He has a passion for teaching teaching the game. He will not be out-worked in preparation in recruiting, in promoting his program.
Q. Mike was a candidate for the Fordham and Seton Hall jobs at Rutgers. Were you surprised at all with where he eventually landed.
A: If someone told me he would be the coach at FDU, it wouldn't surprise me. If they told me he was going to be the coach at Trenton Catholic, it wouldn't surprise me. It wouldn't surprise me if you had told me he's going to be in the Big East. He won't take a backseat to anyone.
Q: What were you thinking when you watched the Robert Morris-Villanova game in the NCAA tournament?
A: Here's what I said to Mike afterward and I've repeated to him several times: All the credit in the world goes to Mike and his staff because they had a 15 seed believe they were the better team that day, and not just because they were ahead. When that day started, because of Mike's preparation, they knew they could win. When some of those 15 and 16 seeds play, the game is over before the ball goes up, but not them."
Q: How has your relationship with Mike been over the years?
A: Mike is a very, very very loyal guy, so during the season I would speak to him at least once a week and during this offseason, during these searches, I would talk to him almost every other day just as a friend. The story I'll always tell is that when Mike came to work with me, Mike and his family hadn't relocated yet, so Mike lived with me for several months. Then when he hired my son Jimmy to be his assistant, he insisted that Jimmy live with him and Kerry. That's the kind of guy he is.
Q: He's obviously going to have no shortage of setbacks at Rutgers. Do you get the sense that he has the kind of mindset to handle some adversity?
A: There's no doubt in my mind that Mike is going in with his eyes wide open. What he's going to do is energize his team, energize the recruiting base and energize those fans, because they're passionate fans and there's no waiting around. He's not going to jump through a window if things don't go well in the beginning. They have building to do, but they have to do it on the court, in the community, in recruiting circles. Mike's going to give every ounce of his energy. That's the beauty of Mike Rice."
Q: He's played and coached at Fordham and worked on your staff at Saint Joe's. Do you think that gives him enough knowledge of the New York, New Jersey and Philly recruiting bases?
A. He's fully entrenched. I could never give him the title of Philly guy because he's a big Steelers fan and he never really got into the Phillies. But if you want to know where the bodies are buried in New York, New Jersey, Philly and Baltimore, Mike knows all the bodies and he's got the right touch.
Q: Anything people should know about him that they might not?
A: He's just really good people. I'll give you an example: People talk about being a basketball coach. Mike, in the offseason the last three years, has coached his son's 10-and-under and 12-and-under AAU teams. For a lot of us, we're exhausted at the end of the year. Not Mike. He's just a basketball coach. He's going into the gym with 9- and 10-year-olds."