Monday, March 09, 2009

How will the Tyrese Rice story end?

Tyrese Rice made the ACC's second team. Congratulations to him. But what are we, the close observers, to make of it? He was first team ACC last year. Did he take a step back? Did he have to subjugate himself in order for the team to advance? Rice proclaimed that he returned for his final season at BC to go out a winner. Mission accomplished. Picked to finish 11th, BC proved the media and the league wrong and couldn't have been as good without their senior leader and leading scorer. Yet there is still an emptiness. Something about it all feels hollow and I think it's about Rice.

I've loved this season. The North Carolina and Duke games will be ones we remember for years. Watching Sanders, Jackson and Trapani all emerge and take over games has been rejuvenating. Their futures are bright and we get to witness it all for the next few seasons. Sanders sinking his shot against Georgia Tech was just the beginning. But (and indulge me for a minute) that moment showed how much Rice has been detached from this excitement, the young players' growth and the success of this season. Skinner didn't put the ball in Rice's hands. Sanders didn't look to give it back to Rice and then he, not Tyrese, made the clutch shot. Rice was just an observer. A decoy.

Tyrese Rice is a great basketball player. Rice is the best shooter on the team. He's one of the most natural scorers in college basketball. Put him on a midmajor and he'd be a media darling and averaging 30 a game. He's got a very high basketball IQ and has made smart plays from the minute he stepped on campus. And to top off the package, the strong little bull is left handed. Just one more thing to keep defenders off balance. His fearlessness provided countless highlights. Think back to the 2007 ACC Tourney...Rice kept BC in the Miami game singlehandedly. Last year he nearly went for 50 against top ranked North Carolina. Where were those moments this year? Never as emotional or gregarious as some past BC stars, Rice seemed bored and unsure of himself at times this year.

Now, with his BC career coming to an end, Rice has a chance to write the ending to his story. He is capable of leading this team deep this week in Atlanta and next week in the Big Dance. He needs to play smart. He needs to strike the right balance between making his teammates better and asserting himself. He needs to be the man and player we know he can be. Earlier this year BC basketball historian Bob Ryan hinted that Rice could be the best guard to come through the Heights. Right now, in my opinion, he's not even in the discussion. But...and it's a big but...Rice can vault up the list with his play this month. I don't know Rice. The people around him all seem nice and those around BC speak highly of him. He can be more than he's been. Let's hope for him and for BC, that we are about to see something special.


blockparty said...

it is interesting that on tyrese's senior night, his last game at conte, al gives the ball to the a sophomore rather than to the 1,000 point scorer/captain/all-acc point guard. i dont know what it shows, but it shows something.

Nick said...

Good post, ATL. Lot to digest there.

Looking at the numbers, I don't think Tyrese necessarily "regressed" from last year. He had 3.6 less points per game with 102 fewer shots. There was nobody on the 07-08 team, so Tyrese was comfortable being the team. I think his drop from 1st Team ACC to 2nd Team was about 20% actual performance and 80% the quality of the rest of the ACC. Jeff Teague was the front-runner for ACC POY for the first half of ACC play, and he didn't even make the first team. The league was astoundingly deep this year, and the 2nd team would probably beat the first team four or five times out of ten.

Where I think Tyrese has issues is in leadership. I don't think he was comfortable watching Trapani or Sanders be as crucial to the team as he was. It seems he can't accept when Trapani or Sanders are the team's go-to guy for a given game - when this happens, shots are rushed and passes are forced. He is a lot more selfish than stars of BC's past in that way. There was a particular play in the Duke game - where Southern fed Trapani a loud alley-oop, and Trap, filled with emotion, yelled excitedly in Ty's face to absolutely ZERO reaction from Rice. I thought that was telling. You only saw Rice pumped for Sanders Saturday because his senior day wasn't ruined.

With that said, I don't think we should look too much in to Saturday's game as a barometer for how Skinner looks at him. I think it was a combination of Rice having an off-shooting day and Skinner knowing that Tech would be focused on Rice (as Paul Hewitt confirmed after the game). But let's not forget - He put up 25 and 8 in Carolina, and hit massive, clutch threes in the final two minutes against both Duke and Florida State.

Is he the best guard to come through BC? No. I'd rather have Troy Bell for pretty much every facet of being a point guard except driving to the hoop. But to say he's not in the discussion is, I think, focusing on our frustrations with him this year and losing track of the bigger picture.

Walter said...

I agree, great post.

I'm a junior and I've always had mixed feelings on Tyrese. My freshman year, I loved -still do- Jared Dudley because he had just as much skill as Rice, but he also more importantly had that intangible great spirit, really nice guy aspect. I don't get that from Rice.

He's always had more of a swagger and cool guy mentality than anyone else on the team, and it's worked for him, but at the same time, I've never really felt much from him in terms of connecting with the students and fans.

I agree with Paulus that his most glaring problems lay in his leadership abilities and that he didn't necessarily regress even though his overall production was down. It has turned out to be a great thing, hasn't it? It's nice to know that next year doesn't have to be a rebuilding year.

All that said, I love Rice and will miss him when he's gone. It's just that I don't think he would say the same about leaving us.

Claver2010 said...

Great post ATL, this has been a debate on the message boards for a while. I don't think I can remember such a prominent BC athlete under such a microscope.

Let me start by saying, Tyrese has the ability to write his own history over the next couple of weeks. Make a run in the ACC and NCAA and the view on him will change.

I am solely going to analyze this year's performance because last year there was no one. Early in the season I said that this team will be better next year without him. He is a great shooter but inside the "system" he really doesn't fit. He's a run and gun undersized 2, where I personally think this team has played the best is when he is taken off the ball and doesn't have to worry about getting others involved because he clearly cares about it seeing as he consistently lays 0-5 points in the first half. Personally, I think we have seen too many of those 16 points on 3-11 shooting 4 assists 4 turnover stat lines. As we saw last year, the man has the ability to take over games, but has he taken over one this entire year? I can't remember one time.

I think his reputation has taken a hit this year amongst BC fans. Again, good debate ATL.

Erik said...

Okay, I gotta chime in. Rice not getting the ball on Saturday isn't necessarily do to his place on the team or the type of season he has had. I was there, anyone who watched can attest, Rice was not "on" this past Saturday. I haven't checked the stats, but I think he had 17, and it was one 3, one 2, and 12 free throws. His shot just wasn't falling, so on another more normal night, Tyrese probably gets the shot.

I was the one who was mad at calling the Timeout with 7 seconds left when T.R. already had the ball (since we stink at inbounds plays), but once we did call it, I was telling my girlfriend how we needed to get it to Sanders who was much hotter than Rice was. You could tell inside Conte that Rakim had it that day, and Rice was a little out of it.

So if the situation comes up again in the next few weeks, Tyrese very well may get the call.

That's my take, fellas. Let's go win some games, regardless of who scores! Go Eagles.

Erik said...

"due" not "do"
(can't figure out the edit)

Lally said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lally said...

I know Skinner is 'putting the ball in the hands of his best player,' but I've always felt this year that we could get Tyrese the ball in better shooting situations if he played off the ball more. I think if we had played a Biko/Rice or even a Jackson/Rice backcourt more often, it would've been to our benefit.

Either way, you thank a player that scores 2,000 points for your team when he reaches the end of his career. Thanks and good luck, Tyrese, and if you could see fit to go out the way Gerry McNamara did this weekend, we'd appreciate it.

smh said...

ATL, your post and the comments that follow contain way too much blind speculation that is completely unfair to Skinner and Tyrese.

Did you listed to Skinner's teleconference on Monday when he addressed this topic at length? It may be useful for you to check that out and then maybe revisit this post.

For your convenience, here it is:

Hopefully it changes your and others perspective on the tremendous contributions and sacrifices Rice has made during his time here at BC.

smh said...

"It seems he can't accept when Trapani or Sanders are the team's go-to guy for a given game - when this happens, shots are rushed and passes are forced."

This is probably the most uninformed and ridiculous statement I have read regarding anything in a long time.

What got BC 9 conference wins this year was largely do to the fact that Rice CAN accept when Trap and Sanders are the go-to guys.

Rese could have gotten first team ACC this year according to Skinner (if his opinion matters to you, I am not sure). But if we played the way that would have gotten Rese on the first team, our team would have struggled in other areas.

BCMike said...

Rice goes down as an all-time great to me.

I can tell you that without equivocation, I have received more compliments on Rice's play for BC than any other guy we ever had...Troy Bell probably second. Opposing fans understood how amazing Rice is/was. When you have UNC fans and Duke fans saying "Geez, I wish we had THAT guy" you know you have something special.

On another note, if you needed any more reason to believe that Reggie Jackson is the next great Eagle...follow the jersey numbers

0 - Reggie Jackson
1 - Craig Smith
2 - Troy Bell
3 - Jared Dudley
4 - Tyrese Rice

While I think Biko Paris (he wears #5) is progressing and will be a good player for us in the next two years to come, I'm pretty sure he won't be keeping company with the rest of those guys. Jackson, though...I could see eventually be talked about in the same breath if he keep progressing and stays healthy.

CT said...

I think in some ways that the team's inconsistency was a reflection of Rice's inconsistency. By that I mean, there were times when Rice sacrificed his own game (many times in the first half) to get other guys involved, and then would make a more determined effort to score in the second half. Other times, Rice would come out shooting.

I don't have many complaints at all about Rice b/c of everything he's meant to the program. Maybe he stuck around b/c he likes the team and BC, maybe it was b/c he wasn't going to get drafted. Either way, he's largely responsible for getting BC mentioned in any national discussion and he's hit a few clutch shots along the way.

I'm not so sure this particular team knew how to use Rice and he them. Sometimes he deferred and played a more traditional point position, sometimes he was the primary scorer at 2.
There seemed to be little method to the madness, which, I think, contributed to the team's inconsistent performance this year. That coupled with the relative youth on the team.

I'm happy Rice gets one more shot at the NCAAs. He deserves it. I've been mildly critical of him during those stretches when he seemed "out of it," b/c, it appeared to me, that sometimes he didn't understand the difference b/t his varied roles on the team. Maybe that's not entirely his fault.

In any event, congratulations again to Rice. Whatever happens from here on out...all the best to a deserving young man.

Nick said..., sorry, Pete. Take it easy.

I didn't mean the man isn't happy for his teammates - that would imply that he's a bad kid, and he's obviously not. What I meant was that I feel like sometimes he forces his shots and passes because he feels like, at the end of the day, this is his team and no one else's. Which, really, it is.

I've had season tickets for about 839928374 years, and I love Tyrese, so please don't misread me. BCMike, I think, made a great, and accurate, point about opponents' respect for him - no BC player EVER has had opponents' fans singing his praises more than Tyrese. I think there's something to that.

CT said...

There's little doubt that Bell was better than Rice.

Not by a lot, but certainly by enough.

I mean, Rice has carried the team for stretches...Bell pretty much carried it for four years.

Two time conference P.O.Y. (one of five in history to win multiple times).

All-time scoring leader at BC.

I think Bell is playing in Italy now. Could be seeing Rice pretty soon.

smh said...

"I've had season tickets for about 839928374 years."

It all makes sense now.

Nick said...

Yeah. That's a long time.

And by '839928374', I mean 'ten' or so.

GordonsLeftFoot said...

With 13.6 ppg and 6.5 rpg average, Trapani could have definitely been on the honorable mention squad. I can see him, Sanders and Jackson on the list next year.

Matt said...

Thanks Bill for opening up this topic. Have had many discussions about Tyrese's place in BC history, and how the team will fare without him next year.

He is one of the most creative and at times dynamic scorers I have seen here. I can't tell you how many times over the years we have watched him start to launch a 3 in an important spot and just knew it was going to drop. His seeming inconsistency was a bit of a trouble spot, but I think part of it is, as someone else mentioned, this system was never quite right for him. Look at the # of minutes he has had to play over the last 4 years, and then add in countless possessions where he is stuck dribbling at the top of the key for 25 seconds expending more energy...that takes a toll physically and mentally i think. part might be his fault, part is the system, but either way, not ideal for his game. I would have liked to see a lot more of Biko at the point and Tyrese off the ball more. Just watch some of the other great shooters in college bball like Steph Curry, coming off screens, being able to work for shots off the ball.

Hopefully he has a big March and gets remembered fondly for it. I don't think we will be better BECAUSE he is gone next year, but I am pretty optimistic about the team based on the improvement this year.

And Erik - great point about the timeout. When they called it I was frightened that we would screw something up inbounding the ball since we never seem to get that right.

Big Jack Krack said...

Here's the scene: 22,000 die hard Tar Heels fans at BC's first ever visit to the Dean Dome as an ACC member in late January 2006 (Wednesday night, 9:00pm game). I'm about 15 rows up at mid-court (one of my colleagues is a big UNC fan) and I'm wearing my maroon sweater. I stick out like a sore thumb. UNC leads by 9 early, but BC explodes for a 27-6 run to take the lead.

As the first half progresses along, the fans notice and appreciate BC's crisp passing (in the flex offense)and begin to wonder if this will be a close game all the way. After all, we have Craig Smith,, and Jared Dudley, and Luis Hinnant, and Sean Marshall and some kid named Tyrese Rice. With BC pulling away a bit as the clock winds down in the first half - Tyrese throws in a 30 ft. 3 pointer as the buzzer sounds ending the first half - putting BC in front by 12. The crowd groans in dismay etc.

Later in the second half, when we're getting exactly what we want from Craig Smith, Tyrese throws in another 3 pointer with 4 minutes to go to keep BC in command - and he finishes with 16 points in that atmosphere. We won 81-74 and I smiled at every Tar Heels fan I saw.

Freshman Tyrese Rice had ice water in his veins and every ACC fan has been scared to death of him ever since.

Thanks for the memories and a great 4 years, Tyrese - and you for sure made me happy in Chapel Hill your first year.

Have some fun and let's win some games in these tournaments - no pressure - cream and gravy.

Best of luck in the future, Tyrese.

Opinionater said...

Well spoken everyone. Many "points to ponder" about the performance of Tyrese Rice over his career. He will leave BC as one of the best impact players ever. I'm going back to the John Austin days (1964-ish)with Coach Bob Cousy. (That dates me doesn't it?!) Austin was a spectacular DC high school phenom who, came to BC and put them on the map. Very much like Tyrese, he could (and did) score at will. Tyrese has struggled this year, and it is a puzzle as to why? Adjusting to better talent around him? Senior "Leadership" too much of a burden and in conflict with his introspective demeanor? Concerned about his future? All these, collectively might be factors. One can only speculate---but he clearly has appeared "less-interested" than previous years.

As he closes out his career wearing the maroon and gold, I prefer to remember that first half performance (34? 36?) points against UNC---at home---to go up by about 18 at halftime (only to lose by 20--but I want to forget that---as the best individual offensive show I have ever witnessed in person! Tyrese's career should not be judged solely on this year's inconsistent play---but on the whole body of work, which puts him near the top of the list of All-time greats.

Lets hope that he finds the "spark" during this tournament run! Without him at his best we will likely have an early exit.

Go Eagles!

ORDEagle said...

Not to hijack this into a best BC guard thread, but while Tyrese was special as was Bell, I think I take John Bagley, Michael Adams or Dana Baros ahead of either of the other two. Bell and Rice are scorers. The other three were both scorers and true point guards.

If you think Bell had it tough, Dana Baros was the only option on those teams and he was hounded the entire game and still averaged over 20 against great Big East competition. He had every bit the range Rice had as well.

DS said...

great discussion. let's all take our hats off to Tyrese Rice, a true winner. and let's not forget that we don't see what kind of man he is off the court, in the practice gym, in the locker room, in the hotel rooms during team meetings the night before a road game.

Tyrese Rice is currently projected to be the #41 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. after watching the play of Aaron Brooks this year for the Houston Rockets, I think Tyrese might have a chance in the NBA. Aaron Brooks is even smaller than Tyrese, but is having a monster 2nd year in the NBA. thoughts?

thanks Tyrese. and don't forget that there is still a facebook group called "Did Tyrese Rice really just do that? ... Damnn", which is now a couple years old

Nick said...

I actually think Aaron Brooks is a great comparison to make to Tyrese. (which I believe is the site you were referencing re: his draft status, DS) compares his game to Mo Williams, which is also complimentary. If he could duplicate either career path, that would be wonderful for him. And why not?

Nick said...

Or, from a left-handed perspective, how about Delonte West? A little shorter, but also a little quicker.

matthew2 said...

I have nothing but positive things to say about Rice -- he doesn't get too high when he's high, or too low when he's low. Seeing how far he has progressed since coming to BC (as a flashy 2-guard), I really respect what he has done. He has come to emulate his coach in many ways, and that is exactly what you want from your best player.

As far as leadership goes.... From what I can see, Reggie looks up to him like an older brother, in many different ways. He has a great on court relationship with raji, they share an offensive brain. He seems to have a nice professional relationship with Trapani as well. The fact that he doesn't have Greg Paulus like emotion and facial expressions doesn't necessarily mean he isn't a leader. As someone pointed out, we don't see anything but 2 hours every few days. And to receive the praise of Coach Skinner as he so often does is pretty special.

As far as the next few weeks go.... I don't think he will revert back to last year's playing style, as he has changed his game. He has become less of a focus, but still as big of a threat. I just hope that he has one special moment left in him, where he makes a really clutch or amazing play... even if it's just 2 free throws with seconds left to give us a one point win. He's not gonna go out as an NCAA champion, but he can still have a special senior moment.

Thanks for all the memories, Tyrese... I'll never forget the first time I saw you play. Sitting in Conte, an exhibition against St. Michael's. I kept looking down at my scoresheet to see who this #4 rook was, as he drained these 3 point bombs. 16 points in 16 minutes.

eagle1331 said...

BC nabbed a huge QUARTERBACK commitment tonight for the 2010 class.. Joe Boisture who was getting interest from UCLA, Cinci, Pitt, and USC just started calling him

Eagle in Brighton said...

God, I hope he stays committed, his video looks phenomenal.

Chuck said...

I really believe the team will be better without him.

In 2007, I was sitting next to Jared Dudley's brother Milan at the Duke game. Milan and one of Jared's friends were cheering on the team, which was down at halftime. As Rice waiting to receive the opening inbounds pass of the second half, everyone was saying let's go, play hard. He looked at us, just sighed and shrugged his shoulders, as if to say, "What's the point?"

He's a great basketball player but he's not a great winner or a great leader. Another perfect example was late in the game against NC State about a week ago - they sank a bucket towards the end to pretty much ice it, and Rice stood under their basket, immediately dropping his head to show it was over. What did Sanders do? Took and made a quick three to keep the game alive. Rice wasn't willing to believe the team could win, but the young sophomore was. I believe that's why he got the last shot against GT.

That's the difference between Rice and guys like Dudley, or even a guy like Sean Marshall. Marshall would NEVER have given up on a game no matter what the score was. Tyrese doesn't always give up, but it depends on how he feels.

It's not that Tyrese can't win - it's just that sometimes, he doesn't really care.

Boyd said...

I don't get some of this. Not being a leader doesn't make someone a bad player or bad person ("doesn't care"). Some are just psychologically not built for that.

If I'm building a team from scratch, there's about 5 other BC players I would pick first. But if I already HAVE one of those leaders picked, I pick Rice second.

There's only one reason we're going to the dance, and that's Tyrese Rice. He carried the team, and he doesn't even like doing doesn't bring out the best in him. He succeeded anyway, because he's just that good.

Unknown said...

I have loved watching Tyrese Rice for the past four years and I hope I get to watch him for a bunch more games before he moves on. A couple of times this year, especially on this board, I have tried to counter the argument that Rice's offensive performance has regressed and that BC would be better without him. I definitely believe that Rice has been just about as excellent on offense this year as he has in any of his other three years. And the team might have a better season next year but it will NOT be due to Rice's departure.

But I have to agree with the sentiment that there has not been a singular moment this year where Rice shone and carried the team. The game-winners came from Sanders, one off of a Rice miss. The win against UNC was due in large part to Rice. But so many other players contributed to that win in such big ways that Rice did not stand out. The one game I remember Rice really carrying BC was against UAB in MSG, when BC was down in the second half and Rice hit some very big shots to help BC win. That neutral court win over a top-50 RPI team has turned out to be a vital part of BC's at large resume. Even though Rice lacks a singular, indelible highlight from this year, his excellent offensive play and his stewardship of a very young team to the brink of a tourney berth makes his senior year a huge success. And he still has a chance to have that all-time moment in the upcoming games.

Oh, and I cannot get inside Tyrese Rice's head, especially by yelling over to him at one game, but it is crystal clear that he cares as much about winning and BC's success as any star BC has had. Tyrese cares deeply about winning and his play and demeanor prove it.

I know I've been lucky to root for a player who has made big contributions to three BC NCAA tourney teams, has scored more than two thousand points and has been an excellent representative for BC athletics and for the university as a whole. Thanks, Tyrese, for a phenomenal four years.

mod10aeagle said...

Tyrese has been terrific for BC, and he deserves all the praise he's receiving here. There were times this year when his body language implied burn-out, and who could blame him. I just hope he finishes well and happy.

One comment about that time out at the end of the GT game: in the Boston Globe's report on the game they said that during the time out Skinner drew up a play and then erased it saying, "No, I don't want to run that." Then he said something like "Try this [other thing], and if it doesn't work we'll have time to make a stop, call time and run something else." Skinner thought there were 30 seconds left in the game. The story quoted one of the players saying that they were kind of shocked, not just that he wasn't aware of the time, but that they had no play for this critical situation. Bizarre.