THE HIGH SCORERS : Rice Looks Nice in Breaking Tournament Scoring Record
According to a sign hanging in the Kingdome, “Get Rice the ball, down goes The Hall.”
The Hall ain’t all.
A 24-year-old scoring record also fell Monday night as Glen Rice had 31 points to lead Michigan to an 80-79 overtime victory over Seton Hall and its first National Collegiate Athletic Assn. basketball championship.
In six tournament games, the 6-foot-7 forward scored 184 points, seven more than Bill Bradley had for Princeton in five games in the 1965 tournament.
How to summarize Rice’s sustained brilliance?
“Almost indescribable,” Michigan Coach Steve Fisher said. “He has been as good as there is. You talk about the terrific players and what they’ve done for a program--nobody has done more than Glen Rice for Michigan. Not just over a six-game stretch, but over a career.”
Never before, though, had Rice, or almost anyone else, been as consistent an outside scoring threat in such important games.
“No finer shooter in college basketball,” Fisher said. “I think he demonstrated that over the course of this tournament.”
In the Southeast Regional, Rice scored 34 against North Carolina and, two days later, he had 32 against Virginia.
He added 28 last Saturday against Illinois.
“I jumped on Glen Rice’s back at the start of the tournament and he’s carried me to this point,” Fisher said Sunday.
Against Seton Hall, Rice lifted Fisher and the Wolverines again, and not just with his scoring.
He also had a game-high 11 rebounds and, with the game in the balance, harassed Seton Hall’s John Morton into missing his last two shots, including an airball with 12 seconds left in overtime and the Pirates leading, 79-78.
“My first move was to body him up before he got the ball, so he would be sort of off-balance when he did get it,” Rice said of Morton, who led Seton Hall with 35 points. “And then when he shot, I got a hand in his face.”
Rice took the rebound of Morton’s second miss, feeding the ball to Rumeal Robinson, who was fouled as he drove to the basket.
Robinson’s free throws with three seconds left gave Michigan the victory.
And Rice, who made five of 12 three-point attempts and 12 of 25 shots overall, was named as the tournament’s most outstanding player.
“He’s a tremendous, tremendous player,” Fisher said. “And I think the way he plays--with that all-out effort all the time, in practice as well as the games--carries over to everybody else.”
Rice seemed to agree.
“What was important on my part was the way I kept moving without the ball to get into position for my teammates to get me the ball,” he said.
Seton Hall’s Andrew Gaze was left in his wake.
“Clearly, I had my hands more than full,” said Gaze, a two-time Olympian from Melbourne, Australia. “He has attributes I didn’t have to deal with too many times this year. He’s got size and speed, and he’s got such a quick release on his shot.
“He also has incredible touch.”
Rice made four of nine three-point shots in the second half as the Wolverines built a 12-point lead, only to lose it to the rallying Pirates.
Then, after Seton Hall had gone ahead, 68-66, with 1:12 left in regulation, Rice sank a 22-foot shot from the left wing.
Rice had been so productive for the Wolverines that Fisher had to blink twice when Rice’s last-second shot bounced off the rim, sending the game into overtime.
“I thought it was going in,” Fisher said. “I expected it to. I think we were shocked it didn’t, the way he’s shot throughout the tournament.”
Rice was surprised, too.
“I felt I was very much open,” said Rice, who actually had to pivot to shake Gaze as he took a pass from beyond the top of the key.
On the whole, Rice thought Seton Hall defensed him well.
“I think their defensive pressure was, at times, very good,” he said. “They were aggressive and weren’t letting me make the type of moves I wanted to make.”
Obviously, it’s not Rice’s nature to brag.
“I think it’s a great individual achievement,” he said of the scoring record, “but the type of person I am, I feel I owe most of the credit to my teammates. My accomplishments wouldn’t have been possible without them.”
Nor theirs without his.
“Any shot he got off I felt was going to go down, whether I was there or not,” said an exasperated Gaze.
Last week, teammate Loy Vaught said of Rice: “He’s beautiful to watch.”
Clearly, it depends on the perspective.
GLEN RICE IN THE FINAL
MIN FGM-FGA 3PTM-3PTA FTM-FTA REB AST PF PTS 42 12-25 5-12 2-2 11 0 2 31