Rice gets rude welcome back home
Column by Scott German
Homecoming for Virginia native Tyrese Rice played to mixed results Saturday night in John Paul Jones Arena.
While Rice did notch 20 points for Boston College, the Eagles lost an important Atlantic Coast Conference game to home standing Virginia 84-66.
Rice, from the Richmond south side, played at L.C. Bird High School, where he averaged 27 points, seven assists and five rebounds as a senior and earned 2004-2005 the Associated Press (Virginia) Player of the Year honor.
As a freshman, Rice was named to the ACC All-Rookie Team, while last season he was named to the All-ACC second team.
Entering the matchup with the Cavaliers, BC had been riding a roller-coaster season to date. Boston College was a perfect 3-0 in conference play, but had an ugly if not stunning homecourt loss to tiny Robert Morris College earlier this month.
While granted Rice does not think Virginia and Robert Morris are similar in talent, the junior does believe his team has learned a similar lesson from both. The Eagles, without 40 minutes of hard play, are going to lose more than win, especially in the rugged grind known as the ACC.
That fact was clearly played out Saturday, when a disastrous start to the second half resulted in BC’s first conference loss.
Tied at 35 at the break, Virginia started the second half with a 16-4 run as the BC offense imploded time and time again. Before the ship could be righted, it was too late, as Virginia built a comfortable working margin, and never seriously challenged.
“I’m certainly not glad we lost, but I’m kind of glad that we can now level our heads,” said Rice, who despite 20 points was held in check for most of the game by a highly energized Virginia defense. “When you go on the road, you have to be ready to play, and I feel like in the second half we just weren’t ready,” added Rice.
Rice and Boston College coach Al Skinner agreed that against a desperate Virginia team was a difficult assignment. “When you play on the road, you can’t afford distractions,” said Skinner. “You have to have a certain amount of discipline in the way you execute offensively and defensively, and we just didn’t have that tonight.”
Rice wasted little time in praising Virginia All-American Sean Singletary. “Sean is just fabulous,” proclaimed Rice. “He did a great job of pushing the ball and finding the open player, he wants everyone to be involved in the offense, he truly is a coach on the floor.”
While Virginia entered the contest searching for an identity and confidence Rice believed his team may have been guilty of a bit of over confidence. The Eagles were soaring after three straight league wins, but may have forgotten what it took to do that. “This will bring us down to earth and realize you have to work hard to get whatever you want in this league,” Rice said. “I think that’s going to be a lesson we learned from tonight.”
Scott German is a SportsDominion correspodent.