Rutgers hoops coach Mike Rice said Thursday that his team is staying positive, despite the fact the Scarlet Knights have lost six straight games.
"I still think they’re in as good a place as they can possibly be losing six in a row," Rice said on the weekly Big East coaches teleconference.
The schedule has not been kind of late. Four of those six games were against Top 25 opponents -- Louisville, Notre Dame, Syracuse and Marquette, with three of those four on the road. Rutgers also lost at Providence, and at home to Seton Hall, during that stretch.
"I think we’re improving," said Rice, whose team is now 12-16 overall, 4-11 in conference play. "When you face the level of elite teams that we are right now, it just doesn’t show in the lefthand column."
Rice, known for his fiery demeanor and being hard on his players, also admitted Thursday that he decided to adapt his coaching style several weeks ago. Rutgers is a very young this year, with several freshmen and sophomores playing critical roles. "Patience isn’t one of my strong suits," Rice said. "We became more patient, more positive.
"I see improvement, and as long as I see improvement, I’m gonna stay the course."
Next up for Rutgers is Seton Hall again, on Saturday at the Prudential Center. The Pirates are coming off a huge win over No. 8 Georgetown on Tuesday, which likely locked up an NCAA tournament bid.
Rutgers hasn't made the NCAA tournament since 1991.
Rice admitted "a little bit of envy," referring to seeing Seton Hall headed to March Madness, as well as nearby St. John's making it last year. But two years into this job, he remains confident that he will lead the Scarlet Knights to the Big Dance.
"Our day will come," Rice said. "We’re gonna make it, we’re gonna get there. It’s just a process … and you gotta take some lumps in that process."