Rice says he'll remain a Cane

Feb. 28, 2002

The University of Miami men’s basketball team received good news and bad news Wednesday.

The good news: While UM’s regular-season finale Saturday will be the last home game for leader John Salmons and two other seniors, it will not be for 6-10 sophomore forward Darius Rice.

Despite swelling speculation that Rice might bolt for the NBA after this season, Rice said Wednesday he will return “for at least one more season.”

”I’m not going anywhere, at least not now,” said Rice, UM’s leading scorer (15.3 points per game), who had 30 points and 10 rebounds Tuesday in an 81-65 victory at Providence. “I will be back for at least one more season. I think there are still some things I can learn, and leaving now would be a little too soon.

“I prefer the college game over the NBA game. I truly enjoy the college game. It’s more fun. And we’re not done here at UM. I think this team can play real well in the Big East [tournament] and NCAAs.

The bad news: The No. 22 Hurricanes’ chances of finishing as the No. 2 seed in the East Division and receiving a first-round bye in next week’s Big East tournament dwindled when Notre Dame failed to defeat St. John’s.

St. John’s beat the Irish 84-81 to improve to 19-9 and 9-6 in the conference. The Hurricanes are 21-6 and also 9-6 in the conference.

If UM and St. John’s finish tied, St. John’s would win the tiebreaker. Each team has the same division record and fared the same against the No. 1 team (a split with UConn), so the determining tiebreaker would be how they fared against the No. 4 team. UM lost twice to Boston College, while St. John’s swept.

But not all hope is gone.

UM can clinch the No. 2 seed if it defeats last-place Virginia Tech (10-17, 4-11) at 2 p.m. Saturday at Miami Arena and St. John’s loses its finale Sunday at Villanova.

The East’s No. 3 seed plays a first-round game Wednesday night at 9. The No. 2 seed plays Thursday in a quarterfinal at 2 p.m. against the winner of the West’s No. 3 seed (Notre Dame) and the East’s No. 6 seed (Villanova).

The Fighting Irish (19-9, 9-6) will be the No. 3 seed in the West Division. Pittsburgh and Syracuse will be the two top seeds and receive byes. Connecticut is the No. 1 seed in the East.

UM has never won the Big East tournament. The Hurricanes reached the semifinals in 1998-99 and 1999-00, each time losing to St. John’s.