After the win on Friday night, Monmouth head coach King Rice made a point to thank Rider head coach Kevin Baggett.
Rice, who won MAAC Coach of the Year hours before their win over Rider, knew that reaching the final handshake would be a tough position.
“Kevin and I became very close friends,” Rice said after the game in his opening statement. “I call him all the time during the season, probably talk to him at times when coaches don’t truly talk to each other during the season about the things we talk about, but he’s truly became a friend of mine and he’s reached out to me a few times.”
“I texted him yesterday, as soon as the game was over, so this game today was hard because if we win their season’s over and he’s my friend. I know how stressful this job is when its not going your way okay, so just a lot of respect for that locker room down there, lot of respect for Kevin as a man, as a husband, as a coach, as a leader of young men.”
Baggett took the Coach of the Year award last season after leading the Broncs to their second second place finish in his tenure. At their postgame handshake, the Rider coach said he hopes Rice’s team continues on their winning ways in the MAAC tournament.
“I just told him I wanted him to go on winning,” Baggett said. “I really think a lot of King and he and I have had a great relationship, since I’ve been in this league and I root for all the coaches in this league, but you know in particular he and I have talked quite a bit.”
“Even through his struggles we’ve talked and then through my struggles this year, he was the guy my sounding board a little bit, just giving me confidence in order to just continue to stay through it. We both had success and he’s having it now and we had it last year, I had it my first year, it’s just the highs and lows of being in this profession, but you can really count on a guy like King, who I consider a good friend. I’m rooting for those guys to win the league, I really think a lot of him and his team.”
Ryan Restivo wrote the America East conference preview for the 2015-16 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference among others for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.