Head coach Tina Langley has helped transform the Rice women’s basketball team from a 9-21 record in the 2014-15 season to the a 22-13 record last season. Under her tutelage, Rice had its first 20-win season since 2005. This year, she intends to continue improving Rice basketball and lead the team to postseason success once more. Langley said she is sure not to let the previous season’s performance affect how the team approaches the upcoming season.
“Every season we hope to focus on the process, striving for excellence in all that we do.” Langley said.
Despite losing top-tier talent and a strong veteran presence this past year with the departure of seniors Maya Hawkins and Jasmine Goodwine, Langley said she is not concerned. She said she expects the team will change and evolve for the better, and that other players will step up to fill in the holes they have left behind.
“Teams change every year and everyone has a chance to leave their mark as a leader.” Langley said. “Their leadership is not lost, we will recall lessons they taught us and learn from them, and new opportunities for leadership will arise.”
Moreover, the team has been able to recruit top-tier players to ensure that the Owls will continue to succeed. This year, the team is adding sophomore Erica Ogwumike and junior Olivia Ogwumike, two sisters who transferred to Rice from Pepperdine University. Erica was a top-100 recruit and made the First-Team All-West Coast Conference during her freshman year with the Waves, and Olivia was second on the team in points per game her sophomore year. The team also adds freshman guard Sydne Williams, who is ranked the No. 30 shooting guard in her recruiting class by ESPN. Langley attributes the team’s ability to recruit top talent to vibrant community here at Rice.
“We’ve been fortunate to recruit some of the best players in the country because of all that Rice has to offer,” Langley said. “Young women are seeking an environment where they can be surrounded by people of high character striving to be the best in the community, classroom and on the court. That’s Rice.”
While Langley acknowledges that the team only has a few returning players experienced in Rice’s basketball style, she said she is confident that her players will be able to adapt successfully and thrive.
“I know that each player will put the time in to learn and grow as individuals, and that will help our team address those issues,”Langley said. “Given the character of the young women in our program, I believe the challenges we face will only draw us closer and make us stronger.”
The Owls will travel to Grand Canyon University to start off their season on Nov. 10. Rice is looking to build on its success from last year and compete for the Conference USA championship.