The scene is a talk radio show solely dedicated to Rice Athletics. The host is taking callers during a segment on the past weekend of games. Of course, this is entirely fictional. Any radio show solely devoted to Rice Athletics would surely be taken off the air in a week due to low ratings.
Host: Well, it’s been a rough weekend for Rice sports. The women’s basketball team lost a very winnable game against the University of Texas, San Antonio, the baseball team was swept in four games at Stanford University, the men’s basketball team blew a chance to get a crucial road victory at Florida International University and the men’s tennis team got stomped at the Blue-Gray Invitational. But hey, at least women’s tennis picked up some victories! Let’s get to the phones now. Caller number one, go ahead.
Caller 1: I’m through with this. Wayne Graham has got to go. It’s the same stuff again and again. He leaves his pitchers in too long, the defense commits 15 errors a game and the batting just isn’t good enough. When is the athletic director going to finally pull the plug? Graham’s old methods just aren’t working anymore. I mean, look at Saturday’s game. Rice gave up five unearned runs. FIVE UNEARNED RUNS. How has Rice even won three games this season with a defense that plays like a Little League team?
Host: You want the athletic director to get rid of the coach who built Rice baseball because of one bad weekend? The Owls are 3-1 outside of this weekend’s series. And this weekend Rice played a top-10 team on the road two time zones away.
Caller 1: Sure, but this is exactly how last season started. Sloppy defense, bad offense and inconsistent pitching. Rice might’ve cleaned up its act by the end of the year, but it was extremely fortunate to make the conference tournament, let alone the NCAAs. The offense put up eight runs in four games. That’s two runs per game! I don’t care who you’re playing; if you want to make it to the College World Series you HAVE to beat teams like Stanford.
Host: I’ll admit, there were some concerning things in this series. But most teams are sloppy early in the season. Rice might look terrible right now and Stanford might look great, but all that matters is how these teams play if they meet up three months from now in the NCAA Tournament. Let’s turn to our second caller.
Caller 2: I want to talk about men’s basketball. Rice almost, and maybe should have, won its two games in Florida this weekend against Florida Atlantic University and FIU. It seems like they’re competing a lot better; they’re not getting blown out every night anymore. This season might be a lost cause, but I’m expecting a pretty good team next year.
Host: There’s definitely been improvement. But there’s a big difference between keeping games close against teams like FAU and FIU and being a contender in Conference USA. Next season should be better, but don’t expect sophomore Josh Parrish and the incoming freshmen to bring Rice back to where it was with Marcus Evans and Egor Koulechov. The Owls are a long way from where they want to be.
Caller 2: I never said they’d be as good as they were with Evans and Koulechov. Those guys were all-time greats for Rice. I just think this team wins a couple big games and gets to the top eight of the conference next year. After that, who knows? There’s no ceiling.
Host: Look, predicting a team that is currently No. 290 in the Ken Pomeroy computer rankings to be near the top of the conference in two years is quite a stretch. Let’s stick to this year, where the Owls are slightly less overmatched than they were three weeks ago. That’s an improvement, but let’s pump the brakes. Caller 3, you’ve been on the line for a while, take it away.
Caller 3: Hey, this is my first time calling in. Big fan of the show. Here’s my take: Women’s basketball has a legitimate star in sophomore Erica Ogwumike and a wonderful No. 2 option in junior Nicole Iademarco. This team is for real; I think they’ve got a real shot of making the NCAA Tournament this year.
Host: Couldn’t agree more. Outside of baseball, which is the No. 1 sport at Rice until further notice, women’s basketball might be the best program Rice has right now. Ogwumike and Iademarco are 2018’s Evans and Koulechov. The Owls are a real contender in the C-USA tournament and they should only get better next year. With one of the top transfers in the country in sophomore Nancy Mulkey joining the team along with two McDonald’s All-American recruits, the 2018-19 Owls should be one of the conference favorites heading into the year.
Caller 3: Head coach Tina Langley deserves a raise. She’s recruited extremely well and she might be an even better in-game coach. Best hire Rice has made in a while, hands down.
Host: The only concern I have is that she might be a little too good. Major programs are going to start noticing the amazing job she’s done at Rice soon enough and they’re going to want her. Can’t blame her if she takes a job like that, but it would be nice to not have another coach leave for a bigger school. Next caller, you’re up.
Caller 4: How does Rice not have a diving team? That’s ridiculous. It cost us ANOTHER conference championship this year! What is Rice —
Host: I’m gonna have to cut you off there. We’ve talked about that plenty in the last few weeks. It’s gotta change. All right, it’s time for a commercial break. Thanks for listening to the Rice Radio Show on 1912 The Fan.