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​The Final Kauntdown: A midwinter airing of grievances


By Andrew Grottkau     1/23/18 10:50pm

Something is missing from Rice Athletics these days. It’s not the fans. They were hardly ever here in the first place. And it’s not winning. Honestly, there’s almost been too much of that lately — are we sure this is our women’s basketball team? The spring semester has begun, and things are going a little bit too well. It’s time we added a little bit of negativity. Without further ado, here is a series of complaints about Rice Athletics.

1. We need to get Rice a diving team. Our swim team practices week in and week out to compete for the conference championship only to be severely disadvantaged because it gets zero points in every diving event. Every other team, including three-time defending conference champion Florida International University, competes. Rice should, too, even if it requires facility upgrades.

2. Let’s settle the speculation about baseball head coach Wayne Graham. Graham is nearing 81 years old and is in the final year of his contract. Nobody knows for sure if this year will be his final season, but speculation abounds that it could be. He’s a living legend. The fact that Rice has not put its full support behind him moving forward suggests that the end of this season could result in a messy breakup.

It should not get to that point. Make it clear going into the season whether he will receive a contract extension, then let him coach without fear of losing his job. Or, tell him it is his final year and let him enjoy a well-deserved retirement tour. Don’t just shove Rice’s greatest athletic icon to the curb when the season ends.

3. It’s reached the point where we cannot keep giving men’s basketball a free pass. Sure, the team lost six of its best players last year, but the team is now 4-16 with just two wins over Division I opponents. The Owls showed a lot of promise in their season opener, losing 73-72 to Eastern Kentucky University. It’s been almost all downhill from there.

The defense has been passable, but the offense has been, in the words of David Bailiff, anemic. Rice ranks dead last in Conference USA with 67.7 points per game and a minus 8.4 scoring margin. Nobody expected the Owls to replicate last year’s success, when they tied a school record in wins, but few expected them to be the worst team in C-USA. In November, I claimed Rice men’s basketball is still rising. I’m not so sure that’s true anymore.

There’s been a little too much positivity in the sports section lately. It’s largely been well deserved, especially given the success of the women’s basketball team and the swim team. But, hey, if you’re not claiming that your favorite teams are doing things wrong, you’re not doing your job as a sports fan. Enjoy this brief respite from celebrating another victory.

Unless you’re watching a men’s basketball game. Then you can keep the complaints coming.

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