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On Saturday, Rice Athletics announced the signing of a new member of the men’s track and field team: Santiago White, from Sugar Land. The athletic department prepared a typical day of signing festivities: a press conference, some short speeches, an official backdrop for photos. But one thing was different: Santiago is 9 years old.
Last year marked a brave new step into an uncharted world for the Rice baseball team. After 27 years, 23 NCAA Tournament appearances and one national championship all under the steady stewardship of Wayne Graham, Rice opted to part ways with the only coach they’d ever achieved success under. But 2018, Graham’s final season, was a far cry from the sustained success that characterized his tenure as Rice’s head coach. The Owls struggled to a 26-31-2 finish, missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1994.
Rice swimming will look to keep its successful season afloat this weekend with a double-dual meet against the University of Houston and Louisiana State University. This year, the Owls have a 5-1 record in dual meets, losing only to No. 11 Texas A&M University. Since returning from winter break, Rice has a spotless 2-0 record, notching convincing wins over the University of North Texas and Southern Methodist University.
There’s no denying it: Rice women’s basketball had a rocky start to the 2019-20 season. Coming off a historic season last year in which the team won 21 straight games and reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005, this year’s team registered a middling 5-6 record against non-Conference USA opponents to start the season.
In the season finale, Rice football defeated the University of Texas, El Paso 30-16, outscoring the Miners 16-0 in the second half en route to their third consecutive victory on Saturday. The victory in Rice’s season finale improved the Owls’ final record to 3-9, a one-win increase over last year’s total and tied for Rice’s best finish since 2016.
As the semester wraps up, it’s a good time to take stock of how Rice Athletics is doing as a whole. At this moment, we believe that there is good reason to be happy and optimistic with how the Owls are performing now and will perform in the future. On a sport by sport basis, Rice sports teams are ending the decade at a peak.
Rice volleyball lost on Sunday to Western Kentucky University, marking the Owls’ first loss in almost two months. Though the match ended on a sour note, it was a closely fought contest, with Rice battling back from an early deficit to force a decisive and dramatic fifth set that featured tense moments on nearly every point. Here are three notable takeaways from the match.
Last year, Rice women’s basketball had its most successful season in program history. The Owls won a program-record 28 games (including 21 in a row) and posted a perfect 16-0 record in Conference USA play, the first team in conference history to do so. Rice also achieved its first-ever top-25 ranking on its way to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2005. This year, Rice will look to build upon its previous season’s success while integrating its newcomers to a young team.
On Monday, Rice volleyball was ranked No. 9 in the nation in the NCAA’s first Rating Percentage Index rankings of the year — the highest ranking in program history.
The construction of Rice Athletics’ indoor practice facility has been delayed and is not expected to be completed until after Beer Bike, according to Deputy Athletic Director Rick Mello. Mello said the primary reason for the delay has been difficulty with establishing electronic circuitry to the facility, and a misunderstanding between Rice and its electrical contractor.
In a thrilling five-set match, and in front of a Tudor Fieldhouse record crowd, Rice volleyball defeated No. 3 University of Texas for the first time in program history, 3-2.
Last Friday, both of Rice’s cross country teams competed at the season-opening Rice Invitational. The men’s team finished first overall, while the women’s team finished third, led by a first-place individual finish by senior Khayla Patel.
Today, Rice volleyball faces its toughest test of the season so far: a match against No. 3-ranked University of Texas, Austin. Rice enters the contest with a 9-1 record on the season.
In a close-fought game, Rice women’s basketball lost in overtime to Marquette University, 58-54. The Owls led by as many as nine points with just under four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but scored just two points in the next nine minutes of play (including overtime), allowing the Golden Eagles to complete the comeback win. With the loss, Rice is eliminated from the NCAA Tournament, ending its historic season.
On Monday, ESPN (somewhat prematurely) released the bracket for the 2019 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. Like many of you readers, I was shocked to see that Rice was a No. 12 seed. And no, I’m not being sarcastic this time. I was completely, unequivocally flabbergasted.
When Tina Langley was named the head coach of Rice women’s basketball in 2015, the program was in dire straits. The Owls hadn’t posted a winning record in four years, and they hadn’t won a postseason game since 2006. Now, after four years of improving Rice’s win totals, recruiting at a consistently high level, scaling the postseason tournament ladder and firmly establishing women’s basketball as Rice Athletics’ preeminent national force, we strongly believe Rice Director of Athletics Joe Karlgaard should prioritize providing Langley with a long-term contract extension as soon as possible.
It was a Senior Day to remember for the Rice women’s basketball team. A record crowd of 2,606 fans at Tudor Fieldhouse watched the Owls defeat Louisiana Tech University 78-42 to complete Rice’s undefeated 13-0 home record, and increase the team’s winning streak to 17 games.
Three Owls came away from last weekend’s Conference USA Indoor Track Championships with individual titles, and the men’s team added a relay title as well. Overall, the women’s team finished fourth out of 13 teams, while the men placed fifth of 10.
For the first time in 27 years, Rice baseball will begin the season without the familiar visage of Wayne Graham at the helm. In his stead is the new captain of the Owls: 46-year-old Matt Bragga, who arrives at Rice with a quite legacy of success to build upon.