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SPORTS 11/1/12 7:00pm

Rice Women's Cross Country excels at Conference

The Rice women's cross country team took its talents to Hattiesburg, Miss., on Oct. 29 to compete in the 2012 Conference USA Cross Country Championships, hosted by the University of Southern Mississippi. Last year, the women finished in third place behind Southern Methodist University and the University of Tulsa. This year, the women found themselves finishing in a tie for fourth place with University of Alabama at Birmingham. They finished behind SMU, Tulsa and East Carolina University.


SPORTS 11/1/12 7:00pm

Soccer falls to SMU in Opening Round of C-USA, 3-1

With a potential conference co-championship on the line, the Rice University Owls did not disappoint, winning 1-0 against in-city rivals University of Houston. The Owls were victorious due to the great defense of sophomore goalkeeper Amy Czyz and the penalty kick by captain Lauren LaGro. LaGro, a senior, did not miss in the most consequential minute of play and scored the decisive championship goal. With the win, the Owls ended the night and the regular season as Conference USA co-champions alongside Colorado College. At the end of the season, the Owls had an 11-6-3 record, including an 8-2-1 conference record. While the Owls were able to celebrate their glory for a short while, there was a quick turnaround in their schedule: the C-USA Championship Tournament.Before the tournament even began, C-USA released its all-conference honors for the year. Four Owls made the cut. Freshman forward Holly Hargreaves, who has had an impressive season this year, received the honor of C-USA Freshman of the Year. Hargreaves is the first to receive the honor in Owls soccer history. Hargreaves also received two other honorable distinctions. She was selected to the all-freshman team along with teammate Lauren Hughes, and Hargreaves was also named a member of the all-conference first team along with sophomore midfielder Quinney Troung. The Owls also posted two members, Hughes and LaGro, on the all-conference second team. These recognitions to the all-conference teams are equal in number to those of conference rival and nationally ranked University of Central Florida, emphasizing just how great a season the Owls have had.With the loss to Colorado College two weeks ago, the Owls were relegated to the No. 2 overall seed heading into the tournament. This was definitely a surprise for many in C-USA, as the Owls were projected to finish sixth in the conference during preseason rankings. Heading into the tournament, Head Coach Nikki Adams was cognizant of the work still ahead."The tournament's tough," Adams said. "SMU has always been a rivalry with Rice. We expect the best coming from them."The Owls began their tournament play on Oct. 31 with a loss against the Southern Methodist University Mustangs, 3-1. Hagreaves scored the lone goal for the Owls, her tenth of the year. With the loss, the Owls have been eliminated from the tournament. With the tournament behind them, the Owls must wait to see if they receive an at-large bid invite to the NCAA tournament next week. Until then, we can assess the success that the team has had this year. The Owls, as mentioned before, defied all expectations of everyone in the conference. They were projected to finish sixth in the conference, but ended the season with a co-championship.The future looks even brighter for the program, especially with Hughes and Hargeaves having a lot more soccer to play for the Owls. If their freshman season was this good with many records broken, imagine what the 2013 season has in store for the women's soccer. Add to the fact that the whole team for the most part was young this year, one more year of play together has them primed hopefully to repeat as C-USA champions.


SPORTS 11/1/12 7:00pm

The Fifth Lap

I was late to the last Rice women's soccer game of the regular season at the University of Houston last Friday. Very late, actually.


SPORTS 11/1/12 7:00pm

Owls Football dominates Southern Mississippi, 44-17

There is definitely something magical about Rice Stadium for the Owls: Something different seems to happen when the team is at home.  The offense seems more efficient, the defense hits harder - and all of this results in more wins on the field.In their four home games this year, the Owls have played noticeably better than on the road, beating and competitively playing some teams that logic says they would not.  But, on the flip side, the team has struggled mightily on the road, with its win against a one-win University of Kansas team as their only victory.  A loss against University of Memphis on the road is one of the largest blemishes so far this season.This weekend, the Owls lived up to their reputation at Rice Stadium, rolling over the University of Southern Mississippi Golden Hurricanes, the defending Conference USA champions.  The game was an absolute rout, with Rice clicking on all cylinders."I'm really proud of this football team," Rice Head Coach David Bailiff said.  "Proud of how we started the game, and really proud of how we started the second half.  I thought the defense today, with five forced turnovers, was where the separation really started h appending in the second half.  When you looked up on the scoreboard, we had 17 second-half points."  By halftime, the score was 21-10.  The Owls finished 44-17 and their biggest win of the season.  Turner Petersen, a junior running back, led the way for the Owls without an impressive 136 rushing yards.  He had a rushing and a receiving touchdown, helping stoke the offense for Rice.  Petersen ended without an average of over seven yards per carry. Both Rice quarterbacks contributed, with junior Taylor McHargue going 7-12 80 yards and a touchdown before being slammed to the ground on a nasty horse collar.  Freshman backup Driphus Jackson entered the game, contributing 92 yards and two touchdowns."I was so proud, offensively, of Driphus Jackson, who came in and played early and then finished the game," Bailiff. "McHargue could have come back in, but we opted to keep out with the score being where it was."The Rice defense was ferocious, allowing only 116 rushing yards out of a good rushing team.  Gabe Baker, a sophomore starting in only his second game, led the way with nine total tackles.  Red shirt juniors Cody Bauer and Hosam Shahin and red shirt senior Jared Williams all contributed two tackles for losses."I think defensively as a whole, we worked better each week," safety Paul Porras said. "With Tulsa,  they ran the ball, and with Southern Miss, they tried to air the ball out a little more.  I think it's really preparing us to go against [Tulane University].  They have a very pass-oriented offense, and our defensive backs are going to be ready." Tulane, the Owls' opponent this week, presents a decent passing offense but is one of the worst teams inside C-USA.  With only two wins on the season, Tulane could be an easy Owls victory - if Rice shows up to play on the road.The Green wave has a decent passing offense, averaging over 250 yards per game, but has struggled both on the run and defensively.  Tulane seems to handle every position, with a large number of quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers all getting touches on the ball.The Mercedes-Benz Superdome, where Tulane plays, has a rough atmosphere.  Not necessarily because Tulane fans pack the stadium, but because the NFL-sized dome presents an atmosphere in which most college teams are not used to playing.If Rice can adjust to the challenging dome environment, this is a very winnable game.  With a 6-6 record needed to be eligible for a bowl, the Owls need to win their next three games to have a possibility of playing December football.  The big problem is that two of those games come on the road. Surely, it has snuck into at least a few of the players' minds that a bowl appearance, which would be the first since 2008, is still on the table if t he team can just win.  After the Southern Miss game, McHargue was feeling optimistic about the team's chances.  "Great team win," McHargue tweeted.  "No reason why we can't rip [three] more off and make a bowl!"


SPORTS 10/24/12 7:00pm

Football's Alex Lyons wins NFF scholar-athlete award

Rice University has distinguished itself from many other Division I universities by having student-athletes who not only excel in their respective sports but also perform well in the classroom. Freshman Alex Lyons has demonstrated what it takes to be a high-achieving student while playing sports at the high school and the collegiate level. Lyons, a linebacker for the Owls football team, was awarded the National Football Foundation National High School Scholar-Athlete Award, an honor given to only five football players throughout the country for their exemplary performance both on the football field and in school. The award was given based on  merit and the region where the athletes played during their high school career. Lyons represented the South Region. He and the other four winners were chosen from a total of 450,000 high school football players who were followed by the NFF Chapter Network. "It feels pretty good," Lyons said. "I guess the true feeling has not hit me yet, but I do feel extremely blessed to receive the award."Lyons said that he did not anticipate receiving the award at first and was pleasantly surprised to hear that he was a winner. "My initial reaction was shock," Lyons said. "I was on my way back home to Dallas when I got the call. When I heard the news, I seriously could not believe it." Lyons and the other winners will receive their awards during the NFF Chapter Awards Luncheon on Dec. 4, 2012, in New York City. Lyons said that he was appreciative of winning the award, and was quick to express gratitude toward those who had helped him get to this point. "My high school experience with football and academics was great," Lyons said. "I saw a lot of success in both areas. Balancing time for football and school was not difficult in high school because most things came naturally."On the football field, Lyons won numerous accolades, including First Team All-District. He said he is most proud of being named Defensive Newcomer of the Year in his district as a sophomore, as well as the NFF Scholar-Athlete Award.Lyons said he hopes to bring the same motivation, effort and dedication to his sport as a student-athlete at Rice University. At the college level, this could prove to be more difficult because of longer practices, travel and harder classes. "Honestly, managing football and academics at Rice is by far the most challenging task I have ever faced," Lyons said. "Actually, I am still in the process of figuring out the most effective way to do it. I cannot wait for the day when I figure it out."Lyons joins just a total of 96 all-time winners for this prestigious award. He can also go on to win the same award at the college level by maintaining the levels of academic and athletic excellence that helped him win it in high school, a feat only five athletes have accomplished. 


SPORTS 10/24/12 7:00pm

Powderpuff Scouting Notebook: Week 6

Brown vs. GSA (6-0, OT) This game was a defensive struggle on both sides, with Brown College managing to scrape together a touchdown drive in overtime to clinch the game. The Graduate Student Association was without its starting quarterback in this contest, possibly accounting for the overall lack of scoring. GSA and McMurtry College were the two best teams in the North Division entering the week, and according to the standings still are, but neither looked too impressive this past week.  Jones vs. McMurtry (14-13) McMurtry College looked impressive early, scoring and seeming as though it would turn this game into a blowout. However, Jones College was able to battle back to go into the half down 13-6 before scoring in the final two minutes of the game to bring the game within one point. Jones then smartly elected to go for the two-point conversion to win the game, a decision we would like to take a second to praise. Extra points in Powderpuff are far from given, and we would argue not nearly twice as easy as a two-point conversion, so going for two is almost always the probabilistically wise decision. To understand this with the game on the line is commendable, and the Jones coaching staff deserves credit for its decisiveness. McMurtry did not look good in this loss, but Jones also might be better than we thought in light of this victory and its narrow loss to Wiess College.  Martel vs. Duncan (7-0, OT) Martel College took care of business in this game, albeit in an unimpressive manner, winning in overtime after scoring and then intercepting Duncan College to end the game. Martel remains in the playoff hunt despite being under .500 and possessing a negative point differential. Martel is, however, 2-1 in the North Division. Winning games in-division is far more crucial to a team's playoff success than winning its inter-conference matchups, and Martel has done a solid job at this thus far. The playoff picture is wide open in the North, as Jones has a chance to sneak in with a couple of divisional victories. Brown also has a chance at the playoffs with a victory over Jones and a McMurtry loss to Martel.  Sid Richardson vs. Lovett (13-6)In what was probably the most anticipated game of the week, Sid Richardson was able to defeat Lovett. The game was a hard-fought defensive battle, and Sid looked extremely impressive in victory. Sid went up 13-0 in the middle of the fourth quarter, but Lovett scored with slightly under two minutes remaining, stopped Sid on its subsequent drive and advanced the ball all the way to Sid's 20-yard line before Sid ended the game with a sack. Lovett has displayed a tendency to fall down early in games before riding torrid comebacks to victory, but that pattern will not hold up against the tough competition of the South Division. This was a massive win for Sid and tightens up the race for the South, with Baker, Hanszen, Sid and Lovett Colleges all having legitimate shots at first place. As we have said before, sometimes it looks like the five best teams in the league are in the South, and it is truly a shame that Wiess College will most likely be on the outside looking in come playoff time. Hanszen vs. Wiess (35-20)As the score would indicate, this game was an absolute offensive showcase. Hanszen looked brilliant at times on offense en route to five total touchdowns in what was easily quarterback Audrey Chao's best game of the year. Chao accounted for all five of Hanszen's touchdowns, with three coming through the air and two on the ground, and if she can maintain something close to this level of play going forward, Hanszen has true juggernaut potential. We criticized Hanszen's offense a little bit in this space in recent weeks, arguing that most of their scoring came either directly from its defense or as a result of the short fields its defense created, but the offense was truly on fire against Wiess. Wiess also looked quite impressive offensively and produced a point total that would be enough to win most weeks, but the team had the misfortune of running into a dominant opponent. Hanszen leads the league in point differential by a mile at +57, which is 28 points greater than Baker's margin of +31. Baker's point differential is 28 points greater than that of seventh-place GSA, showing just how much better Hanszen has been according to this particular metric. The race for the South is going to come down to the finish and the favorite seems to shift with each passing game. Hanszen plays Baker in a critical game next week, which not only will go a long way toward determining playoff seeding but will also give us another piece of data in the ongoing discussion about the best team in Powderpuff, an argument that in our opinion currently comes down to one of these two teams.


SPORTS 10/24/12 7:00pm

Women's soccer season ending, first place in sight

With the season almost over, the women's soccer team has not disappointed, posting an overall record of 10-6-3, including an impressive 7-2-1 mark in Conference USA play. The Owls' improvement from non-conference play to the team they are today is no easy feat, and the team is reaping the rewards of this progress. The Owls are tied for first in the C-USA standings entering the final week of conference play and are trying to not only wrap up a conference championship, but also secure the first seed in the upcoming C-USA tournament, which begins on Oct. 31. Women's soccer began during the middle of August with nine non-conference games against competitive teams from other conferences. The Owls came out of the gate with a tough non-conference schedule, playing teams such as Baylor University and Oklahoma State University. These games were set up the team's success in conference play this year, Head Coach Nicky Adams said."There's a reason that we go out and schedule really tough teams - so that we are prepared for the conference," Adams said. "With us having such a young team, I think it was good for us to mold really early and be able to do what we have this second half of the season." This is Adams' third year as head coach, and she is one of the reasons for the team's success this season. Since Adams took over the women's soccer program in 2010, the Owls have constantly improved, and her players agree that Adams has been key to Rice women soccer's recent rise in C-USA. "Since [Adams] took over, we've definitely had a different mindset because our style changed a little bit and became more of a team," team captain and senior midfielder Julia Barrow said. Barrow has played for the Owls both before and during Adams' tenure.With the non-conference games behind them, the Owls turned their attention to the heart of their schedule and conference matchups. The women opened conference play at home on Sept. 21 and 23 with victories against both the University of Tulsa and Southern Methodist University. These two games not only opened conference play with a demonstration of the strength of Rice's team, but also displayed one of the keys to the Owls' success this season: the freshmen.Freshmen forwards Lauren Hughes and Holly Hargreaves are a major reason the Owls are tied for first in conference play. Hughes and Hargreaves have each scored nine goals so far this year, making them responsible for 18 of the 23 overall goals scored by the team.  Additionally, both women have set Rice women's soccer all-time records for a single season. Hargreaves set a record for the most game-winning goals in a single season. She has scored six so far, including the epic game-winner against Southern Methodist University that helped her net the honor of C-USA Co-Offensive Player of the Week of Sept. 24. Adams said that even before the season she knew Hargreaves and Hughes could possibly play crucial roles this year.     "We knew coming in that they were going to be impact players for us, but any time with freshmen, you do not know what you are going to get," Adams said. "But those two just came in and we have been on fire ever since the beginning, and both of them took their roles seriously. The thing is, they're working really good together as well." With the emergence of both Hughes and Hargreaves, the Owls continued to win, following up their Tulsa and SMU wins with a split on their first conference road trip. The team defeated the University of Southern Mississippi but fell 1-0 to the University of Central Florida, which was ranked No. 10 in the nation at the time. Next, the Owls defeated Marshall University before tying with East Carolina University the same weekend, leaving the Owls tied for second place in conference behind the University of Memphis and setting up a pivotal matchip in Memphis, Tenn., on Oct. 11. The game was picked up for national television and was named Fox Soccer Channel's National Soccer Coaches Association of America Game of the Week. The Owls defeated the Tigers  2-0 with goals from Hughes and sophomore midfielder Gabriela Iribarne. The victory also culminated in Hughes winning C-USA Offensive Player of the Week on Oct. 15. The win jolted the Owls into first place in C-USA, where they have remained. Adams herself stressed the importance of the win and getting into first place as crucial. Following the Memphis win, the women ended the road trip by defeating the University of Alabama at Birmingham, leading to the final home weekend of the season. This past week's games were the final home games for seniors Barrow, Amy Beger, Alex Burton, Lauren LaGro and Andie Obermeyer. Last week's play resulted in a split with a 1-0 win versus the University of Texas at El Paso on Oct. 19 and a 1-0 loss to Colorado College last Sunday.  The loss left the Owls tied with Colorado College for possession of first place in C-USA as they head into the final regular-season game tonight against rival University of Houston. For the Owls, the game means more than just bragging rights this year. Also on the line is the C-USA championship and a possible No.1 seed in the C-USA Tournament, based on Colorado College's result in its final game. However, the Owls need a lot in order to have both these things take place. First and foremost, they must defeat UH. A loss to the Cougars, and the Owls' chances of a No. 1 seed in the conference tournament are gone. Also, UCF is right on the heels of Rice and Colorado College and plays a weak University of Southern Mississippi team in its final match of the year. If both the Owls and Colorado College lose and UCF wins in Hattiesburg, Miss., UCF will win the C-USA championship. In essence, the Owls must win today for a championship trophy this season, making today's match the most critical of the year. 


SPORTS 10/24/12 7:00pm

Rugby wraps up preseason and prepares for a promising year ahead

The Rice Rugby Football Club will play its first regular season game tomorrow at 2 p.m. against Texas State University. Though only the season opener, captain Agha Nkama said he thinks the game will be a good indicator of who will win the league championship."I look forward to the game against Texas State because it practically determines who's going to win the league," Nkama said. "It looks like we're the favorites, and I'm looking forward to success."Last year, the rugby team finished second in the Southwest Conference to the University of Texas. This year, the Owls are favored to win the Division I-AA conference championships since UT has since moved up to Division I-A. However, the rugby men are not taking this season for granted. In addition to practicing on Tuesdays and Thursdays like last year, the team has added Monday and Wednesday morning runs and conditioning to its regimen.The true test of the team's fitness will come tomorrow as the team expects to beat the only other team, after UT, that beat the Owls last year. "Last year, we weren't prepared physically so we ended up losing [to Texas State]," Rugby President Shaun Haby said. "Now, we have stepped up our training, and I think it shows."Not only have the Owls trained harder this year, but they have also, for the first time in Rice rugby history, prepared for the regular season by participating in the 7s (7 men on each side) preseason in an effort to gain extra practice entering the year.  Despite finishing as the seventh overall seed after playing in two round-robin tournaments, the Owls are optimistic about their upcoming 15s (15 men on each side) season."7s wasn't too kind to us, but 15s is what we've always done, so it should be our bread and butter," Haby said. "We didn't lose too many guys from last year, so we should have a strong team."Nkame, who has been in the rugby club since his freshman year and played on the team that went to Division II national championship two years ago, said this team looks like it has the most potential since he joined it."We have strong senior and junior classes that make up all the starters," Nkame said.Haby, who spent the past summer playing rugby in New Zealand, he said he wants to end his career on a high note by winning the conference championship and going to nationals. Though Rice lost to Texas State in the 7s conference championship tournament earlier this year, Nkame and Haby have confidence that their strong returning roster will play to win.


SPORTS 10/24/12 7:00pm

The Fifth Lap

In a New York Times column published last week, William Rhoden lambasted the idea of an idealized "sports hero." Citing the fall from grace of stars ranging from Tiger Woods to Michael Vick to, most recently, Lance Armstrong, Rhoden argued that the definition of a sports hero as an example or a role model needs to be thrown out. At one level, I agree with Rhoden that we often incorrectly equate greatness on the field with greatness off it. Athletes and coaches, like all people, are incredibly complex and often face vices just as impressive in magnitude as their athletic talent.  There is value in being able to separate out and praise someone's admirable characteristics without projecting that across their entire person, whether that person is an athlete or holds a different position of influence. The principle holds just as well for Michael Jordan as it does for Steve Jobs.  However, Rhoden begins to take the path a step further, implying that at some level we shouldn't hold athletes to a standard of conduct. It is here that I strongly disagree.  Rhoden begins his article by citing an old commercial with Charles Barkley where Barkley asserted that he is "not a role model," that instead the responsibility is on parents to be role models and raise their kids. Rhoden then goes on to infer that the not-a-role-model idea is fundamentally right, that society should not have expected Barkley to be a role model because he can shoot a basketball. But role model or not, Barkley was, and had no choice but to be, a representative of the organizations and cities that he played for. And it is because of this that we can and should hold athletes to a standard of conduct outside of competition as well as in it. This idea is particularly clear when applied to our Rice student athletes. By putting on the Rice uniform, they become representatives of the university, its alumni, its students and its values. They become representatives of us. And, realistically, that representation doesn't end when the uniform comes off. Instead, personal interactions and off-the-field headlines (positive or negative) add significantly to the public perception of Rice athletics, and therefore Rice University. Social media has added a new dimension to off-the-field interaction between fans and athletes, and therefore applies in this area as well. What student athletes post reflects to a certain extent on this university, whether that works to build its reputation or tear it down. Critics will argue that athletes are compensated for their athletic performance, not for the quality of their character or conduct. Rice does not give out athletic scholarships to individuals because they are "good people," and even star athletes whose personal misconduct has tarnished their and their organizations' reputations are often still rewarded for athletic performance. Michael Vick still makes a lot of money playing football. Tiger Woods still is rewarded handsomely by golf tournaments and his myriad endorsement deals.  But even though we reward athletes primarily for their athletic prowess, being a representative is part of the job. Therefore, their organizations and endorsers should hold them to a certain standard of conduct, encourage them to go above it and not tolerate if they fall too far below it. In practice, this idea seems to still hold. Tiger Woods did lose endorsements. Michael Vick did spend time in jail. Olympic athletes who posted racially inflammatory comments were dismissed by their countries.Athletes are going to make mistakes, sometimes egregious mistakes. Inevitably, we will at some point be blindsided by personal revelations about an athlete whom we admired. I already have been, many times over. But expectations drive behavior, and therefore we should continue to expect athletes to be positive representatives of their organizations and fans. Just because they sometimes fail does not mean that the expectation should be lowered. We wouldn't lower them on the field. We shouldn't off the field, either. 


SPORTS 10/24/12 7:00pm

Tulsa squeaks past floundering Owls, 28-24

Last season, the University of Southern Mississippi football program was the only thing that stood between the University of Houston and a BCS bowl. With 11 wins and a conference title, the 2011 season surpassed everyone in Hattiesburg's wildest dreams. With 18 consecutive winning seasons under their belt, it seemed that Southern Miss was a storybook mid-major program - and then 2012 struck.With a coaching change and a brutal non-conference schedule that has to be considered one of the hardest in the nation, the Golden Eagles find themselves seven games into the season without a win. Seemingly everything that could go wrong has, with injured quarterbacks, a defense that cannot stop anyone and one of the worst turnover ratios in the nation.And yet, this team still has some fight. With a few games that have only been decided by one possession, a running attack that still can be dangerous and special teams that have been playing well, Rice cannot simply look at this team as an easy victory, especially with the team's recent performances."We're very close, but we're very close to the season being over," Rice quarterback Taylor McHargue said. "You can only be close for so long and then you are out of chances."Last weekend, Rice lost another heartbreaker on the road against the University of Tulsa Golden Hurricanes. Tulsa, tied for the C-USA lead with five straight conference wins, was heavily favored against the Owls.Rice got on the scoreboard first with a huge special teams play, as wide receiver Sam McGuffie blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown. Rice and Tulsa traded touchdowns for the rest of the half (two short touchdowns from McHargue), sending Rice into the locker room 21-14, having never trailed the conference leader.Both defenses came out to play in the second half, with the first 14 minutes of the third quarter going scoreless. But a Rice interception led to great Tulsa field position, and one good throw from Tulsa quarterback Kalen Henderson tied the game back up at 21-21.Rice put together a strong drive in the fourth, leading to a 35-yard field goal from kicker Chris Boswell. Boswell, the best kicker in the C-USA, had previously missed from 47 yards in the third and would miss from 36 in the closing minutes of the fourth.Tulsa, down three with only three minutes to play, knew they needed to put together a full-field drive to have a chance at winning the game. The big play struck the Owls, with running back Jaterian Douglas snapping off a 75-yard run, setting Tulsa up at the five-yard line. A one-yard run was be the nail in the coffin for the Owls, falling 28-24.The most impressive performance of the evening came from freshman running back Luke Turner, with 102 yards, mostly out of the Wild Owl formation, all coming in the second half. He provided a needed spark to the Owls' offense and seemingly fooled the Golden Hurricanes, giving them one more thing to worry about.McHargue played well, with one rushing touchdown and one passing touchdown, but struggled at times against a great Tulsa defense. The sudden revelation of Luke Turner really helped open up the field for him, providing a much needed lift for the recently-struggling quarterback.With the season-ending injury to cornerback Bryce Callahan the week before, Head Coach David Bailiff was forced to slide safety Malcolm Hill to corner, starting sophomore Gabe Baker at strong safety. The move appeared to work well, with Baker recording seven tackles. Baker had seen a lot of repetitions over the season in second-string duty, so he was prepared to play a bigger role.The game was Rice's 14th consecutive C-USA loss on the road. Despite the progress of some players, the entire Rice team was still upset with losing another close game.  "It was a heartbreaking game," Bailiff said. "This team played well, and we led the whole game except the last minute and 30 seconds. It was one where we had some opportunities out there, and we have to take advantage of those opportunities when you play a team like Tulsa. They were there, but we didn't finish."Hopefully, having beat UTSA their last game at home and playing well against a good Tulsa team will provide a needed boost for the Owls in their return to Rice Stadium against Southern Miss.The offensive look with Luke Turner (who played quarterback in high school and can also throw the ball) out of the Wild Owl really changes the game plan for those playing Rice. Now, with a mobile quarterback, a successful history of running the option and the Wild Owl, there is no shortage of gadgets in Bailiff's arsenal.


SPORTS 10/18/12 7:00pm

The Fifth Lap

Last weekend, Austrian daredevil skydiver Felix Baumgartner paused. There he sat for a moment, on the edge of his high-tech space balloon, 24 miles above the surface of the earth, on the verge of doing something no human had ever done before. Over a hundred thousand feet below and several hours removed, Rice athletes paused. There they sat for a moment, in a locker room, on the bench or on the starting line, in Texas, Carolina, Kentucky or Alabama on the verge of doing something many people had done before. Then, Baumgartner literally did what the Rice athlete then did figuratively: He jumped. One of the reasons I am so passionate about sports specifically, and extracurricular activities more generally, is that they teach lessons and develop skills that are incredibly difficult to cultivate in other settings. One of those hard-earned lessons is how to take a step away from the safety of the known into an unknown full of risk and possibility. Obviously, the stakes that come with starting a game or a meet are not the same as those that come with free-falling from the edge of space. And this is not to say that sports are transforming kids around the world into a generation of daredevils (I've competed for years but still have a hard time jumping off a six-foot diving board, much less an airplane). The parallel, however, is a great visual illustration of this important lesson. Whenever an athlete (or a musician or performer) steps into competition, he takes on the very real risk of an extremely public failure in something he cares deeply about and has worked hard for. This idea was on full display in Rice sports last weekend. Football faced the weight of being one of the central pieces of the Centennial Celebration.  Soccer and volleyball faced the increased scrutiny and pressure that come with being near the top of the conference standings. And both men's and women's cross country competed in their most visible, high-profile non-championship meets of the season.All of these competitions provided great opportunities for success. But in order to have a chance at those successes, they required taking on the accompanying risk of failure. This ability to take on challenges despite the risk of failure is applicable far beyond the realm of athletics. It applies to everything from starting a new business, to pioneering a new medical procedure, to taking an unconventional diplomatic approach, to just asking out that cute girl that lives down the hallway. Those who have competed or performed have taken on such risks before and have almost certainly having failed at some point along the way. They are therefore much better prepared to take on opportunities when they come about. This lesson is just one of the reasons continued support for competitive athletics and other competitive extracurricular activities is critical, especially at the elementary, junior high and high school levels.  Being competitive is one of the key elements for truly impactful extracurriculars. Yes, the fun, fair, positive soccer leagues of the world where everyone plays, everyone wins and everyone gets a trophy probably have their place. But every kid deserves the chance to lose, whether that's losing the game, getting benched or cut from the team, not making All-State band, or not getting the lead in the play. It is the best way for children to learn how to take on that risk, how to thrive under that pressure, and if they do fail, how to get up and go after it again. As we become parents, little-league coaches and community members, the responsibility will fall to us to raise the next generation. If we are going to be successful, we have to continue to let them compete, to let them learn to take those risks. The responsibility falls to us to prepare them to make the jumps no human has ever made before.



SPORTS 10/4/12 7:00pm

Beazant continues recent run of dominance

Going into the fall season of women's tennis, sophomore Natalie Beazant was ranked 15th in the country for singles matches and eighth for doubles with partner junior Dominique Harmath by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. Beazant completed a great performance during the Racquet Club Collegiate Invitational in Midland, Texas, Sept. 14-16. She was the top-seeded athlete in the tournament and proved she was deserving of this ranking.  




SPORTS 10/4/12 7:00pm

Rice unable to recapture Bayou Bucket from UH

Perhaps playing the worst football team in college football is just what the Owls need after a disappointing outcome at Reliant Stadium last Saturday against the University of Houston. Despite a strong effort that showed grit toward the end, Rice failed to match the Cougars' offensive attack, letting the Bayou Bucket leave the hedges once again. 




SPORTS 9/27/12 7:00pm

Bayou Bucket up for grabs at Reliant

The Bayou Bucket, the annual contest for college football bragging rights in Houston, will be played tomorrow at Reliant Stadium. Both the University of Houston Cougars and the Owls have been struggling as of late, but their records fail to capture both teams' potential on the field. This week's matchup will provide the two teams a chance to right their respective ships. However, this game holds deeper meaning than most weeks. The Rice football team views this game as a battle for respect.


SPORTS 9/27/12 7:00pm

The Fifth Lap

During my time at Rice, our rivalry with the University of Houston has seemed, for lack of a better word, forced.