Yes, the Rice Owls Will Play Basketball This Season
But it's the perception, Braun says. The perception that Rice will never be anything more than Rice while these colleges, USC, Oregon, Villanova, will give them the exposure, the playing time, a better skill set, to get them into the NBA.
This isn't just an issue at Rice. It's just that the large number of off-season departures from Rice make it seem so much worse than what happens at other schools. But it is happening. And it's happening because players don't want to hear truths. They want to hear promises and lies.
"Somebody told me there were 400 Division One transfers this year," coaching legend Larry Brown said. "It's crazy. And you're right, a lot of kids that have told me 'no' recently, I wouldn't be surprised if they're coming back to Texas before all is said and done. I don't want to wish that on them, but they want to play right away. I can't promise anybody that they're going to play right away. I've got to go into a home next week or next year. I can't just promise them the opportunity to play."
Meanwhile, there's the issue at Rice University where the basketball lost six players this off-season -- five up-transfers and one player turning pro. The Owls will play basketball this season, and Braun gets excited when discussing his backcourt, which is still actually composed of two starters from the end of last season, Tamir Jackson and Julian DeBose. But the defections did harm the program, and Braun is making changes.
"Any time you make changes in your program, and I've made some changes, when you make changes, you want to make changes that will help your program," Braun said. "Looking forward, we just have to build on positives. We don't want to look back in any way. We have to look forward."
The present is going to be tough for Rice. There's no height, and while he believes he can get points from his team, Braun's not sure of where the rebounds will come from. His team will compete this year, he believes. Meanwhile, he's going to work on recruiting players who will value the Rice experience, who will value playing for a school such as Rice, and he's bringing in coaches who will support, guide and mentor the players.
It's going to be difficult. But has any coach at Rice ever taken a job thinking it will be easy?