It's a dreary Saturday evening in early December. The 1-6 Rice Owls are hosting the St. Edwards Hilltoppers, a Division II college from Austin. The Hilltoppers are supposed to be a patsy, one of those obscure schools that fills out a schedule so the big school can get the easy win.
John Royal Rice basketball doesn't really have a lot to brag about
The game's a struggle for the Owls, though, as have been all of the games this season. The team's undersized, the roster's small, and the players aren't quite talented enough to play the preferred full-court fast-break offense preferred by new head coach Mike Rhoades. So he's slowed the game up a bit, with lots of passing and running a slower half court offense. The Owls get tons of great shots with open looks that players die for. It's just that they miss these shots time and time again, allowing the Hilltoppers to stay in the game.
The Owls eventually pull out the 54-49 win. Sophomore big man Andrew Drone leads the team with 14 points and nine rebounds, and the Owls, heading into the finals break, have their second win of the season. It's not pretty, but it's not about being pretty this season. The Owls will take the win, any win, this season, beauty be damned. Especially after so many of their losses this season have been close and somewhat down to the wire.